The Consul of Bordeaux (2011) - full transcript

This is the story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a man who issued 30,000 visas for safe passage to Portugal during WWII, in June 1940, defying the direct orders of his government. Among them were 10,000 Jews.

I'll see you tomorrow
on the big day.


- How was your journey?
- Good, thank you.

I'll take you to the Maestro.

the journalist from Lisbon is here.

- Is our meeting today?
- Yes, Maestro.

Please, have a seat.

- Thank you for agreeing to see me.
- Thank you for coming.

I couldn't pass up this opportunity.

- What's your name?
- Pardon me. Alexandra Schmidt.

- Is there a problem?
- No, of course not.

Francisco de Almeida.
It's nice to meet you.

- Have you been here before?
- No, I haven't.

Isn't it beautiful? This is
where I attended my first concert.

Just picture it. This is where
I decided to become a conductor.

I did not want to depart this world
without revisiting this place.

It was an honour to conduct
the school of music's orchestra.

- Have we started the interview?
- No, not yet.

I have a proposal for you.

Shall we continue
this interview over dinner?

In a restaurant?

Yes, there is a place
I would like to visit once more.

And it would be lovely
to be accompanied by a beautiful lady.

The roast goat here is magnificent.

I will follow your lead, Maestro.

We'll have the roast goat, please.

- Can we start?
- We can.

Your real name isn't Francisco
de Almeida, but Aaron Apelman.

How do you know that?

It says so in here.

That's an old interview.
I'm surprised you've found it.

I was surprised, too.

Why isn't your real name
in your biography?

It's a long story.
Your editors won't be interested.

But I am.
I'm very interested.

I was born as Aaron Apelman.

In Poland.

In 1926.

I had an older sister, Esther.

She was born in 1924.

My mum, Olga,
was a housewife.

My dad, Samuel Apelman,
was a diamond cutter.

He was an active member of the union.

We were living near Antwerp.

We led a quiet life.

I was 14 when the Nazis
occupied Belgium and we had to flee.

Remember your medicines.

- Do you have the money?
- Yes, Mum.

When you get to Bordeaux,
go to this address and wait for us there.


Be brave.
Come on. Go now.

Please, save my son.

His documentation.

The voyage was long and dangerous!
Tension was everywhere!

Many ships were attacked
by the German airforce

and others were sunk
by their submarines!

Poor kids.

What do you want?

- Are the Vashems there?
- They left yesterday.

- They left? Where did they go?
- How should I know?

Don't you dare knock again.

What do we do now, Esther?

I don't know.

- I don't know.
- It will be okay.

- Who wanted to phone Antwerp?
- That was us.

- There's no answer.
- Can you try again?

There's no answer.
Who's next?

- Where is the bag?
- What bag?

Hold him.


- Have you had enough?
- It was lovely.

- So your sister disappeared?
- Yes, she did.

No one had seen her.
It was as if she had never existed.

- What did you do then?
- I did what my mother had taught me.

Keep on going.

I put my faith in God
and kept on going.

Come here.

- Good morning.
- Good morning, sir.

Is he your brother?
He must be hungry.


- Aren't your parents here?
- No, they stayed in Belgium.

- Don't you have anyone else?
- No, I lost my sister.

Is Rabbi Kruger here?

That's me.
Come with me.

Could you mind the baby for a while?

Take care of this bag.

Tell me what happened to you.

Come in.

- May I come in?
- Hello, Rabbi Kruger. Have a seat.

Is this your son?

God has not blessed me in that way.

This boy is a refugee, like me.
A victim of this cruel war.

We all are, in one way or another.

I've had to send
my wife and children to Lisbon.

I have 14.
- 14 children?

I miss them all.
Only the two eldest have remained here.

With all due respect, Mr Consul...

in this war some people
are suffering more than others.

In the synagogue you can see
how people have to live.

Every day there are more.
I have run out of space.

Even the courtyard is full.

I really don't know how I could help

By issuing these people with visas.

Impossible. I can't disregard
my own government's instructions.

I sometimes make exceptions,
but only on humanitarian grounds.

And where does your humanity
start and end, sir?

This is Aaron Apelman.
You need to hear his story.

He lost his sister and his money.
And he still looks after his little brother, alone.

The war presents us
with great challenges.

Will all of us be ready for them?

I'm sorry, but I can't act against
the instructions of my own government.

