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Trent Nelson  |  The Salt Lake Tribune..This story will document the first Salt Lake City meeting between the direct descendant of a Portuguese nobleman who helped save the lives of thousands of Jews escaping Nazi occupation, and the member of a Jewish family saved by the actions of that nobleman. Ari Mendes, grandchild of Aristide de Sousa-Mendes, will meet Univeristy of Utah physics professor Dany Mattis. The meeting was arranged almost entirely due to chance, through the social networking site Facebook, by Mattis' daughter Olivia. Although not officially allied with Nazi Germany and the Axis Powers, Portugal at the time was ruled by a President Salazar who was privately sympathetic to Hitler. Acting in defiance of Salzar's orders, Aristide de Sousa-Mendes issued in 1940 some 38,000 visas to Jewish families and other "undesirables" escaping Nazi occupation in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Sousa-Mendes was shunned for life as a result of his actions, with his family plunged into poverty and obscurity even after WWII's end. Mattis' family traveled across southern France (then unoccupied) into Spain and finally Lisbon, before again departing for Brazil. Dany and his family took a boat to New York City two years later. Olivia first met Ari on a Facebook page this spring, then decided to arrange the meeting between Ari and her father as a belated Father's Day gift. Her father has long sought a descendent of Aristide de Sousa-Mendes as a way to pay homage to the man who saved his family's life. He will now be able to express that thanks through this meeting with Aris Mendes, grandson of the man who helped save Mattis' family from the Holocaustin Salt Lake City, Saturday, July 3, 2010.
Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune..This story will document the first Salt Lake City meeting between the direct descendant of a Portuguese nobleman who helped save the lives of thousands of Jews escaping Nazi occupation, and the member of a Jewish family saved by the actions of that nobleman. Ari Mendes, grandchild of Aristide de Sousa-Mendes, will meet Univeristy of Utah physics professor Dany Mattis. The meeting was arranged almost entirely due to chance, through the social networking...
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