Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Portuguese Who Saved Thousands During the War

As a consul in Bordeaux, France, Sousa Mendes saved individuals persecuted by the Nazi regime, giving them Portuguese visas in violation of the neutrality of his government.

Beginning June 16, 1940, Sousa Mendes openly defied his government and began granting visas non-stop to all who came to his consulate until Germany bombed Bordeaux three days later. Most notable among the applicants were several Hapsburgs, members of the Austrian imperial family.

Upon learning the news, Portuguese dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar ordered Sousa Mendes' arrest and trial. Nevertheless, since the dictator kept the borders open, 1 million refugees were eventually able to escape using the route mapped out by Sousa Mendez through Spain.

Stripped from his position as consulate, he and his family fell into disfortune and he eventually died in poverty.

now this guy is a classic hero. he did the right thing but ended up with nothing. it is yet another clear example of why good things are done only by those with courage and heroic determination. cowards would never ever consider what he did for they know exactly what the consequences are.

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