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Refugees in Portugal during WWII:

The ‘Fronteira da Paz’ museum established in 2019 in the railway station of Vilar Formoso is dedicated to the many refugees who first touched Portuguese soil in this border town. It also looks at the work of the Portuguese consul in Bordeaux, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who was responsible for issuing visas to many of those refugees. The video can be seen by following this link.  An earlier video from 2004 on Sousa Mendes is also available here.


To reach Portugal from France, refugees needed transit visas for Spain. Similar to the Portuguese Consul, Sousa Mendes, these were issued during a limited period of time by the Spanish consul in Bordeaux, Eduardo Propper de Callejón. He was the grandfather of the English actress Helena Bonham Carter and a short video showing her learning more about his work is available here.


One of these refugees was the Belgian playwright Jean-Claude Van Itallie, who tells us that, from the windows of the Pensão Royal in Monte Estoril, ‘wherever I looked, there was the sea’. A brief account of his stay in Monte Estoril in 1940 can found in this film. 


Films from the 1940s

Readers may also be interested in the following links to contemporary newsreel footage from Lisbon:

March of Time -- outtakes -- Refugees in Lisbon

March of Time -- outtakes -- Foreign diplomats at banquets in Portugal

March of Time -- outtakes -- Refugees board ship in Lisbon


Life in Lisbon 70 years ago:

A set of fascinating photographs of Lisbon from about 70 years ago can be seen by clicking here.


The influence of the Portuguese Discoverers on world languages

In the first half of the 16th century the Portuguese Discoverers travelled to far corners of the world and left a legacy of Portuguese words being adopted in other peoples’ languages. Perhaps most examples come from the Indonesian language, as can be seen in this amusing video.

The Japanese call captain "kapitan" after the Portuguese word “capitão”, glass "koppu" after “copo”, bread "pan" after “pão”, and soap "shabon" after “sabão”.  The Portuguese word “caju” became “cashew” in English and the word "fetish" comes from the Portuguese word “fetiche”, as do the words "molasses", "mosquito", and "piranha". Perhaps the most universally adopted Portuguese words are  “banana”, which is as easy to pronounce, and the ubiquitous “coffee” which come from the Portuguese word “café”, which is no longer just beans and drinks, but also the place where it is drunk. 






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