Emile Gissot

Portuguese consul Emile Gissot

I somehow overlooked a very interesting comment on the blog from early in January. A staffer at the Aristedes de Sousa Mendes Foundation had seen our Ringel escape route postings and wanted to know if the signature on the Portuguese visa in Elly's passport matched any of several other names besides Sousa Mendes. On her list was the name of Emile Gissot, and indeed as you can see from the closeup here, that's who signed off on granting a transit visa to Portugal to our family members in Toulouse on July 11, 1940.

Gissot's role in the Sousa Mendes affair

In 1940, Emile Gissot was 58 years old, probably retired from government foreign service and living again in his home city of Toulouse. To supplement his income and keep his hand in the game, he takes a position as honorary vice-consul in Toulouse for the government of Portugal. It is not unusual for foreign governments to staff consulate offices with non-national local citizens. That is why his title was "honorary." The reason it was "vice-consul" was because he did not have full consular responsibilities but reported to a regional chief consul stationed 130 miles away in Bordeaux.

Gissot was charged with trafficking visas

Walter and I began our investigation into our mother's refugee journey with the idea that the Ringel family made it over the many border crossings with liberal use of bribes paid under the table to corrupt officials. "Things could be arranged by greasing the right palms," Helga told Walter in the oral history she gave in 2004.

Translation of Gissot "Irregularities" file

This is my Google Translate-enabled rough translation of the Gissot file. In several places, I made guesses as to the meaning of the text. In other areas, especially regarding the commercial contracts, I could not make a guess as to the meaning and left ambiguous text.

Ministry Of Foreign Affairs
Directorate general of economic and consular affairs

Irregularities of the vice-consul and manager of the Consulate in Toulouse, Mr. Gissot

INFORMATION

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