Skip to main content

tv   Escaping the Holocaust  CSPAN  July 11, 2021 9:16pm-10:01pm EDT

9:16 pm
conspiracism. so have a good weekend. i will see you then. follow american history tv on twitter facebook and youtube for schedule updates to learn about what happened this day in history watch videos and learn more about the people and events that have shaped the american story find us at c-span history. watch book tv now on sundays on c-span 2 or find it online anytime at its television for sirius readers. next on c-span's american history tv here a personal remembrance about escaping the holocaust then civil rights attorney. fred gray will discuss his work with rosa parks martin luther king jr. and others in the civil rights movement. find more information on your
9:17 pm
program guide or at cspan good morning, and thank you for joining us for another episode in the museum's facebook live series. i'm your host historian, edna friedberg. during each program. we explore an aspect of holocaust history and its relevance to our world today. this month as we commemorate asian american and pacific islander heritage month we do so at a time while witnessing a disturbing rise in hate speech and violence against asian americans individuals and communities. during our period of history, although japan was nazi germany's ally in world war ii today. we will highlight a japanese diplomat who defied that alliance to help european jews during the holocaust. we will also recognize the sacrifice made by many japanese americans who despite being vilified in the us joined the american military and helped to free jews from nazi persecution.
9:18 pm
i am honored to be joined by leo malamud who survived the holocaust because of the actions of japanese diplomat chuune sugihara. leo is chairman emeritus of the cme group and the founder of financial futures also the initiator of globex and he recently published a book of memoirs called man of the futures in which she has several chapters devoted to the heroism and gratitude. he feels to sugihara. good morning, leo. good morning. am so glad to see you in chicago. i'm delighted to participate in this very important program. in developing today's show. we were also fortunate to meet sugihara's youngest son nobuki and we look forward to sharing with you some of his reflections about his father's motivations and the impact of his actions during the war. during today's show. please send your questions for leo by posting them in the comments section and we'll get to as many of them live during
9:19 pm
the course of the program as we are able. so leo, let's begin at the beginning when you were just a young boy living in poland in the 1930s and we have this adorable picture of you. i love those cheeks. tell us where were you born when and what was life like for you and your parents. well, i was born in the olive poland bialistic was the second largest city in poland and had a very large population of jews over a hundred thousand life was very normal outside of the fact there were occasional programs that happened throughout poland, but there was stuck survived my parents were both yiddish school teachers and my father was a mathematician besides. he was also a civic leader in the aristotle and the only jew i think there was elected to the city council.
9:20 pm
that's very important because it served to give him a chance to escape and escape with his wife and me and my mother and child so to speak here we are this is life normal in poland. yellow stock is a big city and winters were harsh in poland. and that's me all bundled up and with my parents as normal as can be. that's a very nice picture of my kindergarten class. you can see how all the kids were very normal kids as in any big city or small city and all of us gathered for the picture. now, how was that life shattered? how did it change after germany invaded poland in september 1939 starting world war ii. it was an extreme.
9:21 pm
radical change of course the the essence was that my father being on the city council was called in by the mayor of ballistock and they gathered in the senate in the great synagogue of bialistic because the city hall had been bombed out. and at that time the mayor said to the council members that it is likely that they would all be hostages because they are prominent in the city and that he advised them that they had to leave or should leave and he had rented a truck to take them not with their families they couldn't from they couldn't do that, but they could do the 20 or so council members and give
9:22 pm
them safety for for a while and nobody knew where they were going and that was of course on purpose so that we could not divulge it because we didn't know. but it was a harrowing experience my mother woke me in the middle of the night and took me to say goodbye to my father during it a night when bob's were falling and flashes of light and a constant sound of a machine gun and we ran through the darkness to an empty lot where everyone had gathered with their family to say. goodbye and the lowly truck sitting there. i i close my eyes and i remember that entire scene it was harrowing but it began the escape from my father which of course saved me my mother eventually and i want to take a
9:23 pm
moment to greet and welcome our international viewers. thank you for joining us from around the world in nicaragua in brazil in the city of cologne and germany and to viewers watching from the agalonian university in the polish city of krakov. we're very happy to have you here. now leo i know from speaking with you previously that your father escaped to the city of vilnius or vilna and lithuania and you and your mother soon followed him the three of you were among an estimated 15,000 polish jews who found safe haven there, but it was not long lived after eight months in lithuania soviet forces invaded and we are seeing a photograph of those troops coming into town. how did this affect your father a particularly in relation to his outspoken political views? well, my father who was a brilliant man was a very strong member of the boom organization
9:24 pm
who were are jewish socialists very much anti-communist very much anti-stolic and therefore he was on a list for arrest or could have been on a list. anyway, he wasn't ever sure of the nk. which is the precursor to the kgb and so once the the russians came back into capture bialistoc, he did not return from vilma for the reason that i just indicated. he was not he was not happy with the russians and he called my mother and on a telephone that our neighbor had we didn't have a telephone and told her to grab me and of some stuff and take the last train out of biala stock before the borders closed.
