The Sousa Mendes Foundation: An Update
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: How many different countries did recipients of Sousa Mendes visas come from?
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 thousands of people fleeing Nazi Germany, including Jews. In 1966 Yad Vashem recognized him as Righteous Among the Nations.
The Sousa Mendes Foundation was founded in 2010 and is dedicated to honoring the memory of Sousa Mendes. In 2016 we spoke with Dan Subotnik, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the Sousa Mendes Foundation. In that program he told us about the life and work of Sousa Mendes, and what the Foundation is doing to preserve his legacy.
We recently visited the headquarters of the Sousa Mendes Foundation in Greenlawn, New York. We spoke with Dan Subotnik again and also with Olivia Mattis, the President and COO of the Foundation. They told us about how the organization has developed since 2016, and the work that they are doing in Portugal and around the world to preserve Sousa Mendes’ legacy. We were also able to see some of the documents in the Foundation’s archive, which includes passports and artifacts of some of the people who Sousa Mendes saved. And we learned of the many activities that the Foundation has organized online since the beginning of the pandemic.