LISBON: EUROPE´S BOTTLENECK #history #lisboa


No seguimento da apresentação do livro War in Shadows of City of light que relata os acontecimentos em Lisboa durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial, reproduzimos excertos de um artigo de William D. Bayles publicado na revista Life de 28 de Abril de 1941, ainda antes dos Estados Unidos terem entrado na guerra.


Once each week, as the ship from New York noses up to the cluttered, smelly quay at Lisbon, its passengers look down upon the stranded foreign colony of Europe´s last free capital. Meeting boats and clippers has become a pastime in this city where everyone except the Portuguese – who don´t count – is waiting to go somewhere else. On the dock are American businessmen, film experts, Red Cross Directors, secretaries of legations, numerous Gestapos agents with saucer faces and badly cut German clothes, and bevy of Japanese who bow back and forth with Japanese on the boat. Behind those with some excuse of business stand the Jewish refugees, head on head by the thousands, evidently come to see what kind of lunatic leaves the U.S. for a place as mad as Europe. In the far background are the patient, threadbare Portuguese, hoping to pick up a few escudos from the strangers who have overrun their pretty little country.



Lisbon is the “bottleneck of freedom”, the tunnel wich both Britain an Germany have seen fit to keep open from Europe to the rest of the world. Here the great tide of refugees has piled up at Europe´s western edge. They fill every room in Lisbon and overflow into the little villages outside.
The cream of refugees, along with important travelers, saty at the Aviz, a gleaming white palace that was once a private home of a Portuguese grandee. They like the Aviz because it is free of Germans.
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The German hangout de luxe is the Palacio Hotel in Estoril, wich also has its quota of rich Jews, Englishmen, Americans waiting to go home and exiled European politicians. It is a big modern resort hotel down the Tagus River from Lisbon, with a barman who mixes the best Manhattan cocktails i have tasted in Europe, and chambermaids paid by various powers.
[…]
The Palacio is filled with Gestapo men, all in civilian clothes but painfully German in their movements. They might as well have worn uniforms because they had just come from a two-week vacation back home nand were bronzed by Alpine sun. The Jews laugh about German stupidity but i think it may be all be part of Himmler´s strategy of terror, for bronzed prussians are much more fearsome than pale ones.
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The Estoril casino is the last great gambling house in Europe still running unrestricted. You can place bets as low as $1 and the house takes only 5$ of the money. You see few portuguese there but almost every other nationality. More than half the gamblers are Jewish and i´m told that several have done so well that they have given up all thought of leaving for America. I don´t know where these refuggees get all their money bu they have it and some are willing to kend it at rates of interest of 30% and better.
The great majority of the refugees are Jews of various degrees of wealth, but Cintra, about 15 miles from Lisbon, contains a group of abou 600 Americans from France. They are ex-soldiers from 1918 who remained in France, married French girls and became French in all but name.
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Portugal´s secret Polícia is supposed to be working with the Gestapo. It tries to get all foreign passports for examinations, but i was warned not to give mine up because they are rarely returned. One evening i went into my hotel bedroom and ran smack into a man snooping among my things. The fellow refused to aswer my questions and dauntered out non-chalantly as if it were part of the job. I learned he was on of the Policia.
The newspaper and propaganda setup in Lisbon is obviously controlled by the Germans. The fronts of the news shops look like those of Berlin or Frankfort, with every important German daily and most of them only a day old. A few shops display fortnight-old copies of London papers, but very few. One day i happened to be satnding in front of one of these shops, reading the headlines of the London Times an Daily Mail, when a German came by. He barged into the shop and angrily asked the proprietor why he displayed English papers. The proprieror meekly went out and took them down.
While i was in Lisbon an order went out to supress 40% of all British news in the Portuguese papers. Up to then the British had beem getting a pretty good break in headlines, but overnight everything swung to the Axis.
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The Portuguese people look upon their hordes of uninvited guests with a kind of sad and timid wonderment. They are much polite and kindkly to protest, but they have been deeply shocked by some of the crass modern intrusions upon their ancient, slumbering culture. The foreign women parade Lisbon´s decorous Rossio in slacks, drink atanding at street bars where none but men stood before, and go out at night alone or without hats, wich in Lisbon is the age-old mark of the prostitute.

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