9:25 pm
she did that and we said our goodbyes. we didn't know whether that would be for a week to weeks or whatever. it turned out to be forever. but we didn't know that at the time and my mother and i spent a very difficult train ride from balestock to vilna. and it would stop off and and everybody would run out to fear of bombings and then there would be a whistle that would blow and we would all come back on the train. anyway, we made it and we then lived under lithuanian rule for a bit until the the non-aggression treaty between hitler and stalin was broken. and at that point, um, poland was divided partly to the nazis and partly to the russians and
9:26 pm
they and the process russian over to lithuania. and so we found ourselves in russian rule, which again was not good for my father. he used to leave and and often hid in the forests on nearby and would visit us from time to time, but it was a very difficult life i of course was in school because that's what's cool teachers through they put their children immediately in school. my parents were very much concerned that my education was lacking. obviously i couldn't go to class so they did enroll me and i was beginning to learn the way in at first and then when the russians came in that change direction, so i started to learn russian, although i knew some of because i knew polish very well. and that lasted for almost the full year with a very difficult
9:27 pm
time for both my parents and myself. going to take a moment to welcome our viewers who are watching from across the us good morning to you from chicago. leo's, hometown, santa fe, new mexico, lexington, north carolina, phoenix, arizona, and also happy to see our friends from the georgia commission on the holocaust. good morning to all of you. now leo, when did your father encounter japanese diplomat shiwanesugihara? well, you must remember that my father never wanted to get back on to be allah stuck anyway, because he he held the communists and such a horrible stand so that the idea of leaving the russian rule of vilma was proud was one of the main forces for him. and of course.
9:28 pm
everyone understood that the nazis were only months away from perhaps capturing the other stuff and a rumor had it that the japanese council general of in lithuanian. kovno, which was then the capital of lithuania would possibly give transit visa to the jews that wanted to leave russian rule and the fear of nazi occupation. and so he as long along with thousands of others that were in vilna their escape route now mind you these are the very few that managed to get out of the horror. that was to follow in the holocaust. and it was a sugihara's bravery as a diplomat. to deny the orders of his government because they didn't
9:29 pm
want him to issue these transit visa if everybody anyone understands what a transit visa is, they've probably seen the movie cast of one kind of they haven't heard you to see it because no understand the transit reason is the only hope you have of escaping from where you are and certain death. they probably anyway and soo yehara the japanese council general. gave out over 2,000 visas and those two thousand actually represented a lot more because the visa represented the family to go to speak. so i and my mother and father had one visa and we ended up getting out but much harder and more difficult was the fact that you needed permission from the
9:30 pm
russian foreign office to leave and when you apply for permission to leave russia at the time, it was considered dangerous because then you were saying that you didn't want to stay in the paradise that russia represented. so it was dangerous for us to apply but faith would have it we did receive permission to leave. and eventually took a train, um to moscow and from moscow the very famous siberian express. of vladivostok, which was the port on the eastern shore far eastern russian port and that that train ride it through siberia is one. i'll never never forget because it was like over two weeks. video, i'm going to interrupt you for a moment because some viewers may be surprised to know that a representative of japan
9:31 pm