Come with me, Aaron.

This is my wife, Sarah.

- What's your brother's name?
- Moshe, but he's not my brother.

Moshe must be hungry.
Could you look after him?

Hi Moshe.
You're gorgeous, aren't you?

How about you?
Are you hungry?

After some food and a rest,
you're going to tell me who this baby is.

Tomorrow we'll start
looking for your sister.

- Excuse me, Mr Consul.
- What is it, Seabra?

Please forgive my indiscretion,
but what did the Rabbi want?

Can't you guess?

- And you haven't...
- No, I haven't.

- Because in Circular 14...
- I am aware of what it says.

I just don't know
how to explain it to these people.

- Where are you going?
- To find my sister.

The doors of the synagogue are locked
to protect these people.

- There are many people waiting outside.
- Exactly.

Come with me.

What do we do with these people?
There are so many of them.

Since the day Moses parted
the Red Sea, we have nothing to fear.

What's that, my son?

My mum says that to encourage us.

Since the day
Moses parted the Red Sea...

we have nothing to fear.

Your mother is right.

I'm looking forward to meet her.
Let's go.

Wake up. Don't stay out here.
Come into the synagogue.

I'll help.

I'll help with this.

Come on girls.
Come into the synagogue.

I'll open the doors.

Follow me.

Come in.


- Have you done the shopping?
- There's not much to buy.

I see what's happening.
The merchants are rationing their ware.

- Any word on my sister?
- Not yet.

I've looked everywhere.
In hospitals, the police...

- She has to be somewhere.
- We'll find her. Don't worry.

Do you really believe we'll find her?

Have you asked
at the Portuguese consulate?

They couldn't even hear me.
It's chaos in there.

One moment please.

It's so busy.
You have no idea what it's like outside.

I'm afraid I do.

- Are you looking for the Consul?
- Is he not here?

- He's at home.
- At this time of day?

His behaviour worries us all.

He's been in his room for three days.
He won't come out.

What about his children?

If I didn't know better, I would think
he wants to escape this chaos.

That's not like him at all.

May I ask you for a favour?

Would you visit him?
That might cheer him up.

- That doesn't seem appropriate.
- We'll think of a good reason.


- Mr Seabra is here to see you.
- I don't want to see anyone.

Mrs Cibal is here too.

A André.

She has an urgent message for you.

Have them wait in the lounge.
I'll be out in a minute.

Father will be here in a minute.

- Mrs Cibal.
- Mr Consul.

Mr Consul.

I've just come from Paris.
The government is in chaos.

It's all gossip and political games.

- What an absurd situation.
- It is indeed.

I'm sorry, but I have a lot of work to do.
I have to go.

Of course, Seabra.

Miss Andreia, Miss Clotilde.
Excuse me.

- Shall I prepare some food?
- No, thank you. I'm not hungry.

Excuse me.

Apologies for dropping in on you like

You never answered my letters.

I need to tell you something in

But first, what's wrong?

Your embassy is a mess
and you're at home.

I'm in retreat,
contemplating my options.

- I'm looking for guidance.
- Guidance?

I need to know what to do.
It's hard to know right from wrong.

Every day, hundreds of Jews
ask for visas and I can't issue them.

So much drama...

So much suffering...

You shouldn't carry that burden alone.
There's nothing you can do.

That's what I want to find out,
but even the Bible has no answer.

What does your conscience say?

I've made you some sandwiches.

Don't eat too fast.
You're still weak.

- Would you like some?
- No, thank you.

You haven't told me why you're here.

I thought you had
something important to say.

Not as important
as the decision you need to make.

Don't worry about me.
Salazar will understand my decision.

No, thank you.
You have it.

- Aaron.
- Yes?

- Do you have news about my sister?
- No, Aaron. Where is the Rabbi?

I'll take you to him.

Rabbi, look who's here.

Welcome, Mr Consul. Please excuse
the inappropriate reception.

To what do we owe this honour?

Do you and your wife have passports?

I propose that you and your wife
move in with me while I issue your visas.


There is an empty apartment
in the consulate.

I'm afraid I must decline your offer.

- I did not ask you for hospitality.
- I know.

I did not ask for visas for my family.
Everyone here needs one.

These poor souls have lost everything.

Whole families have been ripped apart.

Someone must help them.
I can't accept preferential treatment.

I'm not giving you that.

- Are you saying...
- I've thought long and hard about this.

