Visas for Life Timeline
Highlights and History of the Visas for Life Project and ISRAH
The Visas for Life Project was originally created to honor Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara. The Project is launched in San Francisco, California.
Street in Bern named after Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz.
Three Visas for Life exhibits honoring Chiune Sugihara are produced. Two are in English and one in Japanese.
Visas for Life sponsors a mission to Japan to honor Chiune Sugihara and his widow, Yukiko. Several Sugihara survivors give testimony in Japan to his courage. Sugihara monument is rededicated by Sugihara survivors and Deputy Japanese Prime Minister Gotoda. An exhibit honoring Sugihara is opened in his hometown of Yaotsu, Japan. The exhibit also opens in Nagoya, Tokyo, Hiroshima and numerous other cities in Japan.
Visas for Life: The Story of Sugihara exhibit and program is launched in the United States.
The Visas for Life exhibit opens up at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance. Mrs. Yukiko Sugihara and her son dedicate the exhibit and are honored in several functions. Steven Spielberg honors Sugihara at a special program in Los Angeles.
Sugihara exhibit opens at the California State Capitol, Sacramento, California.
Portugal issues commemorative postage stamp honoring Aristides de Sousa Mendes.
Carl Lutz und die Juden von Budapest, by Dr. Theo Tschuy, is published (NZZ Buchverlag, Zurich). This biography stimulates interest in Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz.
Visas for Life exhibit featuring Chiune Sugihara shown at the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle, Washington.
Aristides de Sousa Mendes presented with the Gran Cross of the Order of Christ, the highest medal awarded to civilians in Portugal.
November 30, 1995
Swiss policeman Paul Grüninger acquitted of all charges related to allowing more than 3,600 Jews to enter Switzerland illegally during World War II.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats Project premieres exhibit depicting multiple diplomats in San Francisco and at the Holocaust Museum Houston. Exhibit now depicts Sugihara, de Sousa Mendes, Zwartendijk and Raoul Wallenberg.
Visas for Life Project translates, edits and publishes Yukiko Sugihara's biography, Visas for Life.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the Spertus Museum in Chicago.
Dutch Honorary Consul Jan Zwartendijk, who was stationed in Kovno, Lithuania, awarded Righteous Among the Nations medal.
Monsignor Angelo Rotta, Papal Nuncio and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45, is honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. US Diplomat Hiram Bingham, IV, is added to the exhibit.
Book on Ambassador Per Anger, A Quiet Courage: Per Anger, Wallenberg's Co-Liberator of Hungarian Jews, by Elizabeth R. Skoglund, is published.
Raoul Wallenberg monument is dedicated in London, England.
September 28, 1997
Dr. Feng Shan Ho dies in San Francisco at the age of 96.
Visas for Life project nominates numerous diplomats for the Righteous Among the Nations program at Yad Vashem.
Visas and Virtue, a short theatrical film on Chiune Sugihara, is released and receives an Academy Award.
Alexander Kasser, Swedish Representative for the Red Cross in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45, receives the Righteous Among the Nations award. Kasser passes away shortly thereafter.
Book on Aristides de Sousa Mendes, A Good Man in Evil Times: The Story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes--The Man Who Saved the Lives of Countless Refugees in World War II, by José-Alain Fralon, is published.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate His Holiness the Dalai Lama becomes honorary board member of Visas for Life Project.
Raoul Wallenberg monument is dedicated at the United Nations building in New York City.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at Israel's Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. The Project sponsors members of the diplomats' families to Israel for the opening of the exhibit.
Israel issues a commemorative postage stamp in honor of Righteous Diplomats.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit is translated into German and opens at Berlin City Hall.
The Visas for Life Project curates a separate version of the Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit that will tour in Europe. Exhibit opens in Bern, Switzerland. In attendance is the President of Switzerland. This exhibit begins tour of cities throughout Switzerland and Europe.
Visas for Life Project curates photo exhibit on the Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz. Exhibit opens at the Swiss consulate in Los Angeles and tours throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe and Israel.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens in Budapest, Hungary, at the National Library. Attended by the President of Hungary and the diplomatic corps. Also in attendance is Swedish diplomat Ambassador Per Anger.
