History in the Making

Document Type



This article seeks to analyze the actions of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, a rescuer of Jews during the Holocaust, utilizing a personality model developed by social scientists Samuel and Pearl Oliner. The Oliners’s altruistic personality model centers on the idea that individuals who became rescuers have a distinct personality that responds to the complex interaction between three components: 1) the external circumstances they are confronted with; 2) internal characteristics that goad them into action; and 3) their ultimate decision to take action. Although no two‐dimensional model is ever complex enough to capture the intimate complexity of a human personality, the Oliners’s model is ideal in “fleshing out” the personality of Sugihara as very little is known of the man beyond his rescue effort; he left scant written accounts of his life.