Saturday, May 28, 2016

Kaunas 1935 - Hotel Metropolis

Berlin - Zentralflughafen / Central Airport transit postmark

Kaunas - Gelež. Stotis / Kaunas Railway Station 1935

This is an airmail cover of the Hotel Metropolis sent in 1935 from Kaunas to London. This Hotel Metropolis was the most prestigious hotel in Lithuania during the interwar period, where most of the important guests stayed. It has been nationalized in 1922, served many celebrities and state guests from Marc Chagall to Chiune Sugihara. The hotel is still operating today (but not "prestigious" as it used to be back then, at least when I've stayed there myself in 2005) at the exact same building which you can see on the cover hotel logo illustration.
Interestingly, the cover is addressed to a ship captain but sent to the office that owns the ship rather than the ship itself. The was no direct flight from Kaunas to London at that time I guess, so you see a transit postmark of Berlin Zentralflughafen / Central airport on the back of the cover.
The Japanese consul Chiune Sugihara / 杉原千畝 famous for issuing life saving visas to the Jewish people during WWII, spent his final days in Lithuania here. He stayed at Hotel Metropolis after the Japanese consulate was forcibly closed down by the occupying Soviet authority, continued issuing visas in the hotel room. Many witnesses stated that he even wrote visas at the Kaunas railway station platform when he was leaving Lithuania (and coincidentally, the postmark of this cover is Kaunas railway station!). Today you can see 2 commemorative plates to honor this event, one at Kaunas railway station and the other one at Hotel Metropolis.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I'm sorry Sitti, I had to delete your comment, I don't really want totally irrelevant commercial link on my blog. Please understand.

    >Sitti AlwaliyahMay 28, 2016 at 10:00 AM
    >Hajime Maste, Watashi siti desu
    Yoroshiku onegai simasta

  3. Hello,

    I read a book about Chiune Sugihara which was written by his wife Yukiko Sugihara, titled ’Visas for 6,000 lives'(六千人の命のビザ: Rokusen nin no Inochi no Visa).

    I knew that Japanese Vice-consul Chiune Sugihara, issuing transit visas for 6,000 trapped Jews until his departure on 09/01/1940

    He had been issuing visas for Jews at the beginning of August( not before 08/03/1940), but he was ordered by the Soviet authority to leave Lithuania immediately.

    Despite of the Soviet authority's order, he was exhausted, so he had stayed "Hotel Metropolis" from August 28th or 29th to September 1st, 1940.

    Many Jews came to the "Hotel Metropolis", asking him for life saving Japanese transit visas.

    Mr. Sugihara continued writing the visas for them with his hand.

    Finally, he departed Kaunas train station on September 1st, 1940, for Berlin, Germany.

    I visited Kaunas summer of 1997, but that time, I had never thought the "Hotel Metropolis" was existing.

    What surprised me is that this great historical hotel is still operating business.

    I'm so happy.

    Someday, I would like to visit "Hotel Metropolis"(now located on S. Daukanto gatve 21) in Kaunas to feel Mr. Sugihara's mind.

    Anyway, thank you for your information about "Hotel Metropolis"

    By the way, when you have a chance to visit Kaunas, please stop at the former Japanese Consulate "Sugihara House" (Sugiharos Namai: Vaizganto gatve 30, Kaunas) which is a Chiune Sugihara's memorial museum now.

    1. Hello, thank you for stopping by and leave a comment!
      I actually visited the former consulate several times when I was living in Kaunas. It's very nice that they've preserved it.
      I have read many references stating that Hotel Metropolis in Kaunas had a cafe on the ground floor (probably what is now the pizza place) which was an important source of information at that time especially during Sugihara's time. The hotel was equipped with several phone booth for international calls which was a very limited thing back then. Some source even says there was a post office inside but I'm not sure about it since these sources are not written by specialists in the philatelic field. It is possible that the hotel had a counter selling postage stamps and dropped mails at the office for anyone who left it at that counter or, maybe a postal agent of some kind but it needs to be confirmed.