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‎13 Av 5782 | ‎09/08/2022

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Aristides de Sousa Mendes: Portuguese Righteous Among the Nations

Aristides de Sousa Mendes: Portuguese Righteous Among the Nations

ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: Who is helping to fund the restoration of Sousa Mendes’s house in Portugal, and what will the house be used for?

On January 27, Europe commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day.  This date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops in 1945.  This year, English Corner is commemorating this day with a program about a diplomat who disobeyed his own government in order to save refugees from Nazi Germany.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes was the Portuguese consul-general in the French city of Bordeaux during World War II. As an act of conscience he defied the orders of Portuguese dictator Salazar’s regime by issuing visas and passports to an undetermined number of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, including Jews. For this he was severely punished by his government, and died in poverty in 1954. In 1966 he was among the first to be named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Authority.

The Sousa Mendes Foundation was founded in 2010 and is dedicated to honoring the memory of Sousa Mendes. It is also engaged in a worldwide search for families who escaped the Holocaust through Portugal. We spoke with Dan Subotnik, who teaches at the Touro College Law Center in Central Islip, New York and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Sousa Mendes Foundation. He told us about the life and work of Sousa Mendes, and what the Foundation is doing to preserve his legacy.

During the pandemic the Sousa Mendes Foundation has been hosting some very interesting events online.  You can find more information about them and sign up here.

(Note:  This interview was originally posted in 2016.)