RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (JTA) — A documentary about a Brazilian Righteous Gentile will be produced in Brazil.
Titled "Good to Brazil," the expression that was written on Brazilian entrance visas, the film will feature the life of Luis Martins de Souza Dantas, the Brazilian ambassador to Paris who saved some 800 people from the Holocaust during WWII by giving them illegal diplomatic visas, including 425 Jews.
Based on the book "Quixote in the Darkness" by historian Fabio Koifman, the documentary will focus on Dantas’ deeds during the Nazi occupation in France and Brazil’s President Getulio Vargas’ orders that forbade visas to "Semites and other undesirable," which also included communists and homosexuals.
Unknown to most Brazilians and unmentioned in local history books, Dantas was nominated as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2003. The French government has also placed a plaque that reads "A friend of France" in front of the house where Dantas lived in Paris.
Dantas granted visas to hundreds of Jews while taking great care to cover all evidence of their Jewishness. He often forged the issue dates of the diplomatic visas, in order to predate the subsequent ban on their use. Suspicions mounted against Dantas, and he was recalled to Brazil for disciplinary hearings. He was saved from trial by a technicality – namely, his status as a retiree during the period in which he forged the visas.
Some testimonies from survivors have been recorded for the documentary, and research was conducted in Europe and North America.
Dantas was Brazil’s second Righteous Among the Nations. Before him, diplomatic clerk Aracy Guimaraes Rosa was honored by Yad Vashem in 1982.