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Mendes, Aristides de Sousa, 1885-1954



  • Existence: 18850719 - 19540403

Biographical / Historical

Mr. Sousa Mendes was Portugal's consul in Bordeaux when Germany invaded France in 1940 during World War II. According to the Sousa Mendes Foundation which is run by descendents of the visa recipients, he provided approximately 30,000 people with Portuguese visas to escape Nazi persecution. His status as one of the most important protectors of the Jewish people, if not the precise number of visas, has been confirmed by Yehuda Bauer, a Holocaust historian at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Mr. Sousa Mendes started ignoring Lisbon's orders and delivering his visas in 1939, several months before Germany's invasion of France, in part because he had a twin brother, a fellow Portuguese diplomat, who was stationed in Warsaw and told him about Nazi atrocities there. When the Portuguese government realized the scale of his disobedience, Mr. Sousa Mendes was recalled to Lisbon, tried and dismissed from the diplomatic service. Stripped of his pension rights, he died in poverty in 1954.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Guide to the Isaac Bitton (1926- ) Papers

Identifier: ASF AR 13

Isaac Bitton (1926- ) was born in Lisbon, Portugal. He immigrated to Palestine in the early 1940s where he would go on to serve in the Jewish Brigade of the British Army and later the Israeli Defense Force. He and his family moved to the US in 1959, eventually settling in Woodstock, Illinois. He was a successful executive and philanthropist. This collection contains correspondence and addresses related to the efforts of Isaac Bitton in the restoration of the Jewish cemetery in Faro, Portugal and the recognition of Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes in the aid given to Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. The collection also contains some material related to his work with the US government, in particular the Small Business Administration.

Dates: undated, 1986-1997