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Sam Zell’s parents’ story

August 17, 2017

My interests are varied, but sometimes my focus is too narrow. It happened with this book and I was embarrassed about it. Here is what happened.

When I told Rick I finished Sam Zell’s book he asked me if I ever heard of Sugihara and I did not know what he meant. I had to reread the first chapter to engrave the name in my mind and to fully appreciate who Sugihara was and the great thing he did.

Zell’s parents escaped from Poland at the onset of the Nazi invasion and went on a circuitous route until they arrived in the United States. In order to get here they needed to get out of Europe. They were able to get to Vilnius, Lithuania and were then able to get forged entrance visas for Curacao but had to travel through Russia and Japan, a journey of 8,000 miles. To do this they needed a travel visa for Japan.

A Jewish refugee delegation went to the Vilnius Japanese vice consul, Chiune Sugihara, for those visas. Sugihara’s instructions when he wired Tokyo was to deny permission. Risking his career and causing danger to his family he took it upon himself to issue enough visas so that 6,000 Jews were saved. This wasn’t widely known after the war, but in 1985 Sugihara received official recognition in Israel as a Righteous Gentile by the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority. Sugihara’s courageous actions became his legacy – he made a difference!

Sam was born four months after his parents arrived in the United States. Zell’s parent’s story leaving Europe and the certainty of being murdered there and coming to America with very little and not able to speak the language and then forging a successful life is remarkable. That experience has been replicated many times over, though not as much as it could have because of America’s restrictive immigration policies during the period of the Nazi murders of European Jews. To learn a little about one family’s situation, read the first chapter of this book.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 6hawthorne permalink
    August 17, 2017 7:29 am

    Hi Ed good story Bob Nagler

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