The Day of Conscience

Thursday June 17, 2010

The Day of Conscience

Category :: Community
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the day in which Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Consul-General of Portugal in Bordeaux during WWII, decided, against explicit orders of his government, to follow his conscience as a human being and give visas to everybody trying to escape the horrors of the Holocaust.

On that day Sousa Mendes started a battle against time. He issued visas day and night, managing to rescue 30,000 people in just a few days, before being forcefully recalled back to Portugal. It was his friendship with Rabbi Chaim (Haim) Kruger, who had fled to France from Antwerp, that partly inspired him to undertake such an endeavor.

In Portugal, he was expelled from diplomatic core and was prevented from exercising his law profession. Stripped of his pension, he died in poverty on April 3, 1954.

As we remember this day, "Day of Conscience", we remember all the diplomats who had courage to do likewise, and save people form the horrors of the Holocaust: Raoul Wallenberg, Carl Lutz, Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas, Angelo Roncali and many others.

Religious Services in honor of Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Brazilian diplomat Luis Martins de Souza Dantas and other brave diplomat rescuers happening today in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Salvador de Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Montreal, Paris, Bordeaux, Rome and Lisbon! Otherwise, private prayers should be done to remember those that helped Jews!

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