Estado Novo (Portugal)

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Portuguese Republic
República Portuguesa
Flag of Portugal Coat of arms of Portugal
flag coat of arms
Flag of Portugal.svg navigation Flag of Portugal.svg
Constitution Political Constitution of the Portuguese Republic of April 11, 1933
Official language Portuguese
Capital Lisbon
Form of government republic
Government system One- party authoritarian system ( UN )
Head of state president
Head of government Prime Minister
- 1940

2,168,071 km²
- 1940
- 1970

currency Portuguese escudo
Existence period 1933-1974
Time zone UTC ± 0 GMT
License Plate P

The term Estado Novo ( Portuguese for "New State" ), also Salazarism called ( salazarismo ), was the self-designation of of António de Oliveira Salazar founded " corporatist " oriented authoritarian dictatorship in Portugal between the early 1930s and the 1974th

In 1926 the First Republic was ended by a military coup . Since the transition from the military dictatorship to the Estado Novo was fluid, several dates are cited as the beginning: May 28, 1930, when António de Oliveira Salazar, at that time still finance minister , first spoke of the Estado Novo in a keynote address, 1932, when Salazar was appointed Prime Minister , and in 1933 when the new Estado Novo Constitution came into force.

The Estado Novo was mentioned for the first time in two speeches by Salazar on May 28 and June 30, 1930. The military government agreed with his plans and appointed Salazar on July 5, 1932 Prime Minister. The new constitution dictated by Salazar in 1933 created the Estado Novo. The constitution provided for a president directly elected every seven years and a prime minister appointed by the president. The parliament, the Assembleia Nacional , was only accessible to members of the only authorized party, the National Union ( União Nacional , UN). Other parties were banned and opposition forces were persecuted by the secret state police ( PIDE ) founded in 1933 .

The Estado Novo was primarily the work of Salazar and not that of a broader political movement. Salazar's policy in the Estado Novo was determined by the persecution of political opponents and the balancing of the different interest groups of the power poles supporting the regime: the Catholic Church, the military , the economy, the large landowners and the colonies. As a devout Catholic, Salazar strengthened the Catholic Church in Portugal. A 1940 with the Holy See closed Concordat introduced the teaching of religion in state schools again. The Church thus became an important pillar of the Estado Novo, even if it took a more critical position in the last years of the dictatorship, especially in the form of the Bishop of Porto , António Ferreira Gomes .

The wars of independence that broke out in the Portuguese colonies in Africa from 1961 onwards led to increasing dissatisfaction among the population and the military. A partially left-wing movement of the military ( Movimento das Forças Armadas - MFA) arose in the so-called Carnation Revolution on April 25, 1974 and overthrew the regime under Salazar's successor Marcelo Caetano , which ended the Estado Novo. The Carnation Revolution owes its name to the red carnations that the insurgent soldiers put into the barrel of their rifles. Except for four deaths, the revolution was almost bloodless. Shortly after the revolution in Portugal, the democratizations of Greece and Spain also followed.

Prehistory and the end of the first Portuguese republic

In 1926, the first republic in Portugal was already in political agony . The constitutional order was ended by a coup on March 31, 1926, and the last democratically elected president, Bernardino Machado , fled the country. A military junta came to power in which Captain Mendes Cabeçadas , who had been appointed as successor by President Machado, and General Gomes da Costa , the leader of the insurgent military, played the most important roles. Mendes Cabeçadas took over the post of President and Head of Government, and for the first time appointed Salazar to his government as finance minister, who was to become the most important person in the Estado Novo.

The new military junta, which united Mendes Cabeçada, a supporter of the republic and Gomes da Costa, an opponent of the republic, lasted only a week. On June 6, 1926, General Gomes da Costa and his troops marched into Lisbon . Mendes Cabeçada refused to arm the Lisbon population because he feared a bloodbath and the destruction of large parts of the city. So the republican camp had nothing to oppose the troops of Gomes da Costa. On June 17, 1926, he dissolved the military junta, replaced Mendes Cabeçada as president and prime minister and took over both posts himself. Two days later, Mendes Cabeçada went into exile. Salazar no longer belonged to the new government and withdrew to Coimbra . The constitution has now been officially suspended and the Communist Party banned. However, criticism of Gomes da Costa soon arose from the army. At a meeting with high army functionaries on July 6, 1926, they demanded that the general's power be restricted. He refused, was deposed as president, arrested and finally exiled to the Azores . On July 9, 1926, General Óscar Fragoso Carmona was appointed as his successor. He was chosen mainly because Óscar Carmona did not belong to any particular faction within the military.