British diplomat who was stationed in Berlin, Frank Foley, awarded Righteous Among the Nations medal for saving Jews.
Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews, by Michael Smith, is published in England.
Visas for Life Project curates separate exhibit on the life and rescue activities of Chinese diplomat Dr. Feng Shan Ho, who rescued Jews in Vienna. Exhibit opens at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, the Chinese Cultural Centre, and other museums.
Dr. Harald Feller and Peter Zürcher, Swiss diplomats in Budapest, receive the Righteous Among the Nations award.
Aristides de Sousa Mendes is honored by the European Parliament.
Agnes Hirschi, daughter of Carl Lutz, who lives in Bern, Switzerland, becomes European Exhibit coordinator of Visas for Life.
Israeli Foreign Ministry tours the Visas for Life exhibit through its embassies and cultural ministry. Exhibit is shown throughout Europe.
Jean-Edouard Friedrich, Swiss diplomat stationed in Germany, is honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at the International Forum on the Holocaust in Stockholm, Sweden. This program is attended by 40 heads of state and the exhibit is visited by the King and Queen of Sweden.
Chaim Roet attends the exhibition and is inspired to create a committee to honor Jewish rescuers, called the Jews Rescuing Jews Committee.
The Visas for Life now tells the story of more than 50 diplomats.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Opening program is held in the hall of the General Assembly. Many of the families of the diplomats are in attendance. Polish diplomat Jan Karski and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel are the guests of honor. The Visas for Life exhibit is sponsored by and produced in cooperation with the major Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, The Jewish National Fund, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the World Jewish Congress and Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel becomes honorary board member of Visas for Life Project.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the national convention of the American Jewish Committee in Washington, D.C. Dinner attended by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the Prime Minister of Sweden and the President of Germany.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., dedicates exhibit honoring diplomats Sugihara and Zwartendijk, called Flight and Rescue. Book is later published, also entitled Flight and Rescue.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Exhibit is sponsored by the Secretary General and the Chief of Protocol, Mehmet Ülkümen, son of Turkish Consul General Selahattin Ülkümen.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the National Museum in Ljubljana, Slovenia. In attendance is the President of Slovenia.
Ambassador Per Anger becomes honorary citizen of the state of Israel.
Dr. Ho is awarded the Righteous Among the Nations award by the state of Israel.
Japanese foreign ministry dedicates memorial to Sugihara in its headquarters. Ministry formally apologizes to Mrs. Sugihara for not recognizing Sugihara’s work earlier.
Film Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness wins prestigious Independent Documentary Association award and first place in Hollywood Film Festival.
Documentary film on diplomatic rescue, Diplomats for the Damned, premieres at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Theater. Film is distributed along with student guide to schools and airs on the History Channel.
The Visas for Life Project nominates Turkish diplomats who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. They are honored with a medal of heroism by the Turkish government. Honored are Selahattin Ülkümen, Necdet Kent and Namik Kemal Yolga. All three of these heroic diplomats, in their late 80's and 90's, were able to receive these medals personally.
Visas for Life exhibit and speaker’s program participates in more than 100 programs since its inception in 1994.
Polish diplomat Jan Karski, who warned the western world of the Holocaust, passes away.
Book on Carl Lutz, Dangerous Diplomacy: The Story of Carl Lutz, Rescuer of 62,000 Hungarian Jews, by Dr. Theo Tschuy, is published. Book receives literary prize.
Swiss government issues postage stamp honoring Carl Lutz.
Book on George Mandel Mantello is published entitled, The Man Who Stopped the Trains to Auschwitz: George Mantello, El Salvador, and Switzerland’s Finest Hour. Written by David Kranzler.
Book on Spanish diplomat Don Angel Sanz-Briz, Un Español Frente al Holocausto, by Diego Carcedo, is published.
Children's book on Chiune Sugihara, A Special Fate: Chiune Sugihara: Hero of the Holocaust, written by Alison Leslie Gold, is published.
Abigail Bingham Endicott composes the song They Were True to the Voice of Love in honor of diplomatic rescuers.
Beatification of Pope John XXIII. Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was the Papal Nuncio in Turkey who saved 24,000 Jews. The Visas for Life Project supports the beatification.
