Friday, February 15, 2019

Angel of Bordeaux

From War History Online:
Above everything else, Sousa was a very religious man. He sincerely believed in the might of good deeds. He had a Christian conscience that never allowed him to turn his back on the moral and human principles his religion preached. More importantly, his faith was not based on words only. He knew that he could practice his faith only through his deeds. Because of his beliefs, Sousa put his entire career, and even his life and the lives of his entire family, at stake. 
Now it was mid-June 1940. Germans were everywhere and France was on the verge of defeat. Refugees were running south, many of them through Bordeaux. One night Rabbi Haim Kruger, a Polish refugee, asked Sousa to issue visas to thousands of Jews who had gathered in the city. At first, Sousa only agreed to give visas to Kruger and his family, but the rabbi rejected the offer. It was all of them, or no one, he said. 
After wrestling with his conscience for two days and nights, Sousa decided that he would issue visas to all who needed them. He knew that as a true Christian he could not turn his back to people who desperately needed help. 
The problem was that doing so was in complete opposition to the orders he had received from his government. Even though Portugal remained neutral during the entire war, Prime Minister Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was openly sympathetic toward Nazis and especially Hitler. In order to please Hitler, Salazar issued the notorious “Circular 14” forbidding all Jews, Soviets, dissidents, and stateless persons to enter Portugal. Sousa also received a Circular. Completely aware of all the repercussions, he decided to go with his conscience. (Read more.)

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