Consolidation of the military dictatorship and growing influence of Salazar

The Republicans tried in vain to restore the old conditions in early 1927. In Paris, an opposition group, the Paris League , had formed among the exiles , the most prominent member of which was ex-President Machado. In Porto and Lisbon there were uprisings by parts of the army. The insurgents were supported by the Paris League, but the uprising collapsed a short time later. Captain de Passos e Sousa led the government troops against the insurgents. During 1927, de Passos e Sousa briefly became one of President Carmona's most important collaborators. During this time Carmona tried to found a conservative party, which was to become the regime party of the new order. De Passos e Sousa was charged with founding the party. First he made a "political pact" with insurgents and opposition leaders and then disbanded several army units. Carmona appointed de Passos e Sousa to the newly created post of Deputy Prime Minister. Only one day later, however, there was an attempted coup by members of the army in opposition to de Passos e Sousa. President Carmona then abolished the post of Deputy Prime Minister and appointed a new government under Vicente de Freitas , an opponent of the now failed political pact. President Carmona issued a general ban on political parties and banned the main trade union movement.

The most important political question of the first years of the military dictatorship was the totally shattered state finances. Finance Minister General Sinel de Cordes , who managed a deficit of 600 million Escudos for the financial year 1927 , tried to obtain a loan from the League of Nations for Portugal . Ivens Ferraz , who replaced de Cordes as Portuguese chief negotiator at the League of Nations, obtained the League of Nations approval for this loan. However, its granting was tied to conditions that many Portuguese perceived as a restriction of national sovereignty and an insult to the country. When Ferraz refused the terms and the credit failed, he was received like a hero in Lisbon. Salazar was also one of the harsh critics of the loan project. Carmona had presidential elections held in March 1928; his rule had not yet had any democratic legitimation. Unlike in the suspended constitution, he was not elected by the now dissolved parliament, but, like Sidónio Pais before him, by a national referendum, with no opponents.

The decisive political figure, however, was increasingly Salazar, who was reappointed finance minister on April 27, 1928 . As such, he succeeded within a very short time in the “miracle” of restructuring the Portuguese state finances. He had obtained special powers of attorney for this from the President. The key to the success of Salazar's budget consolidation was a strong state that could push through tax increases while at the same time reducing government spending. The finance minister quickly became the most powerful person in government, ahead of the head of government. In addition to the successful consolidation of the national budget, which had traditionally been heavily indebted in Portugal, the negative effects of Salazar's economic and financial policy gradually became apparent. The reduction in government spending, including in such important areas as social and educational policy, resulted in Portugal sticking to its original position and remaining one of the poorest and most backward countries in Western Europe. On the other hand, Salazar had his most loyal supporters in the poorly agricultural areas of the north, where the illiteracy rate was extremely high by European standards. In 1929 Prime Minister de Freitas resigned, Ivens Ferraz was his successor. Salazar remained finance minister. It was thanks to Salazar's influence that relations with the Catholic Church relaxed, especially when Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira , a close personal friend of Salazar, was appointed Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon in December 1929 . A new concordat was concluded with the Vatican in which it expressly recognized the separation of church and state that had taken place in the republic .

Even later, when Salazar was already in government, he retained the habitus of a university professor; He taught the Cabinet and his country in speeches that were more like university lectures. In his private life he led an ascetic life, he was never married and had no children. Salazar did not have great charisma, which distinguished him from the other fascist dictators in Europe, especially from Mussolini . In the country he was respected, but not loved.

When Salazar briefly resigned in January 1930 because of criticism of his financial policy with regard to the colonies, his previous influence became evident. Salazar's resignation brought down the Ferraz government. De Passos e Souza was commissioned by President Carmona to form a government. Salazar made it clear, however, that he was unwilling to join a government led by de Passos e Souza. This was enough to make the formation of a government of de Passos e Souza impossible. It was not he who became prime minister, but Domingues Oliveira , and Salazar rejoined the government as finance minister.

A number of government decrees from this period indicated the direction of the new state. In this way, anyone who did not get up while the national anthem was playing could be arrested . A decree banned the use of non-Portuguese words on menus and in advertising. Also by decree, the employment of foreigners was banned as long as there were Portuguese or Brazilian unemployed people living in Portugal , and press censorship was tightened.

