NEWSLETTER Nš5 . MAY 2020
INTRODUCTION

Dear Reader,

When we first started to issue newsletters they were planned to come out every quarter. Some of our more observant members may have noted, however, that it is little more than a month since the last one came out. In these difficult times we thought that members may appreciate an additional “Special” issue to read while confined to their homes.

 

The theme of this issue is “Refugees”. One of our two main articles was first published in the 2004 Annual Report and tells the fascinating story of Victor Reynolds of Quinta do Carmo. Reynolds collaborated with the British Embassy in moving escaped British prisoners of war from the Spanish border near Elvas to Lisbon, and later from Esperança, near Marvão, from where they could rejoin their units. Not only the British were helped: Reynolds was to receive awards from the Belgian and Polish governments after the war.

 

The other article, written for this newsletter, looks at the broader picture of Portugal’s treatment of refugees, particularly Jews, before and during the Second World War. Many Portuguese consuls defied instructions from Lisbon and gave visas to escaping Jews. Once in Portugal, the refugees were generally well-received by the population, while they were waiting to get visas and tickets to move on, mainly to the USA. The Jews and refugees transiting Portugal at that time left their mark on the country´s history. Many failed to secure passage to the US and stayed in Portugal, adopting Portuguese names, often a literal translation of their name into Portuguese.

 

The Newsletter also points you to a couple of interesting films by RTP about Jewish refugees in Portugal and the role of one particular consul, Aristides de Sousa Mendes. We also discuss the Exiles Memorial Centre (Espaço Memória dos Exílios) in Estoril, which houses the memories of exiles or refugees from the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War who stayed in the Estoril/Cascais area. We hope you will visit it when circumstances permit.

 

Finally, I am happy to report that we have now finished uploading all articles from our first 45 annual reports onto the website. It is amazing how many interesting articles we have published over the years and these are now all available with a click of your mouse. Many thanks to those who have worked so hard to make this possible.

 

Edward Godfrey, Chairman

 

 

NEWS see more News here

APRIL 23, 2020

Photos from 70 years ago

A selection of photos from Lisbon in the mid-1900s

READ MORE

APRIL 23, 2020

Vilar Formoso - Fronteira da Paz

Videos on refugees

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ARTICLES see more Articles here

Saving one life: saving the world

Author: N.L. Taylor

Report:

Page: 0

Year: 2020

Subject Matter: WW2

READ MORE

Victor Reynolds: Our Man in Estremoz

Author: Alberto Franco (trans Janet Reynolds)

Report:

Page: 13

Year: 2004

Subject Matter: World War Two

READ MORE

Did you know?

The Exiles Memorial Centre (Espaço Memória dos Exílios) was inaugurated in February 1999 and is situated above the Post Office in Estoril, at Av. Marginal 7152. Coordinated by Maria Inês Brandão, the mission of this Centre is to house the memories of exiles or of refugees from the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War who came to the Estoril/Cascais area. Thousands of people spent a few weeks or months in a beautiful part of a country that was not at war, while waiting for a visa and a plane or ship to their final destination. Some were to stay much longer and, in time, make major contributions to Portuguese society.

 

At the ‘Exiles in Exile’ Memorial Centre - to use the expression coined by one of the Friends of the Centre – emphasis is placed on trying to identify the names and to research the stories of all the refugees including many Jews who came to Estoril/Cascais, having been among those to receive entry visas from the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, during the short period of May and June 1940. From an initial list of 29 names, the Centre has now identified almost 200 people - men, women and children - who found in Estoril/Cascais a moment of hope during their traumatic escape, having received life-saving visas from a man who would pay dearly for his act of civil disobedience but who received many posthumous awards, including Israel’s “Righteous Among the Nations”. In a Portuguese television show in 2007 he was voted third in a competition to select Os Grandes Portugueses.

 

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. More can be learned about the arrival of refugees in Portugal, and the role of Aristides de Sousa Mendes in ensuring visas for refugees fleeing to Portugal from France, in the RTP documentary, Vilar Formoso, Fronteira da Paz.

Every Quarter the BHSP Newsletter will share a fact of historic or cultural interest related to Britain or Portugal. If you know of any such a fact or facts related to Anglo Portuguese relations, please send the information in good time to the BHSP Librarian at library@bhsportugal.org

Appeal to families

BHSP member Primrose Ridley-Thomas has kindly donated books of W. F Napier’s series The History of the War in the Peninsula and in the South of France, together with the Private Journal of F. S. Larpent. She has also promised the BHSP library for safe-keeping and consultation a box of letters sent to her father, Victor Reynolds (see the article in this Newsletter) from refugees and escaped prisoners-of-war, together with six of his diaries, which include coded inserts. This promises to offer fruitful material for future research into refugees in Portugal.

