During the Second World War, Aristides de Sousa Mendes was Portugal’s counsul-general in the French city of Bordeaux. Antonio Salazar, Portugal’s authoritarian leader, forbade the issuance of Portuguese visas to refugees desperate to escape Nazi Germany. Sousa Mendes defied his own government and provided tens of thousands of such life-saving documents — including to many fleeing Jews. (Exactly how many Jews he rescued is unclear.) For his efforts to save Jewish refugees, Sousa Mendes was recognized by Israel as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.
Quote: “For three days that June, Aristides agonized over what to do. On June 17, 1940, with his jet-black hair having turned white practically overnight, he began issuing visas to everyone, regardless of nationality or religion, in direct violation of Salazar’s Circular 14. He said he would ‘rather stand with God against man than with man against God.’ ”
Sources: Wikipedia (introduction), The Jerusalem Post (introduction and quotation)
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