I know what I need to do.

Were you there when Aristides de Sousa
Mendes made that decision?

Yes. I was a 14 year-old boy
who had no idea...

that his life was in the hands
of this friendly and important man.

- Had you heard of him before?
- Yes, but never in the first person.

A hero. He was a hero.
Did you know that?

Look. This is my visa.

One of the 30.000 visas
he issued in June 1940.

The Consul can't see anyone right now.

Excuse me.

Rabbi Kruger, just a moment.

Amorim, come here.

Follow me.

Be patient, people.

- Are those all...
- Yes.

That's impossible.
The Consul has many open cases.

The Allies's army hurries
to abandon the port of Dunquerque,

as they are under Luftwaffe's and the
German artillery's fire.

They just occupied Calais.

The seafront is doing miracles
and the land front heroically resists

the enemy's armored cars advance.

Over 80.000 people were already rescued
and they are heading to England.

The French air force and the RAF

were able to fight the German air force
and shot down several airplanes.

They're turning a defeat
into a heroic poem.

- We have a difficult time ahead of us.
- There's no time to lose.

These are today's passports.

I'll bring you more tomorrow.

Have a seat, Rabbi.

Pardon me, Mr Consul.
Have you not read the new decree?

- Regarding Poles?
- Indeed.

Why should we refuse
to issue visas to Poles?

Because most are Jewish
and we can't issue visas to Jews.

- It's against the constitution.
- We're not a racist country.

And neither is our constitution.

These decisions were made hastily.

Salazar signed it.

He can't think of everything.
They must have misinformed him.

- I wish I could speak to him.
- What will we do?

We'll ignore it like all other decrees
and work faster.

They've forced the door.
It won't close anymore.

- Phone the police.
- Wait a minute, Seabra.

I am in charge here.

I will speak to them.

Calm down, people.
Please wait calmly.

- We've waited long enough.
- Please be patient.

- All who qualify will get a visa.
- When? The Germans are coming.

- Please, listen to the Consul.
- Enough talking. We want visas.

Listen to the Consul,
he has something to say.

Friends, Portugal has a long history
of hospitality.

We will take our responsibility.

We will not confuse
neutrality with indifference.

All of you will receive a visa.
No one will be missed.

Tomorrow we open the doors
at nine - no, eight o'clock.

I repeat, no one will be missed.

- Will you help me?
- I'd love to.

Bring your wife and friends to my

We will need all the help we can get.

- Are you ready?
- Not yet.

Your parents and sister
will be proud when I tell them.

- Do you think I'll see them again?
- Of course. Don't worry.

- This is for you.
- Glasses?

No, it's a heritage from our ancestors.

- From Poland?
- No, older than that.

- From the time they fled Portugal.
- What are the keys for?

No one knows.
But now they are yours.

They bring our family luck.
And you'll need some luck.

But then you won't have luck anymore.

It's only for a while.
We'll soon meet again.

Did you ever find the house
that belonged with the key?

No, I didn't.

We were in Portugal
for a short time only.

My father was from here,
from Viana do Castelo.

He had a business in Venezuela,
so when the war came, we went there.

- I never returned.
- Did you not look for your family?

Of course. I did not rest until I knew
what had happened to them.

My parents died in Camp Buchenwald.

My sister...

My sister...

was murdered in Bordeaux
the day she disappeared.

I found that out many years later.

At the time I wanted to forget all
about it.

Europe, my roots, my past...
I wanted to forget everything.

Aaron Apelman disappeared
and Francisco de Almeida was born.

But a lot happened before that.

- Come in, please.
- Excuse me.

- My life changed again.
- Follow me.

We and some other families
moved in with the Consul.

Make yourselves at home.

We followed
the developments of the war...

and I was introduced
to the passion of my life.


Do you play, Aaron?

- I'm sorry.
- It's fine. Do you play or not?

- No, but I would love to.
- Clotilde would love to teach you.

I used to be quite good,
but you have to practise a lot.

These days I only practise my

Let's go to sleep.

Tomorrow you can ask Clotilde
to teach you. Okay?

Good. Let's go.

Close the fallboard.

It will be in Bordeaux that, today,

the government, transferred from Tours,
will settle.

It's the third time in less than a century that
Bordeaux becomes the capital of France.

So now we're in the capital of France.

I should be Ambassador
instead of Consul.

