SALT LAKE CITY -- On April 15 the exhibit "'These Are My People!' The Story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes" will open on the first floor of the University of Utah's Marriott Library. The nationally touring exhibition tells the story of the heroic actions of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who helped 30,000 people escape the horrors of World War II.
The exhibit, which will be on display through Sunday, May 29, 2011, is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the United Jewish Federation of Utah, in partnership with the Sousa Mendes Foundation and the University of Utah. The Marriott library is located at 295 S 1500 E, Salt Lake City, UT.
Through his work as a Portuguese diplomat, Sousa Mendes created an escape route through Spain to Portugal, for World War II refugees. Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer has called his heroic feat "the greatest act of rescue by a single individual during the Holocaust." Sousa Mendes was censured by his country and died in poverty in 1954.
These Are My People! tells the story of Sousa Mendes through 20 panels of photographs, documents and text. It is being presented in conjunction with Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Commemoration Day, which will be observed on Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. at the State Capitol. The ceremony will feature Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert - Aristides de Sousa Mendes's grandson - Aristides Mendes, and Sousa Mendes visa recipients Dr. Lissy Jarvik and Dr. Daniel C. Mattis. Both Mendes and Mattis are Utah residents.
"Sousa Mendes illustrates the importance of individual action, how one person can, indeed, make a difference in our complex world," said Martin Gelman, president of the United Jewish Federation of Utah.
For over 50 years, the Jewish Federation of Utah has worked to build and sustain a vibrant Jewish community that cares for those in need, deepens engagement in community and Jewish life and strengthens bonds among Jews in Utah, Israel and around the world. The Sousa Mendes Foundation has a two-fold mission: raising money to build a museum in honor of Sousa Mendes in his home country of Portugal and supporting US-based projects that honor his memory.