About the museum

The Sugihara House Museum is located in the former Japanese Consulate building in Kaunas, Vaižganto str. 30. The museum presents the following exhibitions:

Visas for Life

An exhibition dedicated to the personalities of Chiune Sugihara and Jan Zwartendijk. Unique to the exhibition is the recreation of Sugihara's office where he issued Japanese transit visas in the summer of 1940.

Zwartendijk, who provided refugees with visas for their final destination, is also given attention by creating a replica of his office in Kaunas. The personal belongings of Zwartendijk, Honorary Consul of the Netherlands in Lithuania, are the highlight of this exhibition.

Visitors can experience the working atmosphere of the consuls in Kaunas, as well as the personal stories of the rescued people. The story tells how Polish Jewish refugees from Lithuania reached and settled in Japan. What obstacles they might have encountered on the way, who helped them besides the Kaunas-based C. Sugihara and J. Zwartendijk.

Casablanca of the North

Casablanca of the North: Kaunas 1939 - 1940 takes visitors to Kaunas, the temporary capital of the time, and the diplomatic life that was brewing there. This metaphorical title of the exhibition is inspired by the content of the top 10 film of all time, Casablanca, which depicts the situation of Jewish refugees in Casablanca in 1941 and their efforts to reach Lisbon, the symbol of the free world.

Few people know that Kaunas became the symbol of the free world in the summer of 1940. The paradox is that in the summer of 1940, Kaunas and Lithuania survived the brutal Soviet occupation, but until the last gasp of freedom, the Lithuanian state and its diplomats abroad tried to help Jewish refugees seeking to escape Soviet persecution and repression.

The exhibition reveals the everyday life of World War II refugees in Lithuania, the efforts of the Lithuanian state to help war refugees, Lithuania's territorial losses due to Nazi occupation plans, and the treacherous recovery of the historic capital Vilnius from Soviet hands. It answers the question why C. Sugihara and J. Zwartendijk life visas were not used by Lithuanian citizens.

Crystal of Kindness

In the center of the exposition is a postcard of 19 March 1941, addressed to Vytautas Žakavičius, one of the Lithuanian Righteous Among the Nations, who, together with his fellow prisoners Bronius Jocevičius, Jonas Petrauskas, and Pranas Simokaitis, was shot in July 1944 for hiding the Jews in Kaunas Fort IX, along with the Jews they had saved, while Jonas Janulaitis, a member of the same group, managed to escape from death.

The exhibition also presents more tragic fates of the Jewish rescuers in Nazi-occupied Lithuania - the rescuers themselves were executed for showing humanity and sheltering Jews who sought refuge.

A postcard sent to V. Žakavičius from Japan testifies that those who received Sugihara's visas reached Japan. However, when the Soviet occupation of Lithuania was replaced by the Nazi occupation, not only were the majority of Lithuanian Jews exterminated, but also some of the Jewish rescuers.