National Union flag

Salazar used the period from 1930 to 1932 to build up his corporate state as planned. At the end of June 1930, he announced that he would create a new ruling party, the National Union ( União Nacional , UN), which was officially founded on May 17, 1931. Salazar announced his plans in two keynote speeches. In a first speech, on May 28, 1930, he spoke for the first time of the need for a new constitution through which a strong authoritarian political order was to be created, which in his speech he called "the new state" ( O Estado Novo ) designated. In a second speech on June 30, 1930, he indicated his willingness to create this state. There was some resistance to these plans. General Sousa Dias launched a coup with some units in Madeira , the uprising also spread to the Azores and Cape Verde Islands , but failed when the insurgents ran out of ammunition. Against Salazar's constitutional plans, the Republican-Socialist Alliance was formed, which attracted particularly left-wing sections of the Portuguese military. Mendes Cabeçadas also supported this group, and President Carmona received their representatives in the presidential palace . However, when military units mutinied in Lisbon on August 26, 1931 , Salazar struck back. He managed to put down the uprising in one day. The insurgents were branded as communists by decree . The foundations of the corporate state were also created by government decree . In December 1931 a “National Political Council” was created to “advise” the President on political issues. De facto, the powers of President Carmona were thereby restricted in favor of the government and thus Salazar. This brought the military to the Salazar line. Prime Minister Oliveira's government resigned as a whole; in July 1932, Salazar officially became Prime Minister.

Salazar as Prime Minister, establishment of the corporate state and World War II

In January 1933, Salazar established the political secret police (PVDE, see PIDE ), which was to become the mainstay of his rule and an important instrument of repression. His predecessor Vicente de Freitas was deposed as Mayor of Lisbon .

Salazar held a referendum on the new constitution , which was then put into effect. The constitution, largely influenced by Salazar, was based heavily on fascist Italy . Thereafter, the president should be directly elected by the people for a period of seven years. The President appointed the Prime Minister, who was responsible to the President. The one-party system was introduced, making the National Union the only authorized party. The fascist trade union movement that tried to push Salazar towards fascism was brought into line and incorporated into Salazar's national union. The National Assembly, consisting only of members of the National Union, was given the right to initiate legislative procedures, provided that this did not result in additional government spending. The right to strike was abolished by the National Labor Code and free trade unions were banned. A general strike directed against it in January 1934 soon collapsed. Employees and employers were also organized in a common corporate system along the lines of the Italian model, the political representatives of which sat together with other professional corporations in the Corporations Chamber, the second chamber next to the National Assembly. The conversion of Portugal from a republic to an authoritarian corporate state based on the fascist model was thus completed.

In December 1934 constitutional elections to the National Assembly were held, in which women were allowed to participate for the first time. Since illiterate people were still excluded from this and the right to vote was linked to proof of a certain possession, only around 20% of Portuguese could still make use of it. In the end, the National Union of Salazars won big thanks to the state reform carried out previously.

In 1937 Salazar survived a bomb attack unharmed. The assassins were arrested.

In the years that followed, foreign policy determined events. The Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936 and World War II in 1939 . Salazar's sympathies were with Franco , whom Portugal had officially supported since 1936. Domestically, the communists were Salazar's main opponents, which is why he never succeeded in establishing relations with the Soviet Union in terms of foreign policy . The participation of communist volunteer brigades on the part of the democratic government during the Spanish Civil War therefore almost inevitably led Salazar to the side of Franco. More than 20,000 Portuguese volunteers fought on Franco's side with Salazar's support. Finally, in 1939, the Iberia Pact was signed, an assistance and alliance treaty between Portugal and Francoist Spain.

