Public Figure Profiles

Aristides de Sousa Mendes

Aristides de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches GCC, OL (July 19, 1885 – April 3, 1954) was a Portuguese consul during World War II.

As the Portuguese consul-general in the French city of Bordeaux, he defied the orders of António de Oliveira Salazar's Estado Novo regime, issuing visas and passports to an undetermined number of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, including Jews. For this, Sousa Mendes was punished by the Salazar regime with one year of inactivity with the right to one half of his rank's pay, being obliged subsequently to be retired. However, he ended up never being expelled from the foreign service nor forced to retire and he received a full consul salary until his death in 1954. One of Sousa Mendes most sympathetic biographers, Rui Afonso, has reckoned that he continued to receive a salary at least three times that of a teacher.Sousa Mendes was vindicated in 1988, more than a decade after the Carnation Revolution, which toppled the Estado Novo.

The number of visas issued by Sousa Mendes is disputed. Yad Vashem historian Avraham Milgram thinks that it was probably Harry Ezratty who was the first to mention in an article published in 1964 that Sousa Mendes had saved 30,000 refugees, of which 10,000 were Jews, a number which has since been repeated automatically by journalists and academics. Milgram says that Ezratty, imprudently, took the total number of Jewish refugees who passed through Portugal and ascribed it to the work of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. According to Milgram “the discrepancy between the reality and the myth of the number of visas granted by Sousa Mendes is great”. A similar opinion is shared by British historian Neill Lochery, by the Portuguese ambassador João Hall Themido, by the Portuguese Ambassador Carlos Frenandes and by the Portuguese historian José Hermano Saraiva. On the other hand, French writer, Eric Lebreton argued that “Milgram did not account for the visas that were delivered in Bayonne, Hendaye and Toulouse”. In 2015, Olivia Mattis, musicologist and Board President of the Sousa Mendes Foundation in the United States, published the findings of the Sousa Mendes Foundation stating that "tens of thousands" of visa recipients is a figure in the correct order of magnitude.For his efforts to save Jewish refugees, Sousa Mendes was recognized by Israel as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, the first diplomat to be so honored, in 1966.

Portuguese diplomats such as Ambassador João Hall Themido and Ambassador Carlos Fernandes have argued that Sousa Mendes actions have been inflated and twisted in order to attack Salazar. Similar opinion was voiced by historian Tom Gallagher who argues that evidence that Sousa Mendes efforts were especially directed towards fleeing Jews is also speculative. British, Americans and Portuguese, often people with means, figured prominently as recipients of visas. Gallagher thinks that the disproportionate attention given to Sousa Mendes suggests that wartime history is being used as a political weapon in contemporary Portugal.On 9 June 2020, Portugal granted official recognition to Sousa Mendes. Parliament decided a monument in the National Pantheon should bear his name. In 2017 in the Portuguese border town of Vilar Formoso a memorial museum was opened, known as Vilar Formoso Fronteira da Paz (Frontier of Peace) recording the experiences of refugees entering Portugal, many of whom had been given visas by Sousa Mendes.

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Some of their strengths

Aristides de Sousa Mendes has many admirable traits.

Based on spiritual traditions from around the world, they are someone who can be described as Creative, Imaginative, Compassionate, Loyal, Inquisitive, Practical, and Kind.

Intuitive and Imaginative

According to Mysticism’s Astrology tradition, Aristides de Sousa Mendes is someone who is a highly intuitive, creative and imaginative person who is very loyal, caring and compassionate to others. A person who looks for jobs that tend to reflect their identity.

Soulful and Intuitive

Based on Daoism’s Ba-Zi or ‘Chinese Zodiac’ tradition, people who know Aristides de Sousa Mendes well know them as someone who can be graceful, romantic, and reserved, like gentle rain.

Productive and Perseverent

According to Hinduism’s Jyotisha or ‘Vedic Astrology’ tradition, many would also describe Aristides de Sousa Mendes as someone who is productive, persevering, deliberate, and direct.

A person who is creative, has good luck with work and money, good listening skills, good relationships with people at work, is a good teacher or counselor, and who is good at organizing groups, teams, or causes.

Vigorous and Friendly

Based on the Mayan Tzolk’in or ‘Mayan Astrology’ tradition, Aristides de Sousa Mendes is someone who has a vigor and energy that applies itself to all life's activities and endeavors, and a knack for forming family-like structures, groups, and communities.

They are also someone who is active, giving, optimistic, and cheerful, and who possesses a charisma that attracts friends and admirers.

Traditional and Patient

According to Judaism’s Kabbalah tradition, Aristides de Sousa Mendes tends to be someone who is a patient person that is very emotional, has a very sharp memory, has an ability to understand people, and who tends to be traditional and frugal.

Some of Aristides de Sousa Mendes's challenges

While Aristides de Sousa Mendes has many strengths, nobody is perfect. They also have some challenging traits they need to manage.

For example, Aristides de Sousa Mendes can be Self-centered, Stubborn, Impulsive, Emotional, Standoffish, Hesitant, and Narcissistic.

Emotional and Standoffish

One of Aristides de Sousa Mendes's key challenges is that they are someone who can be emotional and standoffish.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes must also exercise caution as they can have a hard time reconciling wants and needs.

Possessive and Stubborn

Aristides de Sousa Mendes is someone who can be possessive, jealous, inflexible, and stubborn, can have a habit of being a frivolous spender, and who can feel insecure or cynical in romantic relationships and have difficulty forming productive personal and professional partnerships.

Sensitive and Money-oriented

Finally, Aristides de Sousa Mendes also can have mood swings, be overly sensititive, and be a bit rigid and materialistic.

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