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Subject: A Good Man rss

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João 'Finding a new way to make you WTF today' Marum
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On July the 19th of the year of 1885, in Cabanas de Viriato in the northern interior region of Portugal, a good man was born. His name was Aristides de Sousa Mendes, and history would remember him as a man who was guided by conscience.

As the shadow of the Nazi regime loomed over the city of Bordeaux, in France, where Aristides was acting consul of Portugal with strict orders from Portugal's fascist leader, Salazar, not to issue any vistas to "foreigners of indefinite or contested nationality; the stateless; or Jews expelled from their countries of origin".

Aristides had been struck by tragedy. His second son had died suddenly while at a family dinner celebrating his graduation. Yet, with his wife Angelina, they suffered through the times until the fateful year of 1940, where he was consul in Bordeaux.

As the Nazi war machine rolled over France, thousands upon thousands saw in the Portuguese consulate the only hope of salvation. Yet Aristides was tied by strict diplomatic orders from Lisbon not to accept anyone.

As the despair grew so did Aristide's despair as well, stricken down by so much suffering and pain. He tried to help in any way he could and finally he himself was struck down with illness and retired to his bedroom for three days.

When he returned, his black hair had turned completely white, and he was a man free of any chains to do what his conscience mandated.

On June 17 1940 Aristides, defying all his orders and guided only by his conscience, ordered that everyone in or around the building, everyone regardless of religion or nationality, everyone who needed a visa into Portugal should get one, free of any charge. An assembly line was put into place, with his wife Angelina, his sons and some friends frantically issuing visas. There were no priorities. When the Habsburg family came in to ask for a visa, he ordered them back in line. For him, all those who were suffering were of equal value and would be attended in equal order. When the Habsburg representative returned he not only took visas for the entire family, but for many Austrians as well.

From June 17 to June 23 Aristides worked non-stop. He did not sleep and barely ate. He frantically issued visas, sometimes on scrap of papers. He left Bordeaux and headed to Hendaye on June 22nd when France submitted to the Nazis, to man the consulate there, close to the Spanish border. Thousands more visas were issued to anyone, everyone, who needed one.

Then on June 23 it all ended. as Portugal's highest envoy to Spain arrived and declared Aristides mentally insane. He was relieved of his duty and all his visas were declared null and void. Aristides returned to Portugal, but slowly, issuing passports as much as he could to save as many as he still could.

Salazar allowed no disobedience, and so Aristides and his family were put to suffer, when Salazar made a law where it was strictly prohibited to help Aristides and his family in any way or form.

He died in 1954, in absolute poverty, buried in the robes of local monks as he had no longer any clothes anymore.

His actions saved more than 30000 people in 6 days alone, but saved millions indirectly as his actions forced Salazar's hand and the refugee route to Portugal was forcefully open due to Aristides' acts, a route that could not be closed.

History would not remember his name until recently. Even today Portuguese politicians are reluctant to pay homage to a great man due to the fact he went against the State's orders. Yet this man acted according to the greatest of moral imperatives, not to serve country or an ideology, but rather to serve his conscience and to serve those who suffered. By this, he became one of the greatest man ever lived and without a doubt the greatest man Portugal ever had.

In July 19th a great, good man was born, a man many do not know. Aristides de Sousa Mendes was born in that day, and he, along with so many in those dark days, from Raoul Wallenberg to Chiune Sugihara to Oscar Schindler to John Rabe, with these many who gave their all for the greatest cause but ended up paying dearly, many with their own lives, he and them must never be forgotten. For they did the greatest act a man could ever do, they saved lives, often at a great cost.

Lest we forget, remember the heroes. Do not let their names fade into oblivion.

"It was indeed my objective to save all those persons, whose affliction was beyond describing. The imperatives of my conscience... never ceased to guide me in the performance of my duties, with perfect knowledge of my responsibilities."
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Billy McBoatface
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Harry Bingham, an American diplomat, did the same thing; he issued many visas that he had been ordered not to. He is estimated to have saved about 2500 people (far less than Aristides, but that's still a lot of visa writing!), and he didn't die in poverty, but it did cost him his career as a diplomat. Looking back it seems obvious that granting visas to people running from the Germans is more important than following orders, but then again, it wasn't until the war was over that it became clear how many people were being killed by the Nazis. In reality, it would have been much easier to follow orders, and hope that in the end the people you are denying visas to will be OK anyway. So people like Aristides and Bingham were ruining their own careers (or their life) just so they could save people who MIGHT die otherwise. Thankfully they did this, and didn't take the easy way out!

Edit: GAAAH! I had the name wrong. It is HARRY Bingham; I originally put this as HENRY Bingham.
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午餐先生
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MGBM wrote:
Lest we forget, remember the heroes. Do not let their names fade into oblivion.


Amen.
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GMOFreePortland.com
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Thanks João and Bill. Two names have now been added to my list of heroes.
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Mike Adams
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MGBM wrote:
On July the 19th of the year of 1885, in Cabanas de Viriato in the northern interior region of Portugal, a good man was born.

...

In June 19th a great, good man was born, a man many do not know. Aristides de Sousa Mendes was born in that day,..


Objection! Sorry, I've been playing Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney today, which apparently heightens my ability to notice inconsistencies and point them out. I think you have a contradiction a typo on the second listing of his birth date.

I also remembered he died on April 3rd, per your previous post.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/3307582
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João 'Finding a new way to make you WTF today' Marum
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Mike A wrote:
MGBM wrote:
On July the 19th of the year of 1885, in Cabanas de Viriato in the northern interior region of Portugal, a good man was born.

...

In June 19th a great, good man was born, a man many do not know. Aristides de Sousa Mendes was born in that day,..


Objection! Sorry, I've been playing Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney today, which apparently heightens my ability to notice inconsistencies and point them out. I think you have a contradiction a typo on the second listing of his birth date.

I also remembered he died on April 3rd, per your previous post.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/3307582


Yeap, a typo, corrected now. He did die on April 3rd 1954 in abject poverty, literally without even clothes to be buried with.
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Billy McBoatface
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And I was inaccurate also! It's not Henry Bingham. It's Harry Bingham, I had misremembered the name: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiram_Bingham_IV
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Samuel Sol
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MGBM wrote:
Lest we forget, remember the heroes. Do not let their names fade into oblivion.

"It was indeed my objective to save all those persons, whose affliction was beyond describing. The imperatives of my conscience... never ceased to guide me in the performance of my duties, with perfect knowledge of my responsibilities."
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