On July 26, 2001 the Embassy of Portugal to Argentina and the Raoul Wallenberg International Foundation (IRWF) presented the exhibition ‘Spared lives’, a collection of documents belonging to the Diplomatic Historical Files of the Portugal State Department. The opening act took place at the Embassy of Portugal. The exhibition will remain open to the public for fifteen days from 9:30 to 12:30 and from 14:30 to 17:00 from Mondays to Fridays.
More than one hundred people attended the ceremony including the Ambassadors of Belgium, Holland, Germany, Sweden and Israel as well as the Chief Rabbi Salomón Ben Hamú and the Apostolic Nuncio Santos Abril y Castelló. Renowned writer Marcos Aguinis, member of the IRWF, was in charge of presenting the opening and Peter Landelius, Ambassador of Sweden, stressed the IRWF educational programs because they ”emphasize the exercise of selective memory, remembering the positive lessons that the horror of the Shoá has left us’.
Baruj Tenembaum, founder of the IRWF, presented the sculpture ‘Homage to Raoul Wallenberg’ by Argentine artist Norma D´Ippolito, to the Ambassador of Portugal José Augusto Seabra.
”Spared lives” is a historical tour through letters, photographs and testimonies that show the way in which three Portuguese diplomats worked beyond what is possible to save the lives of tens of thousands of people persecuted by Adolf Hitler’s national socialist regime
Thousands of refugees, mostly Jewish, went through Portugal during the tragic days of the Second World War. Many of those lives were saved thanks to the courage and determination of Aristides de Sousa Mendes (Bordeaux, 1940), Carlos de Sampaio Garrido and Alberto Texeira Branquihno (Budapest, 1944). On April 3, 2001 the IRWF had paid a tribute to Sousa Mendes in New York City.
The documents presented try to show the realities of two different instances within the same war whereas they are also a reflection of the example given by three civil servants who gave the best of their abilities with the only aim of helping those who were in danger in spite of the official guidelines against it.