Elow Kihlgren, Swedish diplomat stationed in Italy, is honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Florian Manoliu, Romanian diplomat stationed in Hungary, is honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Howard Elting, Sr., US Consul in Bern, Switzerland, who passed on the Auschwitz Report to the State Department with an endorsement of credibility, passes away.
Portuguese government obtains the old Aristides de Sousa Mendes estate in Cabanas de Viriato, begins raising money for its restoration as a tribute to his rescue work.
Portuguese President Mario Soares apologizes to the Portuguese Jewish community for the injustices of the Portuguese Inquisition in 1496. He does this in conjunction with honoring de Sousa Mendes.
Visas for Life exhibition opens in San Francisco. Ten thousand people see the exhibit in eight weeks.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate from East Timor, José Ramos Horta becomes honorary board member of Visas for Life Project. The Visas for Life Project gives Mr. Horta the One Person Can Make a Difference prize for his courageous action in bringing peace and independence to East Timor. This award is also given to Ms. Anne Treseder and Mr. John Crisostomo.
Monument for Raoul Wallenberg is dedicated in Stockholm, Sweden.
Three versions of the Visas for Life exhibit honoring Dr. Feng Shan Ho are exhibited in China. One exhibit opened in Dr. Ho's home town of Yiyang. A second exhibit opened at the original Yale-in-China campus in Yali, where Dr. Ho attended college. A large exhibit was also opened in Beijing, in cooperation with the Israeli embassy.
Visas for Life exhibit is translated into French and opens at the Memorial du Martyr Juif Inconnu at the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine in Paris, France. Exhibit opening ceremony takes place at the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) of Paris. Opening is attended by the Mayor of Paris and members of the Rothschild family.
Ambassador Per Anger, Raoul Wallenberg's colleague in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45, passes away.
Consul General Necdet Kent, Turkish Consul in Paris who saved Jews, passes away.
Visas for Life Project has documented more than 100 diplomats who rescued Jews. These diplomats represent 27 countries.
Sir Martin Gilbert's book, The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust, is published. In this study, Sir Martin tells the stories of those who risked their lives to help save Jews from deportation and death. Many stories of the courageous diplomats are told in this book. Much of the material is provided by the Visas for Life: The Righteous and Honorable Diplomats Project.
Pope John XXIII, written by Thomas Cahill, is published. References about his rescue of Eastern European Jews are presented in the book.
An old Raoul Wallenberg statue that was created after the war is restored and rededicated in Budapest.
Consul Carl Lutz becomes honorary citizen of the State of Israel.
Visas for Life exhibit is hosted by the London Jewish Community and Cultural Centre at King's College, London. In attendance is the Mayor of London and numerous Ambassadors.
August 4, 2002
Raoul Wallenberg’s 90th birthday is celebrated. Renewed interest in his story is generated.
Visas for Life exhibit shown at Boston University, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee.
Visas for Life exhibit shown at Rider College, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, New Jersey.
US Congressman Tom Lantos from California and his wife, Annette, become honorary Chairmen of the Visas for Life Project. They were rescued by Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest, Hungary, in 1944-45.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at St. Mary's College in San Antonio, Texas.
The Visas for Life exhibit adds the role of Italian diplomats who rescued Jews in Yugoslavia, Greece and Southern France. At least 17 Italian diplomats were active in the rescue of Jews in these areas. These diplomats are officially nominated by the Visas for Life Project to be honored by the State of Israel with the designation of Righteous Person.
Becsület és batorsag: Carl Lutz és a budapesti zsidok (Honour and Courage: Carl Lutz and the Budapest Jews), by Dr. Theo Tschuy, is published in Hungary.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, and then tours to Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa.
Sugihara memorial statue is dedicated in Los Angeles.
The Visas for Life Project, along with Enrico Mantello, The Wallenberg Society of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, and the Mowszowski family, sponsors commemorative medals honoring Raoul Wallenberg, Carl Lutz and Chiune Sugihara. These medals are issued by the Israeli State Coins and Medals.
