My grandfather was a Portuguese diplomat in Bordeaux, when the Germans occupied Paris in 1940. Thousands of scared people were fleeing the Nazis, trying to get to Spain and Portugal, and from there to the United States. My grandfather asked Salazar, the prime minister, for permission to issue visas for all those people. Salazar refused, but my grandfather had the courage to disobey.
He understood he had a role to play and decided to save as many lives as possible. He issued about thirty thousand visas and so saved as many lives.
Salazar punished him severely. He was dismissed from the diplomatic career, his numerous children had to start a new life in foreign countries. He died alone and ignored. Only forty years later was he recognized in his own country.”
Francisco Sousa Mendes
Grandson of Aristides de Sousa Mendes