Did you know that Japan saved thousands of Jews during World War II?

Jewish refugees in Kobe, Japan
(Photo: thenanfang.com)
It’s strange but true: one of the major Axis powers saved thousands of Jews despite Germany’s open disapproval. Even more surprisingly, they did so because they bought into an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
Japanese soldiers fighting against newborn Soviet Russia between 1918 and 1922 found many copies of a document titled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Protocols were a Russian anti-Semitic propaganda work describing a supposed international Jewish conspiracy to control the world. Many of the Japanese officers, who have never seen a Jewish person, took the document at face value, and their belief in it eventually spread to influential members of the Japanese government.
Front page of the 1911 edition of an anti-Semitic book that contained the Protocols
(Image: public domain)
The Protocols were intended to fan anti-Semitic hatred. What it did achieve in Japan was create the idea that if the Jews are really so rich and influential, it might be wise to get on their good side. Therefore, once European Jews started fleeing en masse from Nazi persecution, the Japanese government allowed possibly up to 20,000 of them to seek safety in Japan in the hope that the “Jewish world conspiracy” would later be grateful for the help. Many of these refugees were later settled down in Japanese-occupied Shanghai where they experienced hardship, but their fate was still far better than that of their brethren stuck in Europe.
Jewish primary school students in Japanese-occupied Shanghai
(Photo: The Times of Israel)

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A paratrooper landing at Mont Saint-Michel, France to honor paratroopers who descended on D-Day
(Photo: U.S. Army, Army Sgt. Hannah Hawkins)

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