Then we wouldn't
have to run this marathon.

Come in.

- May I come in?
- Come in, Amorim.

The visa registers are full.
We weren't counting on these numbers.

Use other registers.
The marriage registers.

No one is getting married now.

- This is illegal.
- We do what we can.

All of this is highly irregular.

- What do you mean?
- All that's going on.

All these visas, the chaos outside,
our working hours.

Do you have a problem
with the work or with Jews?

It's not just me.
Everyone is tired.

Enough. Don't bother the Consul
with your nonsense.

- Amorim could become a problem.
- Who, Amorim?

Amorim is allergic to thinking.

Even so...

The best of luck.

Those two were Czech,
weren't they?


You're taking too many risks,

They were officers in a defeated army,
citizens of a country that doesn't exist.

- Where else could they go?
- To a prison camp...

where they could have waited
for the war to end.

Don't you have any ice?

People are dying
and you're worried about ice.

I'm worried about you and your family.

How long have we been friends?

Your activities will end
your diplomatic career.

What will you do
when you get back to Lisbon?

- I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
- Don't let your heart blind you.

- I'm convinced this is right.
- We're diplomats, not missionaries.

We're the only ones
who can save some souls from this hell.

Souls? God does not seem to worry
about our souls these days.

Maybe it's us who have forgotten him.

- You must be tired from listening.
- Not at all. I'm staying all evening.

But I am tired.

is a long and unique day for me.

Of course. I'm sorry.
How inconsiderate of me.

Do you think
I don't enjoy talking about all this?

- Where are you staying?
- At the Santa Luzia.

- Good choice.
- Yes, the view is beautiful.

Shall we meet there tomorrow?

I was last here 68 years ago
with my adoptive mum.

She was a Catholic.

She made me promise
to return here before I die...

to give thanks for the many blessings
I have received.

And she was right,
even though I didn't realise it at the time.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

But you've lost your family,
your country and your roots.

I have a new and wonderful family,
a new country and music.


And friends, success and health.

And my many passions.
I can't complain.

I have something to show you.

- I mentioned this yesterday.
- Yes, I remember.

To me this key represents the future.

Whenever I was frightened...

I used to imagine opening a door...

to a beautiful place.

When I die, all those little bits
of superstition will die too.

Not necessarily.

...whatever the cost may be.

We shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,

we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,

we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender,

and if, which I do not for a moment believe,

this island or a large part of it
were subjugated and starving,

then our Empire beyond the seas,
armed and guarded by the British Fleet,

would carry on...

Churchill is wrong.
They can't win on their own.

The English have fought alone before.

- And the sea is on their side.
- Don't be silly. Those 30 kilometres?

England needs help.

What do you think, Mr Consul?

Churchill has enough friends
this side of the Channel.

Until the Germans
discover and crush them.

- Where is your faith, Rabbi?
- Where it should be, with God.

I'm afraid I've lost faith in mankind.

What do you think, father?

This is not a time for such discussions.
We have work to do.

We have our own battle to fight.
And we're going to win.

I'm issuing visas to all who ask.
Everyone will get a visa...

irrespective of nationality, religion,
race of personal circumstances.

Yes. No one will be discriminated.

Where are the rubber stamps?

Here they are.

Aaron, you stamp the passports
and I sign them. Okay?


- Rabbi, you too.
- Of course.

- That's the stamp for emoluments.
- That's right, Seabra.

At least you follow Fichte's principles.

Even chaos requires order.

Pedro Nuno, could you get
the washing basket from the house?

Did you sign this?

- It's expired.
- Man only expires upon death.

Oh, my God.

You've done it.
Very good, Seabra.

What have I done?

You said 'Oh my God'.
We all heard it.

- It's just an expression.
- It was an evocation.

God watches over us.

And just like Saint Augustine,
I'd rather stand with Him against man...

than with man against Him.

Father, Rabbi Kruger stayed
at the synagogue. It's chaos there.

- But I've come to replace him.
- Unfortunately no one can replace me.

Have a break. We can't register
all the visas this fast anyway.

This war knows no breaks,
truces or losers.

- Don't waste paper.
- We're already skipping the seals.

We'll have to cut more corners.

Hello? Good day.
How are you?

The Vice-Consul of Bayonne.

Yes, of course.

I'll see if he has time.
One moment, please.

He's desperate.
He's awaiting your instructions.