Mrs. Yukiko Sugihara and her son, Chiaki, are sponsored to a special trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, organized by the Visas for Life Project. They are honored by the Governor and the State Legislature. The Hawaiian Japanese American community participates in numerous commemorative programs.
Colonel Harry Fukuhara and Major Noby Yoshimura are honored with a One Person Can Make a Difference award by Visas for Life for their role in discovering the Sugihara story. They are given a medal in a special ceremony with Mrs. Sugihara in attendance.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the Marshfield Public Library, Marshfield, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sponsored by the Milwaukee Chapter of the American Jewish Committee. The exhibit is also shown in Milwaukee.
Light One Candle: A Child’s Diary of the Holocaust exhibit (includes story of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara) opens at the YIVO institute in New York City. Exhibit runs through November 2003.
June 7, 2003
Selahattin Ülkümen, the Turkish diplomat who saved Jews on the island of Rhodes, passes away in Istanbul.
A memorial plaque honoring Jan Zwartendijk was unveiled in Kaunas, Lithuania at the site of his office.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the City Hall in Vienna, Austria. Many families of the diplomats travel to the opening of the exhibition. The exhibit is widely covered in the press.
Alison Leslie Gold publishes Fiet’s Vase and Other Stories of Survival, Europe 1939-1945. In this book, there are a number of stories of diplomatic rescue, including the stories of Dr. Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Wallenberg survivor Kate Wacz, Bernadotte survivor Gloria Lyon and Sugihara friend Solly Ganor.
Visas for Life exhibit shows in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC, sponsored by Congressman Tom Lantos and Senator Charles Schumer.
Visas for Life presents commemorative medals and books to US Secretary of State Colin Powell in a special ceremony at the State Department. Letter requesting opening of archives and cooperation of countries to determine the fate of Raoul Wallenberg.
Members of the Visas for Life families attend tribute to Holocaust survivors in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Present diplomatic commemorative medals to the Director of the museum.
Three new diplomats are discovered during the week-long festivities. They are honored in the exhibition and program. This brings the total number of diplomats being documented by the Project to 147.
Petition is written and circulated to determine the ultimate fate of Raoul Wallenberg.
Abigail Bingham Endicott composes song Tikun Olam (Heal the World) in honor of diplomatic rescuers.
December 11, 2003
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the Arts and Cultural Center sponsored by the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center in North Miami, Florida. Guests of honor were the Mayor of Hollywood, Florida, and former US Attorney General Janet Reno.
Dr. Harald Feller passes away in Bern, Switzerland.
Members of the Emergency Rescue Committee who worked with Varian Fry in Marseilles are nominated by Visas for Life for the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
Exhibit entitled Raoul Wallenberg – One Man Can Make a Difference opens in Stockholm, Sweden, at the Jewish Museum. This exhibit is produced by the Jewish Museum in Stockholm.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the International Convention Center, Binyaney Ha’ooma, Jerusalem, Israel. Visas for Life commemorative medals are presented to various dignitaries in Israel. The exhibit is sponsored by the American Jewish Committee and Julius Koppelman.
The Visas for Life Project gives the One Person Can Make a Difference award to Mr. Chaim Roet and the Jews Rescuing Jews Committee. Presentation is made at Yad Vashem. Also honored is Mr. Max Grunberg, of the Raoul Wallenberg Honorary Citizenship Committee, who has also worked for the Raoul Wallenberg cause.
The Visas for Life Project has now researched more than 200 diplomats who rescued Jews.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida.
Light One Candle: Child’s Diary of the Holocaust exhibition opens at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Center.
Visas for Life Project nominates Father Gennaro Verolino, Secretary to Angelo Rotta in Budapest, 1944-45, for the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
July 26, 2004
Visas for Life: The Righteous and Honorable Diplomats exhibition opens at the Hungarian Foreign Ministry building in Budapest. This is for a gathering of Hungarian diplomats in honor of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic rescue in Budapest. Agnes Hirschi, Visas for Life European Exhibit Coordinator, organizes this program.
Visas for Life Project has program in Washington, DC, and New York City to honor diplomats who saved Jews in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45.
Yad Vashem agrees to present Hiram Bingham IV, the US diplomat in Marseilles, and Father Gennaro Verolino, Secretary to Angelo Rotta, with letters of commendation for saving Jews during the Shoa.