nation. that was allied with nazi germany at the time that he would be willing to help people who were being targeted by an ally of his government. we had an opportunity to speak with qune. sugihara's youngest son noobuki. let's hear him explain in his own words. why his father acted to help so many thousands of people while others by and did nothing. all the consulates work closed in the end of july. he had to be but he sees many refugees coming one after the other. so he extended his stay for another month. he got commission from lithuanian. government, actually it's so weird authority. and he didn't expect. 500 to 1,000 or more he started issuing. it's not one visa or 1000 visas
9:32 pm
for him. just to save one night. is equal to 1000 lives? so he never imagined. he was doing any heroic. action and we have an audience comment a woman named pamela writes to say my dad and uncle also received visas from sugihara and traveled the same route to freedom and safety and in fact of over 2700 polish jews were admitted to japan between july 1940 and june 1941. thanks to the actions of sugihara leo after this journey on the trans-siberian train and a difficult three days on the sea of japan. could you please describe your arrival to japan to us in the port of suruga? well, yeah compared the horror of going through siberian winter for over two weeks and ending up
9:33 pm
on a little little boat and being embarked in sarooga, which was an unbelievable experience because the people the people welcomed us and were extremely friendly offering flowers and fruit and my mother's whispered to me that it was the first time in the last two years that she could breathe freely and let's go my hand which he claims she held on to for two years. so it was a moment that of course you never forget and you don't forget the the friendship that in fact the people evidence that the japanese people evidence to all of us who were desperate. and know that we were escaping from the horrors that was going on in europe.
9:34 pm
it's it's something that you never never forget and the heroism of sugihara to define his government's orders and issue visas a z as he his his son a brother of the that you just saw his name was hiroki. i met the brother many years later in tokyo, and he told me many stories about his father and he had devoted his life to the memory of sugihara his father and i joined that effort and promised him that i would do everything. i could the memorialize the memory of this great hero. leo you ended up in the japanese city of kobe, correct yes, we ended up in kobe because it was the cheapest place to live. and of course we didn't have any money if it wasn't for the joint
9:35 pm
effort of the committee to give us and help us it would have been impossible that that which you're viewing is a crayon box because my parents again made me enter school because we didn't know how long we would be there and they gave up this this crayon boxes the only evidence. i have a going to the japanese school, which i did of course. i forgot the language since and it was a really different experience than the one in russia because we were of at least free for the moment and and not endanger of death and whatever can happen in the to the jews in europe and we are very grateful to you at the museum leo for donating your wooden crayon boxed us. we feel very honored to be the safe keepers of that artifact and what it represents also the
9:36 pm
organization that you mentioned that provided financial support to your family. the joint is the nickname for the american jewish joint distribution committee an organization that still exists today a jewish charitable nonprofit now, although we don't have images of you and your parents in japan at the time. we do have some photographs of some of the other jewish refugees who are able to survive. thanks to the transit visas issued by sugihara including these photos. from kobe gathering for a meal and also many hundreds of refugee yeshiva students students at higher learning institutions of jewish study. now we mentioned transit visas. they mean in transit. you're supposed to be passing through and console sugihara issued these they were supposed to be for a 10-day stay in japan, but people were found themselves there for a very long period of time sometimes months or longer.