Dear Vieira Braga, how can I help?

Don't worry.

While the Consul is away,
you're in charge.

Circular 14 does not apply here.

I'm taking full responsibility.
Of course.

You're acting under my orders.

You must understand this is not
your boss speaking, but humanity.

Don't worry,
I'll send you a written confirmation.

Issue as many visas as possible.
We are the government here.

Good, it's me giving you
those orders. Absolutely.


- Vieira Braga is going to cause trouble.
- You only see the bad in people.

Unfortunately I'm usually right.

- What is it, Amorim?
- I'm handing in my resignation.

Keep the letter.
I won't take it right now.

When this phase is over,
I'll be happy to accept it.

You must take it now.
I refuse to take part in this.

Take part in what?


Circular 14 is clear about visas for Jews.

Circular 14 is a lamentable mistake
which we are trying to correct.

Good night.

When I had time, I went
to the synagogue to look for my family.

Do you know Esther Apelman?

Or someone who had news.
Good or bad.

Mr Consul.

- What is it?
- They're stealing passports.

- Are you a thief now?
- Salazar will forgive me.

Let me through, Sousa Mendes.

I can't.

You know I'm right.

Even if you're right,
are you prepared to die for it?

I am.

You've crossed the line
and you will pay for it.

Be quiet.
Put the passports back.

Chaim Silverstein.

Joseph Cohen.

- Mr Consul.
- Not now, Aaron. Later.

I've brought you some milk.

Look what you've done.
Everything is wet.

It's okay, father.

Shall I tell the owner of this passport
that we had a picnic?

It's soaking wet.

- What a mess.
- Don't worry about it.

- Try to see the glass as half full.
- This one is definitely empty.

- Please forgive me.
- It was an accident.

I know.
Please don't take offence.

When this is behind us,
we'll throw a big party in Lisbon.

And you can dance with my daughters.
One of them is your age.

No, I want to stay in Bordeaux.

- You know you can't.
- I have to find my sister.

We'll leave her a visa in the synagogue.
You will see her in Lisbon.

We can't go anywhere else.


- You are...
- Excuse me?

My baby, Moshe.
Wasn't that you?

You and your sister?

Stay calm. Don't be frightened.
Stay here.

Protect yourselves!

Stay here, it's safer.

- They're fighting in the port.
- The Germans have won already.

It's merely a stay of execution.
We must hurry.

I am assuming the direction of the
government of France as of today.

Sure of the affection of our admirable army,

which is fighting with a heroism worthy of its
long military traditions against an enemy

that is superior in numbers
and in weapons...

Do you know Esther Apelman?

- Do you know...
- Quiet.

Can't you hear the national anthem?

- The Germans respect him.
- Who, Pétain?

- Do you know Esther Apelman?
- Are you still here? Go away.

Come back, thief.

- Did you see that?
- You did ask for it.

I hate the Jews.

If I were Pétain,
it would mean the end of them.


Mr Consul it's the
secretary of Faria Machado.

The situation is very serious...

The Ministery forbids
us to give more visas...

As you know, the Circular
14 does not allow us...

Excuse me.

Rabbi, we're going for a walk.

Seabra, man the fort.

Give me the stamp.
I might need it.

The rubber stamp, Seabra.

Shall we?

So many people.

- These are done. They have visas.
- And those?

- They'll have to wait.
- But there are so many applications.

We can't break the law.

My apologies for walking in like this,
but we're family.

The Consul in Bayonne reports
to the Consul in Bordeaux, right?

- In certain respects. You may go.
- Let me see.

Prince Charles of Habsburg.

Duchess of Parma.
Very good.

Roberto de Rotíssima.
He requires no introduction.

These are all decent people.

You can be proud.
You're saving some big names.

Nobility, rich people.
All of these.

Don't you want to
mix them with the others?

Camilha Prestava.

Does that name ring any bells?
Not for me, either.

Julgues Mester.
The same.

These people are displaced, nameless...

Why do they not deserve
your sympathy? They're waiting outside.

They rely on you, Faria Machado.

- If this were true...
- It is true.

- And you shall give them their visas.
- My orders are not to do that.

- And I follow orders.
- But when it comes to princes...

Be realistic, Sousa Mendes.
We're not God.

Do you have an empty drawer?
A bag? A basket?

What are you going to do?

Compete with you.

I won't participate in this lunacy.
Have you gone mad?