The Israeli Knesset agrees to continue investigation regarding the disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg in the former Soviet Union. The Knesset also will establish an educational curriculum to honor the rescue activities of Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest.
Yad Vashem honors Hiram “Harry” Bingham IV with a letter of commendation in appreciation for “facilitating the immigration of Jewish persons from France during 1940-1941.”
Visas for Life exhibit opens in Montreal, Canada, and has a one-year tour. The exhibit also opens at the Cleveland Public Library.
Visas for Life documents 300 diplomats who helped or saved Jews.
Exhibit is opened honoring Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz in the former Glass House on Vadasz Utca.
Carl Lutz is honored in Visas for Life exhibition sponsored by the Swiss consulate in New York City.
WGBH, the Public Broadcasting System affiliate in Boston, broadcasts “Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness” on a national broadcast.
The Visas for Life Project decides to expand its program to honor heads of state and foreign ministers who were active in saving Jews during the Shoah.
Robert Kim Bingham, son of Hiram Bingham, writes and publishes book “Courageous Dissent: How Harry Bingham Defied His Government to Save Lives.”
The Visas for Life Project joins the Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO).
May 30, 2006
US Postal Service honors American diplomat Hiram “Harry” Bingham with a commemorative postage stamp as part of a “Distinguished American Diplomat” series.
June 9, 2006
The Visas for Life Project becomes a US nonprofit institution, 501(c)(3), and the project will be under the umbrella of the Institute for the Study of Rescue and Altruism in the Holocaust, a nonprofit corporation (ISRAH). ISRAH expands its mission to document state-sponsored rescue, rescue by religious institutions and rescue agencies.
As part of its mission, ISRAH will also document and honor Jews who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. ISRAH begins compiling a list of Jewish organizations and individuals.
Father Gennaro Verolino, the Vatican assistant nuncio in Budapest 1944-1945, is honored by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations.
ISRAH compiles a list of Jews who were involved in the rescue of their fellow Jews and a database of Jewish rescue organizations.
February 3, 2007
Historical seminar on Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg is conducted in Budapest sponsored by the Swedish Foreign Ministry. Raoul Wallenberg’s niece, Louise von Dardel, attends.
March 24, 2007
Dedication of Raoul Wallenberg Street in Paris, France.
Visas for Life Project prepares special exhibit on Ambassador Gilberto Bosques and the rescue of Jews in France, which premieres at the Tuvie Maizel Museum of the Holocaust in Mexico City. Vice President of Mexico attends the opening.
Ambassador Gilberto Bosques exhibit opens in the Mexican Foreign Ministry building. The Mexican Foreign Minister attends the opening, along with a number of ambassadors to Mexico.
The Light One Candle: A Child’s Diary of the Holocaust exhibit opens at the Holocaust Centre of Toronto.
January 27, 2008
Exhibit on Carl Lutz opens at the United Nations as part of the commemoration of the Holocaust.
Visa Retten Leben: Die “Gerechten Diplomaten” [Visas for Life: The Righteous and Honorable Diplomats] exhibit opens in Idar-Oberstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
March 30, 2008
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty museum. The exhibit is enhanced to include new diplomats who have been researched over the past number of years. The exhibit also has a special component honoring American diplomats and rescue agencies that saved Jews.
The Light One Candle: A Child’s Diary of the Holocaust exhibit opens at the KZ Gedenkstätte Dachau [Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Museum]. The exhibit opens at a special reunion of survivors of the Dachau concentration camp from Israel. The exhibit tours to Landsberg and the city of Munich.
December 4, 2008
Visas for Life: The Righteous and Honorable Diplomats exhibit opens at the Museo Histórico Judío y del Holocausto “Tuvie Maizel” [Tuvie Maizel Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust] in Mexico City.
Bosques exhibit opens at the Senate of Mexico, in Mexico City.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee celebrates its 100th anniversary.
July 9, 2014
Raoul Wallenberg posthumously receives the United States Congressional Gold Medal. This is the highest civilian award that Congress bestows upon an individual.
Swedish authorities declare Raoul Wallenberg officially dead.