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Sousa Mendes

Aristides de Sousa Mendes was a Portuguese diplomat stationed in France during World War II. He ignored and defied the orders of his own government for the safety of war refugees fleeing from invading German military forces. Between June 16 and June 23, 1940, he frantically issued Portuguese visas to over 30,000 refugees, 12,000 of whom were Jews. His amazing story has until recently been forgotten in both Portugal and around the world.

Guardian Piece on Sousa Mendes

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Today my piece on visiting the Casa do Passal and the Legacy of Sousa Aristides de Sousa Mendes was published on the Guardian CiF. It looks at the failure to truly honor his memory as well as  how even today there are those with the power to decide to break a rule or a law to save lives.  Here’s an excerpt, please click the link to read the whole thing:

“So you’ve seen our shame, our disgrace?” Those were the first words from an older gentleman wearing a sash along the parade route.

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Solidarity with Immigrants in Portugal

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The other organizations throughout Europe that work to help immigrants are in awe of what we do here, something they have been unable to do,” Timóteo explains with ethusiastic hand gestures in the air, “to run an organization for immigrants that is completely autonomous and not dependent on government or international funds.” He repeats this point to make sure everyone in the room has understood, this place and the people in it, are one of a kind in Europe and perhaps even the world.… Read Full Text

Casa do Passal 2011

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Artistides de Sousa Mendes saved the lives of over 30,000 people in Southern France in 1940. He did so in defiance of orders from the Portuguese Dictator who in turn disgraced him and blacklisted him, eventually leaving him in poverty. This included the loss of Casa do Passal his iconic family home in Cabanas de Viriato.

Only decades later was his name restored and the story of his heroic deed recognized throughout the world.… Read Full Text

ctrp357 Restoring and Reconnecting: The Legacy of Sousa Mendes

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Aristides de Sousa Mendes & Family

Gerald Mendes was born in Canada and raised with the story of his grandfather Aristides de Sousa Mendes.… Read Full Text