9:37 pm
how long were you and your parents in japan? and where did you go next? well, we were there for over four months and of course my parents applied to many countries everybody wanted to go to the us as the first choice of course, but they applied everywhere you could because you would you knew you would have to leave a japan and so they applied and many ended up in australia or in canada, but the bulk of them and ended up in sharing hi and had to live through the war that was coming in a very difficult period of for them there very to are just a couple of hundred got permission to come into united states again. we were on that list. and the reason for that is that the afl's the american labor
9:38 pm
unions all gave a list of endangered people to the state department in the us and those that list contained a hundred names of of people that were in their labor movement such as was my father as a bundis and so our name was on that list. and it's because of that that the state department advised the ambassador in japan in tokyo to give us passage and let us leave and go to the united states and enormously lucky event. and again, my father was just unbelievably brilliant in getting us to safety as he did. so once again good fortune found you and your parents. i also give want to give a special greeting to our mutual friend dan bromberg watching in
9:39 pm
washington dc whose father abe and grandparents also bundes. also jewish socialists were some of your travel companions. we have a question coming in from the audience leo a woman named. carrie asks, did your mom tell you what was going on in the world in the severity of the situation. did you have any awareness of wider events or what you'd escaped? well, we did and and of course they understood but nobody really understood the holocaust except those people that were unfortunate enough to be trapped. um you you couldn't imagine that that same society would. go about actually killing an entire nation like the jews represented. it's not something that's easily understood. so my parents. of course knew the horror, but we could never understand the fullness of that atrocity. and as far as my parents, my
9:40 pm
family is concerned when the germans return to pialisstok. um, they took 2,000 of of jews from our neighborhood. and under gunpoint put them into the great big synagogue in dallas talk. they locked the doors and windows. hose down the walls with gasoline and said the entire building on fire. yeah, that that was what it looked like before it was ruined today. there's just some iron. from the dome left, but 2,000 jews burned to death including my entire family when the when the nazis returned to be allison. horrific crime and that included both of your grandmothers right
9:41 pm
aunt's cousins everybody that we had in viala stuck which of course was. the predominant family perished that thing. to give people a sense of proportion and just how lucky you were to encounter sugihara. we mentioned over 2700 polish jews who found safe haven in japan there were close to three million jews living in poland at the outbreak of the war and of the jews who landed in japan only 532 of them were able to sail to the us. i understand that rafael lempkin the man who coined the term genocide in championed its adoption as a case of international law was on the ship with you and your parents right? it's my parents met him. of course. i was a child. i was eight years old and didn't get to know rafael limpkin, but he was a great man and he knew my parents because we were on the ship for over 10 days. he and morrow that took us from
9:42 pm
japan to seattle, washington. he lincoln became a lawyer for the united nations. he was a lawyer in europe, too. and he coined the phrase genocide to describe what went happened to the jews in europe. and that word of course is in the lexicon of the world today, but it was lumpkin that put that together and he was on the amara with us. and we actually did a program about lemk in just a few weeks ago. we will post a link to that in the comments. now leo soon after you and your parents arrive to america several months later on december 7th, 1941. the japanese attacked the us naval base in pearl harbor hawaii setting off war in the pacific. you were still a young boy. what awareness did you have of the impact on japanese americans at that time? and how did you square that with your direct experience having just been in japan?
9:43 pm
it was very difficult to understand. of course now. i was nine years old and you know, i knew quite a bit having experienced what i did, but i couldn't understand how the people who seemed so civil and friendly to us could then attack the united states? i i realized there was a big difference between population and the government and seemingly and i never understood that of course, i grew up as a american patriot. help our kids and did but it was a difficult to understand why the japanese did this and why our government did what it did when it turned them, but you know life is full of mysteries and that was one of them one of the ones that i encountered. and when you mention when they in turn them, you're referring to an executive order that
9:44 pm
