2020 is the Year of Chiune Sugihara, who saved ~6000 Jewish people
Lithuania declared 2020 to be the year dedicated to this man, the only Japanese citizen to be named to the Righteous Among Nations.
In 1939, Sugihara became a vice-consul of the Japanese Consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania. While there, he helped the Polish underground obtain visas. But shortly before the Japanese consulate was to leave after the Soviet Union occupied Lithuanian in 1940, he met with a delegation of Jewish refugees, asking for his help. Many Jewish refugees had fled eastward, and were now caught between the Nazis and the Soviet Union. ". . . many Jewish refugees from Poland (Polish Jews) as well as Lithuanian Jews tried to acquire exit visas. Without the visas, it was dangerous to travel, yet it was impossible to find countries willing to issue them. Hundreds of refugees came to the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, trying to get a visa to Japan. At the time, on the brink of the war, Lithuanian Jews made up one third of Lithuania's urban population and half of the residents of every town as well.
. . . At the time, the Japanese government required that visas be issued only to those who had gone through appropriate immigration procedures and had enough funds. Most of the refugees did not fulfill these criteria. Sugihara dutifully contacted the Japanese Foreign Ministry three times for instructions. Each time, the Ministry responded that anybody granted a visa should have a visa to a third destination to exit Japan, with no exceptions.
"From 18 July to 28 August 1940, aware that applicants were in danger if they stayed behind, Sugihara decided to ignore his orders and issued ten-day visas to Jews for transit through Japan. Given his inferior post and the culture of the Japanese Foreign Service bureaucracy, this was an unusual act of disobedience. He spoke to Soviet officials who agreed to let the Jews travel through the country via the Trans-Siberian Railway at five times the standard ticket price.
"Sugihara continued to hand-write visas, reportedly spending 18 to 20 hours a day on them, producing a normal month's worth of visas each day, until 4 September, when he had to leave his post before the consulate was closed. By that time he had granted thousands of visas to Jews, many of whom were heads of households and thus permitted to take their families with them. According to witnesses, he was still writing visas while in transit from his hotel and after boarding the train at the Kaunas Railway Station, throwing visas into the crowd of desperate refugees out of the train's window even as the train pulled out.
"In final desperation, blank sheets of paper with only the consulate seal and his signature (that could be later written over into a visa) were hurriedly prepared and flung out from the train. As he prepared to depart, he said, 'Please forgive me. I cannot write anymore. I wish you the best.' "
"When Nazi Germany invaded Lithuania . . . the small window of escape was slammed shut. The killing of the Jews began immediately after occupation, and the majority of the Jews in the occupied territories were murdered." (Yad Vashem)
Sugihara and his family would later be sent to a Soviet prison camp for ~3 years; once freed, he returned to Japan where he was essentially fired from the diplomatic corps for "the incident in Lithuania", where he had been warned: "While all this was going on, Sugihara was receiving dispatches from Tokyo warning him against issuing visas without due process. . . . from then on [after his dismissal] he made a living doing odd jobs."(source: Yad Vashem)
The exact figures of how many lives were saved with the "Sugihara visa" are unknown, since visa holders also could take their families. It's estimated as high as 10,000 people had visas but were unable to leave in time; the current accepted figure for the lives he saved is ~6,000.
One person's actions really can make a difference.