Remembering Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux in June 1940

August 15, 2014

Sousa Mendes 1940Aristides de Sousa Mendes (1885-1954) was the Portuguese Consul-General in Bordeaux, France, in June 1940. There, as dramatic events unfolded across war-afflicted Europe, Sousa Mendes disobeyed the orders of Portugal’s Salazar dictatorship and issued visas to thousands of refugees fleeing from invading German military forces. For his actions, the Consul was punished by the Portuguese government and had his consular career terminated. Following the 1974 Portuguese democratic revolution, Sousa Mendes received posthumous rehabilitation and recognition. In the last decades, he has been widely honoured both in Portugal and internationally for what has been described by Yad Vashem historian Yehuda Bauer as “perhaps the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.”

Founded in 2010, the Sousa Mendes Foundation ( is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Sousa Mendes whilst raising awareness and reflection about the Portuguese Consul’s act of conscience. One of its goals is to attempt to identify all recipients of visas issued by Sousa Mendes in Bordeaux in June 1940.
Because many of these visa recipients travelled to the U.K. – normally en route to another final destination – it is crucial to consider ship passenger manifests from 1940-1942 (particularly those ships arriving in the U.K. from Portugal during that period, as well as boats arriving from Bordeaux in June 1940). We would be really grateful if any readers/contributors could provide further information about which U.K. ports of arrival were being used during this period, and where such records and/or other relevant sources are currently being held. If you think you can help, please write to: Angela Campos, or call (+44)07766532034. Thank you so much in advance for your help!

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