president franklin roosevelt signed in 1942 that led to the forcible relocation. not only of japanese immigrants to the us but also of american citizens of japanese descent about 120,000 people were forced from their homes into these so-called relocation centers many were made to sell their businesses their homes and they were vilified and treated as enemy aliens. though if their country was turning against them still more than 33,000 japanese-americans served in the military during world war ii and i'd like to remind our viewers that the american army was segregated at the time. so both african-american soldiers and japanese american soldiers like the ones we are seeing here served in segregated units the photo we just saw was of the 442nd regimental combat team in france in 1944, and we have a audience comment of your name vicki notes the motto of
9:45 pm
the 442nd was go for broke. they had a lot to prove. among these soldiers was a young man named clarence matsumura. clarence was born in wyoming and we see a photo of him here to japanese immigrant parents. his family had been forced into a relocation camp at heart mountain in wyoming and he was among the members of the 552nd field artillery battalion, which was a segregated unit made up of second generation japanese-americans first and second generation known as nisei it became one of the most decorated units in american history. why am i telling you this? well, the two stories actually intersect in may 1945 clarence's unit was in germany part of liberating forces when they came across people who were lying along the roadside prisoners who had collapsed after a so-called death march from a camp. as he later recalled as clarence
9:46 pm
recalled these people looked like skin and bones many of them were unconscious. among those who clarence encountered was a teenager named sally ganoor. we have a photo here of sally from after the war. like leo sally's family was lucky to get transit visas to japan from shiawane sugihara, but unfortunately, their lithuanian passports were deemed invalid the soviets would not permit them to leave. so although they had the chance of this life-saving document instead. they were imprisoned for a long period of time in the covno ghetto in lithuania under horrible conditions as you can see here in this photo there were mass shootings. there was starvation there was disease sally was deported first to the stuttoff concentration camp and later to the dachau concentration camp. and on that day in my may 1945 sally was stunned to see asian looking men in american uniforms. he later recalled thinking they
9:47 pm
looked like sugihara and his family. and we know that many years later decades later clarence and solly were reunited here at a gathering that commemorated the liberation of dachau. so again, two young men whose paths whose trajectories were changed because of who they were not what they did or believe but because of racism racist ideologies and they found each other that way helene is asking. um, do you have any thoughts on that leo and actions that you have taken to ensure that sugihara's bravery and compassion has been recognized it did take a long time actually and you know war the war was one
9:48 pm
reason but years later i met hiroki one the oldest of the sons that were in the embassy at the time. i hadn't met him in in covina, but i met him in tokyo and we became very close friends and he told me many things about the bravery of his father and how difficult it was the people to understand that that his father was quite the hero he was and we both took the oath kiroki had devoted his life to the memorialize. his father's deed as did. i help him and that actually my office in chicago became a mecca out for any of this to be hara family members and as well as officials from tokyo japan today is our strongest alliance in the in the far east and we get many
9:49 pm
many visitors from japan and i i did my part as i promise to rocky he's passed on but i promised him to devote myself to the memory of that and of course i did and and continue to do but it was the oddly shem in 19, i think in 1986 that that labeled so you are as act as one of the righteous of the world and doing that of course sugihara became very very famous for his great deed of humanity as did the united states holocaust museum memorialize him as well. so that the work of many of us resulted in the world understanding what that great deed was he's kind of known as
9:50 pm
the japanese schindler because of what schindler's action was in saving jews. i think sugihara saved money more than than schindler did. i think also another part agree with everything. you said another part has to do with the actual arc of sugihara's own life. he was initially transferred to other japanese consulates and other cities in europe. he also did not provide would not reveal the list of the people to whom he had issued visas until february of 1941, i believe so that their identities kind of couldn't be traced after the war he and his family were actually put in a soviet internment camp for 18 months and in fact, he did not realize that anyone had survived with the help of his transit visas until the late 1960s. so the story was not necessarily even completely clear to sugihara in the immediate aftermath of the war.
9:51 pm
we have another question jack from a woman named debbie who is saying that since japan was a nazi german ally. what did they think of a japanese diplomat helping jews and debbie. he actually was given instruction not to issue these transit visas, but did so anyway because of his conscience leo. could you also talk a little bit about the the more recent japanese governments and you're involvement with them and their recognition of sukihara posthumously. yes, of course in time. everyone recognized the heroism of gionis sugihara and i took it upon myself to do as i said, whatever i could and so did many other of the survivors. i wasn't alone in that effort. this is a picture of amazon the prime minister of japan's.
