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Sugihara-Vogelweid collection

Identifier: 2020-003-h-r

Scope and Contents

The Sugihara-Vogelweid collection primarily consists of Vogelweid's documents that she collected between 1980 to 2000 when she lived in Huntington Beach, California. It includes correspondence, photographs, scholarly writing, newspaper clippings, and copies of her visa. The collection also contains the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibition programs for two exhibitions Vogelwid's material was displayed in, including Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto and Flight and Rescue. The collection is arranged chronologically.


  • Majority of material found within 1990 - 2010

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Chiune Sugihara
    Chiune Sugihara was born on January 1, 1900, in Yaotsu, Japan, to Yoshimi and Yatsu Sugihara. He was the second son among five boys and one girl. His father worked for a tax administration office and would often be transferred to a different location. Sugihara attending many different schools, but remained an excellent student. He entered Waseda University in Tokyo to pursue English literature. Sugihara received a scholarship from the Japanese foreign service to study Russian in Harbin, China. After he learned Russian, he taught the language at the same school. Later, he worked for the ministry at the Japanese embassy in Harbin and soon became the office's expert in Russian affairs.

    In 1935 Sugihara went back to Tokyo and married Yukiko. Two years later, he started a new post as a first-class interpreter a the Japanese embassy in Helsinki, Finland. In 1938 a new Japanese consulate was established in Kaunas, Lithuania, and Sugihara was appointed as consul. While his official assignment was to set up a small consulate in the capital city, he was primarily responsible for monitoring the Soviet and German military movements near the border.

    In his new position, Sugihara felt that all of Europe was facing a war. He posted many reports to the Foreign Ministry and the Japanese embassy in Germany. He also became acquainted with the residents, including Jewish families, who shared with him their fears of the growing Nazi regime. On September 1, 1939, the German Army invaded Poland. Within three days, France and England declared war against Germany, and World War II began.

    Lithuania, positioned between Poland and the Soviet Union, faced an unfortunate fate. In June 1940, the Societ Union occupied Lithuania. The Jewish population of Lithuania heightened from the refugees from German-occupied Poland. In July 1940, Sugihara was surprised to see a large crowd of Polish Jewish refugees surrounding the consulate. Desperate to flee the approaching Nazis, the refugees sought if Sugihara would grant them transit visas to Japan. Although Sugihara did not have the authority to issue hundreds of visas without permission from the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, he wired his government multiple times for clearance but was denied each time.

    After discussed with his wife and children, Sugihara defied the protocol of his government and insisted on signing the visas. From July 31 to August 28, 1940, Sugihara and his wife Yukiko, sat for hours writing and signing visas. In writing a transit visa, he had to interview one person at a time, to gather their name, nationality, address, age, and country of final destination. Thousands of Polish Jewish refugees with Sugihara visas survived in safety under the benign protection of the Japanese government. As many as six thousand refugees made their way to Japan, China, and other countries in the following months.

    Later that fall, under the pressure of the Soviet Union, which had annexed Lithuania in June, Sugihara was forced to close the consulate. He was reassigned to several consulates throughout Nazi-occupied Europe. While serving in Bucharest, Romania, Nazi Germany surrendered in 1945, Sugihara and his family were detained in a Soviet Union internment camp. Upon arriving back to Japan in 1947, Sugihara was pressured to resign from the foreign ministry. Following, he worked as a translator and interpreter. In 1985 the Israeli government honored Sugihara as "Righteous Among the Nations." A year later, in 1986, he died in Kamakura, Japan, at the age of 86.

    Hanni Vogelweid
      Hanni Sondheimer Vogelweid was born in Berlin, Germany, on October 5, 1923, to Mortiz and Setty Sondheimer. The family later moved to Kaunas, Lithuania. At the start of the Second World War, the Jewish family began to look for a way out of Lithuania, as anti-semitism was rising across Eastern Europe. The family was issued a visa to Japan by Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese vice-consulate in Lithuania.

      The family received their transit visa and left Lithuania in February of 1941. They traveled to Yokohama, Japan, where they stayed for six months waiting for their paperwork for their American visas. As their transit visas expired, they were forced to leave Japan for Shanghai, which did not require permits. The Sondheimer family were now considered stateless. They rented a room in Shanghai with the money they had left and stayed until 1943. They were then forced to move into the Hongjew ghetto, for stateless refugees, where Japan forced 20,000 Jewish refugees and others during the war. As the war continued, the family need money, Hanni and her younger brother worked in a Chinese weaving factory.

      After the war, the family emigrated to the United States in 1946, after marrying Alfred Marison Gade, a First Lieutenant in the United States Army. They had one daughter, but the marriage ended soon after. She later married Lloyd Vogelweid.


0.42 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Created by Hanni Vogelweid, a Holocaust survivor, she and her family were issued a visa to Japan by Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul in Lithuania credited with saving thousands of Jewish refugees by providing transit visas. Vogelweid collected newspaper articles related to the rescuer, Sugihara. In addition, the collection contains correspondence, photographs, writings on Sugihara, programs to exhibitions and events associated with Sugihara, transportation list, and a photocopy of Vogelweid's visa issued by Sugihara.


This collection has been arranged by series.

Finding Aid for the Sugihara-Vogelweid Collection.
Tiana Taliep
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Oskar Schindler Archives Repository