Discussion posted by: Arye ben-Shaoul
Eighty years ago, a middle-aged, mid-ranking diplomat sank into deep depression and watched his hair turn grey in days, as he saw the streets of Bordeaux filling with Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. As Portugal’s consul in Bordeaux, Aristides de Sousa Mendes faced a moral dilemma. Should he obey government orders or listen to his own conscience and supply Jews with the visas that would allow them to escape from advancing German forces? Sousa Mendes’ remarkable response means he is remembered as a hero by survivors and descendants of the thousands he helped to flee. But his initiative also spelt the end of a diplomatic career under Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, and the rest of his life was spent in penury.