With regard to Germany , Salazar's policy was wait and see. During the Second World War , Portugal declared itself neutral, but this did not prevent regular trade with all those involved in the war. Due to the sale of tungsten , which is vital for the German war economy, to the German Reich between 1943 and 1944, Portugal angered Great Britain , the country's traditional ally. Great Britain then put pressure on President Carmona, who demonstratively sought contacts with opposition, left-wing forces within the military. This demonstration did not fail to have an effect on Salazar, the pro-Germany policy was ended, diplomatic relations with the German Reich broke off in 1944, and the United Kingdom and the USA were allowed to set up military bases on the strategically important Azores . Great Britain and the USA then guaranteed Portuguese neutrality . Salazar continued to appreciate fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini and Spain's General Francisco Franco, but judged Hitler much more negatively. As a staunch Catholic, he particularly detested the anti-church, and in some cases even neo-pagan, aspects of National Socialist politics (e.g. “revival of the Germanic religion” by Himmler and the like). When the question of Portugal's loyalty in World War II had been settled to the satisfaction of the Allies and President Carmonas, his contacts with the opposition quickly broke off.

As a neutral country, Portugal was only indirectly affected by the war. The colony of Portuguese Timor , first occupied by Allied troops from Australia and the Netherlands , and later by the Japanese , was the only territory of Portugal where direct fighting took place during the war ( Battle of Timor ). The Portuguese Macau came under Japanese control by a protectorate decision in 1943 .

End of the Second World War, beginning of the colonial conflict

In 1946 women's suffrage was introduced. In 1946 and 1947 there were again two military conspiracies against the Salazar government, but both of them were suppressed by the government. The insurgents later claimed in the trial that they were encouraged to act by President Carmona, but the real role of the president was never established. In January 1946, in a memorandum to the government, President Carmona asked Prime Minister Salazar to “study” the president's proposals aimed at cautious democratization . Indeed, in the post-war period there was a cautious liberalization , the one-party system was opened somewhat, even if the parliament continued to be monopolized by the National Union. In the presidential elections in 1949, an opposition candidate, General Norton de Matos , could be put up for the first time . Salazar also relaxed censorship and decreed an amnesty for some political prisoners . The opposition then formed the Movement of Democratic Unity (MUD - Movimento de Unidade Democrática). This movement united all of Salazar's opponents, from democrats to fascists to communists.

Carmona had since reconciled with Salazar and therefore received the support of the National Union in the elections. After further manipulation by the government, General de Matos withdrew his candidacy in protest on the eve of the election and declared that his candidacy alone would legitimize the farce of a free election carried out by the government in the eyes of the world public. Carmona was re-elected president without a candidate. Also in 1949 Portugal joined NATO as a founding member , thus abandoning the previous foreign policy course of neutrality. In 1951, the Portuguese colonies were declared overseas provinces , that is, an integral part of the mother country. However, this did not entail greater political autonomy for the colonial areas.

In 1951, President Carmona died in office and was buried with great pomp in the National Pantheon in Lisbon . Francisco Craveiro Lopes was the candidate of the government and the National Union in the next presidential election . The opposition put up two candidates against him, Rui Luís Gomes for the communists and Admiral Quintão Meireles for the democratic opposition. Gomes was declared ineligible by the Supreme Electoral Court due to new regulations that had only recently been passed by the government. Apparently under pressure from the government, Meireles withdrew his candidacy, so that Craveiro Lopes was also elected unopposed.

The years 1953 to 1958 also saw the first beginnings of the decolonization efforts of the African colonies, which would later lead to the colonial war that was so ruinous for Portugal. In 1954, UPNA , the Union of the North Angolan Peoples, was founded in exile in the Belgian Congo . The next year the PAIGC ( Partido Africano para a Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde , African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde), the liberation movement of Portuguese Guinea and the Cape Verde Islands, followed . The PAIGC, whose founder and first chairman was Amílcar Cabral , who was murdered in Conakry in 1973 , later became one of the most powerful liberation movements within the Portuguese colonial empire and the first to fight for the independence of a Portuguese colony from the motherland. In 1958, the Republic of Guinea (Conakry) under Ahmed Sékou Touré became the first French colony in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence. Guinean independence served as a model for neighboring Portuguese Guinea (today Guinea-Bissau) and there, too, led to an increase in anti-colonial sentiment.

It was not until 1955 that Portugal joined the United Nations . Up to this point in time, the Soviet Union had prevented the country from joining.

The concentration camp or secret service prison in Tarrafal

In the years 1936–1954, at the time of the Salazar dictatorship, a concentration camp (" campo de concentração do Tarrafal ") was set up on the Cape Verde Islands . The first prisoners arrived at the Tarrafal camp on October 29, 1936 . A total of around 340 prisoners were imprisoned here in the 17 years of the first phase of the camp's existence. These were mainly sailors of the Organização Revolucionário da Armada , who had participated in a revolt on September 8, 1936 , as well as members of the international brigades that had fought in the Spanish Civil War. Republicans, members of the opposition , all members of the Secretariat of the Portuguese Communist Party and other members of the opposition to the Salazar regime were also held prisoner.