This is sacrilege.

It's sacrilege to let these people die
without doing anything.

We're off, Rabbi. You're coming, too.

He's lost the plot.

We have to do something.

An inquiry will take weeks.
Something has to be done fast.

But what do you suggest Faria Machado?

I don't know.
Shut down the consulate in Bordeaux.

He's making fools of us.


Calm down Faria Machado.

He's issuing visas in the street.

This is unheard of.

You have to come here,
Mr Ambassador.

We will resolve the problem.

Thank you, Mr Ambassador.

Elias Janiper.

Violetta Fisher.

May I help you?

- No, it will harm your career.
- My shift has ended. I can do what I like.

All right then. You stamp
the passports and I sign them.

Abraham Brudovic.

- Esther Apelman.
- Yes.

- Are you Aaron's sister?
- Me?

Yes, I am.

Do you know if he and his family
have crossed the border yet?

Yes, they have.
I spoke to him yesterday.

- Where did you get this passport?
- Let go.

- Answer me. Where is Esther?
- It wasn't my fault.

- Where is she?
- She was murdered by thieves.

You have to believe me.

I bought the passport,
but she was dead already.

I didn't do it.

Listen, Mr Consul.

Clotilde, we have to speak to Aaron.

Aaron is so upset.

Let's go.

- Is everything ready?
- Yes.

Tell them we're ready to go.

Where are you?

- What are you doing?
- Nothing.

Stamp anything, Seabra.
ID papers, sheets of paper, anything.

With my signature anything is valid.

The Spaniards
can cause trouble at the border.

We have to live in hope, Seabra.

In times like these,
we discover the good in people.

Continue, Seabra.

I am about to start
a delicate diplomatic mission.

Mr Ambassador,
I wasn't expecting to see you here.

I'm not here on personal business.

Lopo Simeão is from
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

- Did you receive Salazar's telegram?
- Telegram? Where was it sent?

- To the consulate in Bordeaux.
- I tend to work outdoors these days.

- I can see that.
- I have a copy for you.

I've been relieved of my consular duties.

Mr Simeão will replace you.
You can't issue any more visas.

All visas you sign from today
are illegal and invalid.

Including the visas you signed already.
Circular 14 is very clear.

Your acts subvert the relationship
between Spain and Portugal...

- and other countries.
- Spain only has to let us pass through.

Spain does not want such people.
And neither do we.

No one wants them.

Salazar has ordered
your immediate return to Lisbon.

- All my things are in Bordeaux.
- We'll take you there now.

That's not going to happen.

Please excuse me.

You know what happens
if you disobey Salazar, don't you?

Yes, but I also know
what happens if I obey.

Have a good journey.

- What's the hold-up?
- The roads are in chaos.

- They're closing the border at Irun.
- Right now?

Let's go. There's no time to lose.
We have a long way to go.

I'll go ahead to see what's the matter.

We can't go back.
Let us through.

- Can I see your commanding officer?
- Come through.

Good day.

- Why are you stopping those people?
- The border is closed temporarily.

- There is a problem with the passports.
- Like what?

Apparently the visas are invalid.
I'm awaiting orders from Madrid.

I am the Portuguese Consul. You have
my word that these visas are valid.

- Is this your signature?
- Look here. Aristides de Sousa Mendes.

- How do I know you're the Consul?
- Please phone General Franco.

We are good friends.

- I can phone him if you prefer.
- Don Aristides. I did not know...

- Now you remember.
- Yes, of course.

Get the passports. Those signed
by Sousa Mendes are free to pass.

Yes, sir.

May I wait here
until everyone has crossed the border?

Of course, Don Aristides.
Have a seat. You're a guest.

Thank you.

The passports.

- Let these people through.
- Help me.

We're going. Quick.

Lower the barrier.

The border is closed.

- What is going on?
- Don Aristides, Franco's friend.

- Why are you closing the border?
- I have to refuse visas signed by you.

- But earlier...
- You lied to me.

And I fell for it.
You're lucky I'm not arresting you.

I'd like to see that.

Go, Don Aristides. And take your
friends. No one crosses here.

- What happened, Aristides?
- My signature...

I wanted to save them, but now
my signature is keeping them here.

Stay calm, Aristides.

- We will find a solution.
- A solution?

There are no more solutions.
It was all for nothing.

Since the day Moses parted
the Red Sea, we have nothing to fear.

