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Portugal honors Holocaust-era saver of Jews

The Portuguese government paid tribute to a diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis.

Aristides Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul general in Bordeaux when the Germans invaded France in 1940, issued transit visas to some 10,000 Jews and 20,000 other refugees against the wishes of the Portuguese government.

Sousa Mendes was called back to Lisbon and stripped of his position and pension due to his violation of Portugal’s policy of neutrality during World War II. He also was forbidden from practicing law and died in poverty a decade later.

He reportedly said in defiance of his orders, “I’d rather be with God against man than with man against God.”

The Portuguese government launched a Web site about Sousa Mendes on Tuesday. The site, with photographs, videos and documents, comes after his family had sought for years to have his reputation restored.

The Portuguese Parliament posthumously reinstated Sousa Mendes, promoted him to ambassador and paid compensation to his surviving family members. They, in turn, have repurchased the home of Sousa Mendes, which they plan to turn into a museum.

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