The Moed Family had a home in Antwerp, Belgium . David Moed was at the helm of his successful architectural practice in Antwerp for 14 years prior to the start of WWII. In the spring of 1940 he was called up by the Belgian Army to serve his county. Panic and confusion reigned across Europe, and roads were already jammed with refugees fleeing southwestward toward the Pyrenees. The horrors of the Holocaust were beginning to be known throughout Europe and the family knew they had one option upon when the German Army attacked Antwerp: Run. The Moed’s joined hundreds of thousands of refugees including fellow-Belgians, Dutch, Poles, and Jews, a straggling mass of humanity with only one aim: to keep moving, away from the Germans. Through David Moed’s resourcefulness the family navigated their way through what became known as “le peuple du desastre” (“the people of the disaster”); hundreds of miles of roads crammed with stateless persons.
Eventually David Moed, along with his wife Shifra and children Leon (Aged 8), Peniel (Aged 5) and Pnina (Aged 2), managed to travel through Belgium, France, and Spain, eventually escaping to Portugal: The Gateway out of Europe. All were granted visas, the entire family saved through the generosity of Aristides De Sousa Mendes. The family of five travelled on one of the last ships accepted into port in the US, a Greek cruise ship called the Nea Hellas.
I am Leon Moed‘s grandson. My grandfather Leon is an architect. My great-grandfather David Moed was an architect, and I Eric Moed, am on the road to becoming an architect. Simply put, I would not be here without the generosity and sacrifices of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. While a big part of this project is to erect the physical architecture of the Casa do Passal Museum, an equally important goal is to recount my families story: a product of the actions of Mr. Sousa Mendes.
One person has made an incalculable difference. As a beneficiary of those acts my family must make a measured effort to ensure that this altruistic hero is celebrated by simultaneously telling our story and building his legacy.