9:52 pm
middle there. i'm standing next to him and on my left is marcia bernstein. she also survived through a sugihara transit visa. so the prime minister came to pay respect at the holocaust museum and lighted candle in memory of sugihara the name of sugeara eventually in japan was understood by everybody to have been an extraordinary hero who defined government orders because his view of humanity was such that it was happening in europe and the danger that we all had was wrong in wrong is too mild is two mild a word and he took it upon himself to do what he thought was right in saving these people this and
9:53 pm
they're so people from certain death because once the nazi's captured vilna and covenant the jews there were annihilated almost in its entirety. and of course we can never know with any precision exactly. how many lives have been made possible because of the bravery because of the actions of sugihara because it not only is the people who were the direct beneficiaries but all of their descendants leo you yourself have been very fortunate to have three children five grandchildren and multiply that by thousands and thousands of people and their families. we would like to give a special special greeting to nobuki sugihara and his family who are actually watching today. she wouldn't as youngest son. we are so grateful to you and also to your father, of course in sharing his father's story over the years. no bookie has met hundreds of
9:54 pm
holocaust survivors and their descendants who are alive only thanks to the deeds of his father. let's hear him describe the impact that meeting these survivors and these descendants has had on him. time and survivors so many sur vivors and they say that they have family in australian south africa in israel, so i could imagine how many thousand. many more but each person i see. i feel so happy that this life. must say his life. how life will save. incredible and it is absolutely incredible. we have many many audience comments and we will share some of these with you later leo and also no bookie from people noting that either sugihara visas saved family members directly or just thanking him for his bravery a viewer named
9:55 pm
steven writes. i have heard the sugihara story before but it is wonderful to hear it firsthand from leo and i agree. we are very very lucky. leo in closing i want to ask you a question really about today and how this story affects us today because we are witnessing rising discrimination violence again vilification against asian americans here in the us just earlier this week. i was in new york city. i was in chinatown and i was disturbed to see that there were civilian groups patrolling to protect against racist attacks. it made me really sad that that was necessary in your view from your vantage point. what lessons can we apply from this history? and how can it help us to prevent that attitude from continuing to escalate? well it i guess is difficult to erase. racism mannered continues to be evidence throughout the world, but the one thing that sugihara
9:56 pm
taught the world is one man can make a difference. so each of us, each of us can make that difference like he did or in similar fashion or in any way to stand up against racism and bigotry and try to erase it and stamp it up wherever it occurs. it's very serious and difficult for the people that suffer this racism like in the case of the asians in certain ways in the case of jews with anti-semitism still prevalent throughout the world. these are the kind of things that sugihara stands out above everybody in showing how one individual can stand up to racism and do something about it in his case. he saved thousands and today hundreds of thousands of lives as a result of standing up every
9:57 pm
person in the world can do something about it. then he showed us how he's a great humanitarian. well, thank you so much leo for joining us today. not only to share your story of survival but to share and i hope to make contagious your commitment to preserving and shining a light on this legacy. it really means a lot. thank you. thank you. there is a well-known saying from the talmud that whoever saves a single life is considered to have saved an entire world. she won a sugihara offered life-saving escape to innocent civilians who are targeted for destruction. is ingenuity his compassion live on in the many thousands of descendants who had never have been born. if not for his heroism and we honored to play tribute to him today. resistance comes in many forms in the case of sugihara a simple piece of paper meant the difference between life and death today. we also learned about and honored a group of
9:58 pm
japanese-americans who refused to allow racist discrimination to define them. as president harry s truman later described these soldiers they fought not only the enemy but they fought prejudice and they won. may we all be inspired to fight and stand up to hate whenever we see it. we thank you for joining us for today's program. is c-span's online store. there's a collection of c-span products browse to see what's new your purchase will support our nonprofit operations and you still have time to order the congressional directory with contact information for members of congress and the biden administration go to the secret service was founded in the aftermath of the assassination of abraham lincoln, but it wasn't until the death of john f kennedy at the presidential protection service began to get closer attention
9:59 pm
from the american people carolynek began reporting on the secret service for the washington post in 2012 in the prologue of her new book zero fail. she writes that she started her coverage on hooker gate the scandal in which agents brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms while making arrangements for president obama to visit cartagena colombia. we talked with missile an egg about her in-depth look in her new book subtitled the rise and fall of the secret service carol lenig on this episode of book notes plus listen at slash podcast or wherever you get your podcast. weekends on c-span 2 are an intellectual feast every saturday you'll find events and people that explore our nation's past on american history tv on sundays book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. it's television for serious
10:00 pm
readers learn discover explore on c-span 2. we want to make sure that you help us along keeping us busy with questions and thoughts. we will be using the youtube chat. put your hometown and city, state so i can give you a shout out later on in the program. and now, i am del


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on