 

When sorting through your attics and/or cupboards, you might across letters or diaries or articles or postcards or stamps that you think would be of interest to the BHSP and its Members. Please contact our Librarian to discuss the matter further on library@bhsportugal.org. All objects handed over to the BHSP Library will be logged either for further reference by researchers, for recovery at a later date or to be listed as a permanent donation (with the relevant documents) to the BHSP.

 

Quiz

How many planes belonging to WW2 belligerents crashed or were deliberately landed here during WW2?

The answer to the quiz and more information can be found at the bottom of the Members' News section.

50 Years Ago

Just over 50 years ago a renowned Portuguese exile was finally allowed to return  to his home country. Dom. António Ferreia Gomes was Bishop of Oporto from 1952 to 1982 and is considered to have been one of the most notable figures of the Portuguese Catholic hierarchy in the 20th century. He was forced into a 10-year exile from Portugal, living in Spain, France and Germany, due to his opposition to the regime of António Oliveira Salazar. He was a strong believer in the separation of Church and State, a view very contrary to the actual close relationship between Church and State during the years of the Estado Novo. Cardinal Cerejeira, Patriarch of Lisbon from 1929 to 1971, was a close friend of Salazar and endorsed many of the policies of the Estado Novo.

 

Dom António was widely sympathetic to General Humberto Delgado, the Democratic Opposition candidate at the 1958 presidential elections, who was also a Catholic and a former supporter of the Estado Novo. Dom António was unable to vote in those elections, as he was out of the country. Therefore, he decided to write a letter to the Portuguese prime minister, on 13 July 1958, one month after the presidential elections.

 

The letter, which was meant to be private, acknowledged his former admiration for Salazar and some of his policies in the first years of his regime, but ultimately criticized his social policies, saying that they were promoting poverty and social inequality and were against some of the basic tenets recognized in Catholic social doctrine, such as the right to political association. He argued that instead of fighting Communism, Salazar’s reactionary politics were promoting it, since they gave reason to many to support the fair demands of the Communists. He suggested that the regime should begin political reforms, which would eventually lead to true democracy in Portugal, which was in line with the Catholic Church's social doctrine. The letter asked for a private meeting between Gomes and Salazar to debate these issues.

 

Salazar was outraged by this letter, since it broke from the traditional practice of the Portuguese Catholic Church hierarchy being a mere tool of the regime. He refused to answer it, but was unable to act against the bishop as he had not committed any crime within Portuguese law. He therefore decided to act more cynically: when the bishop was returning to Portugal in 1959 after a trip to Italy, he was denied entrance into Portugal, despite being a Portuguese national. Salazar tried several times to force Gomes to resign, but he repeatedly refused. In a letter to António de Faria, the Portuguese ambassador at the Vatican in 1962, Salazar called Dom António "a sick person and the greatest evil was having made him a bishop". He was still refused entry to Portugal when his mother died, meaning that he could not attend the funeral service. His exile abroad would last until the new Prime Minister, Marcello Caetano, under pressure from more moderate politicians and clergy, permitted his return in 1969.

 

Every Quarter you will find in your BHSP Newsletter a selection of key events that happened 50 years ago or more. If you know of upcoming anniversaries related to Anglo-Portuguese relations, please contact us through the BHSP Librarian at library@bhsportugal.org

Members' News

It is with much regret that we announce the death of Robin Rankine on 18th February. Robin was a long-standing member of the Society and regularly attended our events along with his wife, Virginie, who passed away last June. He was for many years a well-known solicitor in Lisbon and assisted many members of the British Community in business and personal matters.

 

We send our condolences to his family.

 

________________

 

 

 

We are pleased to advise that all articles from the past 45 BHSP Annual Reports and from earlier reports of the Historical Association have now been uploaded to the web site.

 

 

Why not take the opportunity provided by the lockdown to explore the 400 or so interesting articles that are now available. Please go to:

https://www.bhsportugal.org/library/articles

 

 

Many thanks to our members, Dani Monteiro, Jackie Kennard and Andrew Shepherd for all the hard work put in to achieve this.

 

________________

 

Answer to Quiz: The first plane of a belligerent country to land in Portugal during the war was flown by a French pilot who fled France after the surrender was announced. Other French and Belgians followed. Later on, planes to crash or land in Portugal included those of the Luftwaffe and British planes en route to Gibraltar and North Africa. Twelve American fighters landed in Lisbon on one day, 15 January 1943, when they ran out of fuel while heading to Morocco. In all, it is believed that 126 planes landed in Portugal or ditched in Portuguese waters.

 

 

More information on this is available from a fascinating web site called "Portugal 1939-45", compiled by Carlos Guerreiro. It can be found at:

https://www.portugal1939-1945.org/en/home-2/

We would be delighted to hear about items of news from members.  Of special interest is news about books or articles that have been published by members, or visits to historical sites or exhibitions of interest.

 

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Carcavelos, September, 2018

 

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