The actions of three Portuguese diplomats in World War II

Going against the orders of the Portuguese government or stretching the strict selection criteria imposed regarding visas, the Portuguese diplomats recalled in this exhibition acted according to the dictates of their conscience and the generosity of their nature.



Jaime Gama
Minister of State and of Foreign Affairs
September 2000

At a public ceremony the Portuguese Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, acknowledged and confirmed the rehabilitation of the memory of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, restoring the truth concerning both his image and his diplomatic career.

At the time an idea was born of making the documentary testimonies of his actions during the Second World War (during which he granted entry visas into Portugal to as many Jewish refugees as sought him out at the Consulate in Bordeaux) known to a wider public.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes disobeyed the instructions of the Portuguese Government of the time but saved thousands of lives in the light of his principles and his conscience. Two other Portuguese diplomats, Carlos Sampaio Garrido and Alberto Teixeira Branquinho, acted in a limited way along similar lines.

This exhibition will travel the United States of America throughout our network of consulates. Its aim on the one hand will be to remind the Portuguese community in the United States of this manifestation of humanism by three of their compatriots and on the other to raise American society’s awareness of the actions developed by these diplomats which made it possible for thousands of Jewish refugees to find in Portugal a gateway to safety and stability on the American continent, where they started new lives and families, whose descendants are alive today.

Refuges waiting to board, Rocha do Conde de Óbidos Dock, Lisbon /1940