The Mysterious Dutch Visas That Allowed Some Lithuanian Jews to Escape Hitler

April 28 2016

In 1940, Chiune Sugihara, then the Japanese consul in Kaunas, Lithuania, issued thousands of visas allowing Jews to transit through Japan to destinations elsewhere; he would eventually also grant visas to Jews without any proof of intention to proceed onward. He began by issuing visas to Lithuanian Jews who were also Dutch citizens, claiming they were en route to the Netherlands’ American colonies. Alyza Lewin explains the role her grandmother—who was born in Amsterdam but in 1940 was in Lithuania along with her mother and brother—played in this story:

In Lithuania, my grandmother sought help from the Dutch diplomats because her mother and brother were Dutch citizens and because she had been a Dutch citizen prior to marrying my [Polish] grandfather. She initially asked Jan Zwartendijk, [the Dutch consul in] Kaunas, if he could issue her a visa to the Dutch East Indies. . . . He refused. So she wrote to the Dutch ambassador in Riga, L.P.J. de Decker. He also turned down her request, . . . [but later] replied that the Dutch West Indies, including Curaçao and Suriname, were available destinations where no visa was needed. The governor of Curaçao could authorize entry to anyone arriving there.

My grandmother again wrote to de Decker asking whether he could note the Curaçao or Suriname exception in her still-valid Polish passport. She asked the envoy to omit the additional note that permission of the governor of Curaçao was required. After all, she pointed out, she really did not plan to go to Curaçao or Suriname.

. . . That is how my grandparents and my father received the very first Curaçao visa. Relying on [the Dutch envoy’s word], Sugihara agreed to give my grandparents (and my grandmother’s mother and brother, who were still Dutch citizens) transit visas through Japan on their purported trip to Curaçao.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Chiune Sugihara, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Japan, Lithuania, Netherlands, Suriname

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism