March 30, 2011

Honoring Holocaust Rescuers in Mineola and Newark

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation together with the Sousa Mendes Foundation is presenting a series of events on April 2-3, 2011,in honor of Holocaust Rescuers.

On Saturday, April 2, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Diplomat from Portugal who rescued 30,000 lives will be honored in the village of Mineola, NY. The event will be held at the Mineola Memorial Library located at 195 Marcellus Road and will include a storytelling, a film presentation, an exhibition, refreshments and more.

Guests of honor will be New York State Senator Jack Martins, a Portuguese-American politician, and J. J. Prins, a Sousa Mendes’ visa recipient who was rescued as a young child.

The program of the event will be as follows:

1:00 p.m. Storytelling for children from the Curious George series, whose authors

Hans and Margret Rey were saved by Aristides de Sousa Mendes.

1:45 p.m. Reception of Portuguese delicacies and a chance to view the exhibition“These are my people!The story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes.”

2:30 p.m. Remarks by Charles Sleefe, Director, Mineola Memorial Library, andSenator Jack Martins.

2:45 p.m. Presentation of the film “The Consul of Bordeaux,” a fictionalized accountof the story of Sousa Mendes.

4:15 p.m. A word from a Sousa Mendes’ visa recipient J. J. Prins, followed by a Q&A session and closing remarks by Olivia Mattis from the Sousa Mendes Foundation, curator of the exhibition.

On Sunday, April 3, Newark, NJ, will be a location for the events organized in honor of two diplomat rescuers Sousa Mendes from Portugal and Martins de Souza Dantas, from Brazil.

At 11.45 a Mass by Brazilian Bishop H.E. D. Edgar Moreira da Cunha dedicated to these exceptional men will be held at Our Lady of Fatima Church, at 82 Congress Street in Newark.

Later that afternoon at 6.00 PM a screening of the first feature film on Aristides Sousa Mendes, “The Consul of Bordeaux,” will be held at the Sport Club Portugues (SCP), located at 55 Prospect Street in Newark.

The entrance is free of charge.

All the events are organized by João Crisóstomo on behalf of the Sousa Mendes Foundation and the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation and are made possible with the help of the Mineola Memorial Library, the Sport Club Portugues (SCP) and the Serranos Club.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes (July 19, 1885 – April 3, 1954) was the Portuguese Consul-General in Bordeaux, France duringthe Second World War. In 1940, after the invasion by the Nazi forces of Belgium,The Netherlands, Luxembourg and France, he found himself confronted with thereality of untold numbers of refugees desperate to escape to neutral Portugal. Although the Portuguese official government policy was to not allow any refugees within its borders, Sousa Mendes chose to defy these inhumane orders andfollow his conscience instead. Within a short period of time in May and June of1940 he issued visas to Portugal to anyone who asked, and consequently was harshlypunished by his government for his actions.
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Luis Martins de Souza Dantas (Rio de Janeiro, 1876 – Paris, 1954)was serving as the Brazilian ambassador to France and to the Vichy Government during the German occupation. Moved for what he later called ”a Christian feeling of mercy,”he granted diplomatic visas to enter Brazil to hundreds of people who, from the point of view of the Brazilian immigration policy, were considered undesirable. They were Jews, communists and homosexuals who were running away from the horror of Nazism. Due to complaints and after an official investigation of his actions, he was ordered to stop issuing visas, but he chose not to comply and instead continued issuing visas forging the issue date to a date prior to the order.With his actions, Souza Dantas saved around 800 people.
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