(JTA) — Portugal’s national airline named its newest plane for Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a diplomat who saved some 30,000 Jews from the Holocaust.
TAP Portugal last week announced the naming of the Airbus A319 for Mendes, who in 1940 served as consul in Bordeaux, France, where he gave visas to refugees fleeing the Nazi advance.
With the honor, the airline said it was seeking to pay homage to Mendes “and his exemplary actions,” TAP Executive Director Luiz da Gama Mor said last week, according to the news website fugas.publico.pt. The plane “will carry his name to many European cities where we operate.”
After his actions in Bordeaux — a city located just 120 miles north of France’s border with Spain and the Iberian Peninsula, Mendes was suspended and ejected from the diplomatic service of Portugal, then a dictatorship under Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.
However, Mendes was posthumously vindicated and recognized as Righteous Among the Nations — a title conferred on behalf of the State of Israel by the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Mendes was the first diplomat to receive the title.