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Dr.-Aristides-de-Sousa-Mendes

Consul-General at the Portuguese Consulate in Bordeaux, issued thousands of transit visas in 1940 to Jews and other refugees fleeing Europe through one of the last possible escape routes, through Spain and out from Portugal. This was in direct defiance of the orders of the Portuguese government, which was officially neutral but de facto pro-Hitler. Having been approached by Rabbi Haim Kruger, he promised that everyone who needed a transit visa would receive one, even if they couldn’t pay the fees. de Sousa Mendes, assisted by two of his sons and several Jews, issued visas as quickly as possible. Word of his actions reached Lisbon, and dictator Antonio Salazar summarily dismissed him from foreign service, leaving him penniless and unable to support his family. de Sousa Mendes is responsible for what is likely the largest rescue action made by a single individual, and for this he was named Righteous Among the Nations on October 18, 1966. He was not rehabilitated by the Portuguese government until 1988.