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Aristides de Sousa Mendes – a hero of the Second World War

Aristides de Sousa Mendes was a Portuguese diplomat who, during the Second World War, saved around 30,000 lives from Nazi persecution.

As Consul of Portugal in Bordeaux, in the year of the invasion of France by Nazi Germany – in 1940, Aristides de Sousa Mendes issued thousands of visas to Jews and other persecuted Europeans to be able to enter Portugal and escape persecution. This was regarded as the largest rescue action undertaken by an individual person.

Born in 1885, in Cabanas de Viriato, Aristides de Sousa Mendes marks the history of Carregal do Sal (one hour from Coimbra). It’s there that we find several elements that are part of his history: its childhood and family home, Casa do Passal, classified as a National Monument since 2011.

But Coimbra also tells part of his story: it was here that, between 1902 and 1907, he graduated in Law at the University of Coimbra. In 1910, he specialized in Diplomacy. The Faculty of Law was a space for freedom of expression and thought that certainly influenced the life of Aristides de Sousa Mendes.

Currently, his memory is perpetuated in the city: the number 16 of Sobre-Ripas Street honors the Portuguese Diplomat with the presence of a plaque evoking the time he lived there; in 2004, a street in the city center was named “Avenida Aristides de Sousa Mendes”.

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Hotel Oslo - Coimbra
Av. Fernão de Magalhães, 25
3000-175 Coimbra, Portugal
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