Portugal

Historical Background

Antisemetic exibition in Bordeaux, 1942 Antisemetic exibition in Bordeaux, 1942

As Nazi Germany intensified its anti-Jewish policy, increasing numbers of Jews were driven to flee and to seek ways to emigrate. After the occupation of France in the summer of 1940, foreign consulates were confronted with increasing numbers of people seeking a safe haven and asking for visas. Portugal maintained a policy of neutrality. In 1938 the Portuguese Foreign Ministry issued instructions that settling of Jews in Portugal was forbidden, but that they would be allowed to enter as tourists for a stay of 30 days.

Thus in order to obtain visas for Portugal, Jewish refugees were required to have not only exit visas from France, but also entry visas for their final destination countries. In November 1939 the Portuguese Foreign Ministry issued another decree – Portuguese consuls were instructed not to grant visas to Jews who had been expelled from their countries of origin. This put an end to the attempts of most foreign Jews in France to escape through Portugal.