Dantas’ Legacy


We have read in your newspaper (”Ha’aretz Supplement – April 7th., 2006) an interview with the President of Brazil, better known as Lula. Here’s a quote:

”Also should not be forgotten the legacy of the Brazilian Ambassador to Paris, Souza Dantas, who during the War extended Brazilian visas to hundreds of Jews, and by so doing he saved them from Nazism”.

We, at the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, have written/published/documented throughout the years about the feat of the diplomat Souza Dantas and, jointly with various factors we have valued and honored his name and memory.

Whoever reads the words attributed to President Lula, may get the impression that the Government of Brazil has indeed saved Jews.

However, the bitter truth is that the diplomat Souza Dantas had granted visas and had saved Jews despite (and not thanks to) the Brazilian policy. The Government in Brazil opposed him and even took reprisals against the diplomat Souza Dantas, very much like what Portugal had done with the diplomat Sousa Mendes.
We must not blur the facts. If President Lula wants to honor other fellow Brazilians who became heros during WWII, there are other worthy candidates. For instance, the Brazilian Pierre Clausterman, who passed away only three weeks ago, who had fought in France against the Nazis and who, as pilot, brought down scores of planes (and who served as a member of Parliament in Paris during 23 years in a row.

And as far a Souza Dantas is concerned, we continue to work in a relentless effort to honor him, without the assistance, the recognition nor the participation of the Government of Brazil.
Zvi Kichel
International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation