Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul in France, credited for having saved thousands of lives during World War II, was honored today, Holocaust Remembrance Day, in Huntington, NY, at an event promoted by the Sousa Mendes Foundation.
The event, open to the public, presented the U.S. film premiere of Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story, directed by Joel Santoni and starring Bernard Lecoq as Aristides de Sousa Mendes, followed by a ceremony in memory of the victms and heroes of the Holocaust.
The guest speaker, Dr. Sylvain Bromberger, professor emeritus at MIT, was a recipient of a life-saving visa from Aristides de Sousa Mendes.
There will be a second screening of the film on Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 10:15 a.m. at the Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Avenue, Huntington, NY.
Aristides de Sousa Mendes , the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux, France, during World War II, saved an estimated 30,000 lives, the majority of them Jewish, when Paris fell to the advancing Nazi army in June of 1940. Helped by his wife and children, Sousa Mendes issued visas to as many refugees as he could without regard to nationality or religion.
He issued visas against the Portuguese government orders for which he was recalled and subjected to disciplinary action. A father of 14 children, he died destitute and in obscurity in 1954.
Founded in 2010, the Sousa Mendes Foundation is dedicated to honoring the memory of Aristides de Sousa Mendes and to educating the world about his good work.