32 prisoners died during their imprisonment, including in 1940 Mário Castelhano , leader of the CGT trade union and editor-in-chief of the anarcho-syndicalist daily A Batalha , and in 1942 the Communist Party General Secretary Bento António Gonçalves . The prisoners were tortured in a number of ways. The determined and declared intention of the camp management and the camp doctor was to "let the prisoners die" through inhumane conditions, withheld medical treatment, malnutrition and torture. Untreated severe forms of malaria were the most common cause of death. The prisoners' attempts to escape failed.

Guards and prisoners alike lived with an eye on German National Socialism . After the Battle of Stalingrad , the brutality of the camp management decreased somewhat and after the end of German National Socialism the situation relaxed so much that from 1945 until the camp was closed on January 26, 1954, “only” two prisoners died. Most of the prisoners had also been transferred to mainland Portugal or pardoned until the closure .

From 1938 João da Silva was head of the concentration camp. Da Silva visited the German concentration camps beforehand , and officers were trained in the Dachau concentration camp . The guards consisted of 25 members of the Portuguese secret police PVDE (from 1945 PIDE ) as well as a battalion of over 75 Angolan auxiliary guards and a few Cape Verdeans .

In the years 1961–1974, a second phase of use of the camp followed, which has now been renamed Campo de Trabalho de Chão Bom (German: Labor Camp of Chão Bom). Members of the anti-colonial independence movements from Cape Verde , Guinea-Bissau and Angola were held “preventively” or in “protective custody” on the orders of the PIDE , mostly without a court judgment .

After the Carnation Revolution on April 25, 1974, the camp administration refused to open the camp in the hope of a political reversal in Portugal. On May 1, 1974, the population of the island of Santiago freed the prisoners in a large demonstration. The camp was then used as a political prison for the new rulers until it was completely closed on July 19, 1975.

None of the Tarrafal perpetrators was ever convicted in Portugal.

Humberto Delgado and the 1958 presidential election

The 1958 presidential elections turned out to be a real test for the government. President Craveiro Lopes had increasingly turned away from Salazar and turned to the opposition. In General Humberto Delgado, the opposition itself had a promising candidate for the first time. Delgado, an Air Force officer, was one of the coup soldiers in 1926. During the Second World War he was the Portuguese negotiator in negotiations with the British and Americans about the approval of Allied bases in the Azores. The contact with the Allied officers shaped Delgado. It was here that he had contact for the first time with officers of the western democracies who were doing their work apolitically without wanting to disrupt the democratic development of their country. This attitude then became something of a model for Delgado. In the 1958 election, Delgado originally supported a re-election of President Craveiro Lopes. However, when it became clear that he would not stand for election due to a lack of government support and the National Union chose Américo Tomás as its candidate, Delgado decided to stand as an opposing candidate. Another rival candidate, Arlindo Vincente, drawn up by the Communist Party, withdrew his candidacy in favor of Delgado.

Delgado withstood any pressure from the government to withdraw his candidacy before the elections, allowing the Portuguese to choose between two candidates for the first time since the 1926 coup in 1958. Delgado also made it pretty clear during the election campaign that if he were elected, Salazar would be sacked as head of government. The elections of 1958 cannot really be called free. For example, B. a government decree by the opposition to send its own election observers to the polling stations. According to official figures, Delgado received 23% of the votes cast; in the opinion of most observers, he would have won the election if it had been really free . In any case, this election shocked Salazar so much that he had the constitution changed: in future, the president was no longer to be elected directly by the people, but by an electoral body of 602 members, that of the members of the national assembly of the cooperation chambers, the colonial - and local governments should exist.

An uprising against election fraud was quickly suppressed by the government. After the elections, Delgado had to fear for his own safety and went into exile in Spain.

