Portuguese consul’s sacrifice bigger than Schindler’s: Filmmaker

November 28th, 2011 - 2:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Nov 28 (IANS) Portuguese diplomat Artistides de Sousa Mendes weighs heavier on the scale of compassion and heroism than Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved the lives of nearly 1,500 Jewish workers during World War II, maker of Portuguese historic film “Consul of Bordeaux” said Monday.

Speaking to IANS, Francisco Manso, co-director of the film which opened the 42nd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), said Mendes — played by Vitor North in the movie — saved over 30,000 Jews during World War II by issuing them visas for safe passage to Portugal, much to the chagrin of Portuguese rulers.

“The difference is great. Of course, Sousa Mendes was greater in comparison to Oskar Schindler of ‘Schindler’s List’ because when he (Mendes) returned to Portugal, he was finished, unlike Schindler,” Manso said.

The “Consul of Bordeaux”, an 2011 award winning co-production between Spain and Portugal, is based on the life of Portuguese consul general Aristides de Sousa Mendes in Bordeaux, France, who helped thousands of Jewish refugees to extricate themselves from France into Portugal in order to save persecution from German forces after Hitler invaded Belgium and the Netherlands in May 1940.

“Schindler’s List”, a 1990s film produced by Academy Award winning director Steven Spielberg, had renowned actor Liam Neeson playing a kind-hearted German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saves the lives of nearly 1,500 Jews by pulling them out of concentration camps and giving them odd jobs in his industrial units working for the war efforts.

“Mendes was the single biggest saviour of human beings in duress ever. The biggest in all times. He knew that when he returned to Portugal his career and life was over. He died in penury and his sons and family had to leave Portugal. This is a great sacrifice by a single individual,” Manso added.

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