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