Salazar's style of government

Salazar cultivated a personal regimental style, but without the personality cult known from other fascist countries. The Estado Novo was his foundation and geared towards him, otherwise had no fundamental ideology. Since Salazar saw his fellow citizens as easily susceptible to political demagogy, he relied on a consistent de-politicization of the country. All political parties remained banned, the National Union, officially not a party, but a civil association, was intended to keep the country quiet and therefore seduced its supporters into apathy rather than political discussion. Salazar carried out a number of mass demonstrations, had a youth organization ( Mocidade Portuguesa ), a paramilitary militia ( Legião Portuguesa ), its own greeting, and other outward appearances adopted by fascist states. In principle, however, he did not try to politicize the people, his state was often described with the catchphrase “ Fado , Fátima e Futebol ” (meaning music, religion and sport), which were supposed to pacify the people. Politics in the Salazar years was limited to balancing the influence of the various groups whose support the government needed - the military , business and commerce, landowners, colonial interests, and the church.

Salazar was also ambivalent about the Catholic Church . He, who had attended a Catholic seminary himself in his youth , called the Church “the great source of our national life” and had normalized relations with the Vatican through the Concordat . On the other hand, however, he tried consistently to limit the influence of the church on state politics. Otherwise he tried above all to heal the great wounds in society that the struggle between the Church and anti-clericalists had inflicted during the First Republic.

The Portuguese colonial war and the end of Salazar's rule

Portuguese colonies 1916–1974 (year of independence in red)

After the elections of 1958, the colonial wars and increasing domestic political difficulties began in Portugal. In June 1960, Mário Pinto de Andrade founded the MPLA , the communist liberation movement of Angola, in Conakry (Republic of Guinea ) . The General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution (No. 1514) banning all colonial possession and calling on the colonial powers to immediately set up indigenous governments in the colonial territories. The United Nations countered the Portuguese hint that its African territories were not colonies but overseas provinces with a new resolution declaring all Portuguese property outside Europe to be colonies. On the Portuguese side, the USA was accused of duplicity, as they measured by their standards should have given up Alaska as well .

In Mozambique , the Mueda massacre occurred in 1960 when Portuguese troops fired at Africans who protested against the use of forced labor. Around 500 people died. In 1961, Portugal lost its Indian colonies of Goa , Damão and Diu when they were suddenly occupied by the Indian army . In Goa, 3,000 poorly equipped Portuguese soldiers faced a superior Indian strength of 30,000 men. The Portuguese therefore offered little resistance to the Indian invasion. Salazar had, however, ordered his army to hold Goa in any case and, after the fall of Goa, punished the army with the demotion of some officers. Since it was well known in the army how hopeless the military situation had been for Portugal in Goa, these measures, which were perceived as unjust, led to criticism and dissatisfaction in the army.

Portuguese soldiers in
Luanda in the 1960s
PAIGC control
post 1974

In the same year the struggle against the Portuguese colonial power in Angola began. More than 800 Europeans, mostly civilians, were massacred in uprisings in the north of the country. The Portuguese then bombed the north of the country, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties. The General Assembly of the United Nations called for the independence of Angola, and the situation there was also the subject of a conversation between American President Kennedy and his French counterpart de Gaulle . Angola was placed on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council and there was a general anti-Portuguese sentiment. Salazar then accused the US of supporting uprisings in Angola and transferred fresh troops from Portugal to the area. In the end, both the United Nations Security Council and NATO condemned the Portuguese actions in Angola.

Critics of the regime led by Henrique Galvão hijacked the " Santa Maria ", a passenger steamer, and a TAP plane , with which they dropped leaflets over Lisbon calling for an uprising against the government. A number of officers, led by Defense Minister Botelho Moniz, tried to overthrow Salazar but failed. President Craveiro Lopes is also said to have supported the failed coup . An uprising by the democratic military in 1962 (attack on the barracks in Beja), in which Humberto Delgado also took part, also failed. After the coup failed, Delgado left the country again.

In 1961, the PAIGC began its uprising in Guinea-Bissau after Amílcar Cabral had called for Guinea-Bissau's independence in an open letter to the Portuguese government. Two Angolan liberation movements united to form the FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola), which founds a government-in-exile in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa ). Agostinho Neto became chairman of the MPLA , in Mozambique was of Eduardo Mondlane , the FRELIMO established. The colonial war also began in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda . In Guinea-Bissau, the PAIGC attacked a barracks in Tite. The OAU , founded in 1963 , was one of its first acts to call on its members to sever diplomatic relations with Portugal.

