Chapter 4:

"Will we get Transit Visas?"

In the film Irving said:


     “Through some luck, I got us transit visas through Spain to Portugal.  Then my Dad managed to get us transit visas from Portugal to Mexico. We’ve trekked over 1,000 kilometers and we must keep moving.”

In the film, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Ambassador in France, says:

     "I will obey my conscience and grant these Jews visas. As a Christian I do not have the right to let so many women, children and men die. How can I choose not to help them because of an order that has been issued by the authorities?"

Discussion Starters:

  • Why do you think that Sousa Mendes felt this way? Do you think that many people felt this way? Why or why not?

Dig a little deeper...

  • Contrast the ideologies and responses of Sousa Mendes and Asst Secretary of State Breckinridge Long.

  • Imagine a debate between Aristides de Sousa Mendes and Breckinridge Long. Give 3 arguments for each side of the debate and evaluate the successes/failures of these positions. 

Dig even deeper...

  • What can be learned from the film about how we respond to the refugee crisis today?

  • What are some examples of refugees fleeing for fear of persecution? 


  1. Download a map of Europe.  Indicate the route from Brussels, Belgium to Lisbon, Portugal.