Moses had a powerful ally,
but He has forgotten us.

Don't say that.
These people need you.

- I need you.
- What can I do?

Mr Consul. The border crossing
at Alvelos has no telephone.

If you get there before dark,
you may be able to cross.


- An airplane.
- Germans. They're coming.

We must hurry.
Come on, let's go faster.

- Do you think he saw us?
- No, the trees provide cover.

- Is it far?
- A few kilometres.

Don't be frightened.
It will all be fine.

Look down there.

The Germans arrived.

We have very little time.

- They haven't seen us.
- We have no time to lose.

What do you want?
The border is closed.

Good evening.

I am Aristides de Sousa Mendes,
Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux.

- You've been told I was coming.
- How? We have no telephone.

I didn't know.

I am travelling with some friends.
We want to go to Portugal.

- These are your friends?
- Yes, they are.

And we need all the friends we can find.

- Are you really the Consul?
- Like I said.

- Do your friends have passports?
- Yes, and I issued their visas.

In that case...

I'll take a look at those passports.

Have your passports ready.
He's letting us through.

Thank you.



Come on.

Thank you very much.

- I'm going to the Consul.
- Aaron.

Come on, come on.

You have many friends.

Thank the Lord.
I hope to make more friends.

It's time to say goodbye.
I have to return to Bordeaux.

- When will I see you again?
- I'll be in Lisbon in a few days.

- We will never forget you.
- The worst is over.

- Is Aaron not with you?
- I haven't seen him.

Where is he?

He has probably
crossed the border already.

- What if he's still here?
- Don't worry. I'm still here.

Go now.

Everyone has crossed.

- Have you seen a boy?
- No. Nobody.

Thank you.

- What a relief.
- What are you doing here?

- Where are we?
- In France.

Everyone has crossed the border.

- Now what?
- I don't want to go.

- I want to stay with you.
- You can't.

If the Germans find you,
I can't help you.

- I don't care. My sister...
- She is dead.

She's dead, Aaron.
Why can't you accept that?

Let's go back quickly.

- Mr Consul.
- The boy had lost the others.

There's no need to lie. I appreciate
how you're helping these people.

- But...
- Mr Consul...

What is happening is dreadful.

A terrible thing
has happened in our country.

I've been posted here
because I disagree with certain things.

I am certain your motives are good.

Thank you...


Good evening.
Could you take this boy with you?

Take him with us?

- I don't know.
- Please, it's a desperate situation.

I am Aristides de Sousa Mendes,
Consul in Bordeaux.

I beg you. Phone me later
at the consulate. I'll explain everything.

We are all desperate.

Get in, boy.

You have my eternal gratitude.

Thank you.

Come, Aaron.

Don't be afraid.

I'll see you again in Lisbon.

I lost my family in one country,
and found a new one in another.

The Consul found
a family to look after me.

The funny thing is that this
childless couple ended up adopting me.

They took me to Caracas.

I am who I am today because of them...

and Sousa Mendes
was the reason our paths crossed.

That's how it happened.

Alexandra, do you think your editors
are interested in this melodrama?


I haven't been
completely honest with you.

- Why?
- May I see your key?

Yes, of course.

The other key.

Alexandra, where did you get this key?

Come with me, Maestro.


This is the maestro.
Aaron Apelman.

Maestro, this is my grandmother,
Esther Apelman.


I searched high and low for you.
I thought you were dead.

I nearly was.
I was robbed in an alley in Bordeaux.

They took my bag and left me for dead.

I was in a coma for three months.

When I woke up,
the Germans had occupied the city.

I had to adopt a new identity
to avoid being arrested.

I could only leave Bordeaux
after the war. I went to Lisbon.

I searched everywhere for you.

But there was
no trace of Aaron Apelman.

My whole life I suffered so much.

The thought that you might be alive,
but that I couldn't find you.

You've found me now.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes was born in
Cabanas de Viriato, Carregal do Sal.

Removed by Salazar from diplomatic
affairs, he dies in misery on April 3rd, 1954.

In 1967, Yad Vashem gives him his greatest
award, a medal with the following inscription:

"Whoever saves one life,
saves the world entire."

In 1988, the Portuguese Parliament
approved, by unanimous decision,

the rehabilitation of Aristides de Sousa
Mendes and in 1998

the European Parliament paid him a tribute,
"Righteous Among the Nations."