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United Jewish Federation Screens Film In Stamford About Holocaust Rescuer

"Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story" is about a Portiuguese official who helped Jews escape the Nazis.
"Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story" is about a Portiuguese official who helped Jews escape the Nazis. Photo Credit: Contributed

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Community members are invited to a film screening of the award-winning docudrama "Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story" on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. at The State Cinema, 990 Hope St. in Stamford. 

Tickets are $10 and are available at the door. All proceeds will benefit the Sousa Mendes Foundation, and light refreshments will be served. 

The film tells the true story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul stationed in Bordeaux, France during World War II. When the Nazis invaded in 1940, Sousa Mendes granted Portuguese visas to thousands of refugees, against the strict orders of his government which remained neutral during the war, in a feat described by historian Yehuda Bauer as "perhaps the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust." 

As a result of his act of conscience, Sousa Mendes was punished by his government for "disobedience," stripped of his position, and blacklisted. He died in 1954 in poverty and disgrace. The film screening will be followed by a brief testimonial by Stamford resident Karen Denker, the daughter and granddaughter of recipients of visas from Sousa Mendes. 

"Finding out that my mother and her family had been saved by the compassion and selfless acts of this heroic Catholic man was literally life-altering," said Denker. "It is a lesson that should never be forgotten and must be told to all." 

In 1966, Sousa Mendes was posthumously recognized as a "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust authority. The Portuguese government honored Sousa Mendes in the 1980's, as a result of pressure from the U.S. government. 

The Sousa Mendes Foundation, founded in 2010, is dedicated to honoring the memory of Sousa Mendes and teaching the importance of moral courage in a civilized world. Click here for the foundation's web site

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