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34924Y192 In the spring of 1940, when the nazis...

OVERRAN FRANCE
FROM THE NORTH, MUCH OF
THE JEWISH POPULATION TRIED
TO ESCAPE THE COUNTRY TOWARDS THE SOUTH.
In order to cross the border they needed visas to Spain & Portugal,
& together with a flood of other refugees, tens of thousands of Jews besieged
the Portugese consulate in Bordeaux, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, decided to disregard
the order, throwing to the wind a 30-year diplomatic career. ÀS Nazitanks were closing in
on Bordeaux, Sousa Mendes & his team worked around the clock for ten days and nights, barely
stopping to sleep, just issuing visas & stamping pieces of paper. SM issued thousands of visas before
collapsing from exhaustion. The Portuguese government - which had little desire to accept any of those refugees
- sent agents to escort thr disobedient consul back home, & dismissed him from the foreign office.
Yet officials who cared little for the plight of human beings nevertheless had a deep reverance for
documents, and the visas Sousa Mendes issued against orders were respected by French,
Spanish & Potugese bureaucrats alike, spiriting up to 30,000 people out of the Nazi
death trap! Sousa Mendes, armed with little more than
a rubber stamp, is thus responsible for the largest
rescue operation by a single individual
during the Holocaust. The
sanctity of written records
often had far
less positive
effects.