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Another of the Intransigent Ones: Sousa Mendes, Lawyer, Diplomat and Savior of 30,000 Wartime Refugees
November 24, 2014 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
After a screening of Semyon Pinkhasov’s new documentary, …With God Against Man…, we will discuss its subject, the Portuguese diplomat Aristedes de Sousa Mendes. During 1939-40, as Consul General from Portugal in Bordeaux, France, Sousa Mendes had to make a fateful decision: should he follow the orders of his government and decline to give life-saving visas to thousands of refugees fleeing Hitler’s Europe, or follow his conscience and disobey these instructions. To contradict his own government meant the end of his career as well as hardship for his large family including his 15 children back in Portugal. Sousa Mendes, intransigently, went with the dictates of his conscience and not of his government. Thanks to this firm adherence to what he knew was right, 30,000 people were brought to safety from Vichy France to Portugal, in whose neutral borders they found at least temporary safety.
This event, like the film that we are featuring, brings to life and further recognizes the steadfastness of an insufficiently acknowledged wartime hero. A panel following the film discusses Sousa Mendes and elaborates his pathway to humanitarianism.