In 1964, anti-Portuguese guerrilla fighting began in Mozambique with an attack by FRELIMO on the barracks in Mueda. The PAIGC succeeded in liberating the island of Como from Portuguese soldiers. A state of emergency was declared for the northern provinces of Mozambique. The FNLA was recognized by the OAU as the sole representative of the Angolan people, a decision that was later ( 1968 ) revised in favor of the MPLA. The PAIGC held its first congress in Conakry in December 1964.

In 1964 there were protests by university students against Salazar and strikes. In the 1965 elections, President Tomás was re-elected, now using the new procedure by a handpicked electoral body and without opposing candidates. Probably also to prevent Humberto Delgado from running again, he was murdered by the Portuguese secret police PIDE, the body was found in the Spanish border town of Badajoz .

Especially in the lower ranks of the military and among the soldiers, dissatisfaction with the unsinnable colonial war grew. Conscripts were drafted for a two-year service and were deployed in the colonies during this time. The separation from their families led to great dissatisfaction. Desertion was therefore common, and many Portuguese conscripts preferred to flee abroad rather than join the army. The Portuguese military academy had already relaxed its entry regulations in 1958, otherwise it would no longer be able to find enough candidates for an officer career. The officers traditionally came from wealthier families, as the military academy charged high tuition fees . After these were lowered, most of the new Cadets came from the petty bourgeoisie . They were often the sons of small traders who could not afford to study at a regular university . In the military service, she was particularly interested in the secure position, combined with the quiet life in the stage, in a garrison on the mainland or in one of the colonies, as the Portuguese military had led for generations. Instead, they found themselves in the middle of a severe military conflict. From this group of disaffected officers later formed the MFA , the carrier of the revolt of the Carnation Revolution .

In the colonies, these officers often commanded troops made up mostly of native black soldiers. The officers saw firsthand how parts of the white Portuguese settlers and large landowners treated the blacks who could be used for forced labor until the end of the 1970s . Their sympathy was often more on the side of blacks. Many therefore began to avoid armed conflict with the liberation movements as much as possible, which of course weakened the fighting strength of the Portuguese. There was also an imbalance in armament. While the USA and NATO had announced an arms embargo against Portugal, the liberation movements received state-of-the- art weapons and equipment from the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China .

The conflicts in Africa meanwhile spread. While all the other European colonial powers gradually gave their colonies independence, Portugal steadfastly refused to even discuss this option. The country became increasingly isolated, both from the now independent states that bordered the Portuguese territories in Africa, and from the other European colonial powers. In 1966 the Portuguese embassy in Kinshasa was stormed by angry Africans and Zaire broke off diplomatic relations with Portugal. In Angola, Jonas Savimbi founded UNITA , the third major Angolan liberation movement. Since UNITA immediately took up the armed struggle against the Portuguese, the colonial war broke out in the up to then still quiet east of Angola.

In 1968, Mário Soares , who was to play a prominent role as Prime Minister and State President in the post-dictatorship, was deported to São Tomé because of his opposition to Salazar .

On September 7, 1968, Prime Minister Salazar suffered a stroke . Although he survived, it was clear that he was no longer capable of governing. He was then deposed by President Tomás, Marcelo Caetano was appointed as his successor.

In the hospital, Salazar was initially made to believe that he ruled the country, and even mock cabinet meetings were held to make Salazar believe he was still prime minister. When asked about his successor Caetano, the former dictator replied: “A capable man, it's just a shame that he doesn't want to go into politics”. At that time, Caetano was already Prime Minister.

The Caetano government and the end of the Estado Novo

Salazar's successor, Marcelo Caetano

As one of his first pronouncements, Caetano proclaimed not to change colonial policy, the greatest problem facing the Portuguese state. The colonial wars therefore continued with undiminished severity and brought the Portuguese state into ever greater difficulties. Military service was extended to three, then four years. The high spending on the military drove up inflation . Caetano was the first Portuguese Prime Minister to visit all of the Portuguese colonies in Africa during 1969 . In Lourenço Marques ( Maputo ) he indicated for the first time that Portugal was willing to grant its overseas provinces "progressive autonomy". About 200 Portuguese soldiers died in an accident when a transport boat sank to take them across the Zambezi . The leader of the Mozambican FRELIMO, Eduardo Mondlane, was killed by a letter bomb in Dar es Salaam . The background to this act has never been clarified, most observers suspected the Portuguese secret police PIDE / DGS .

Caetano carefully tried to reform the state. However, many of his reforms were cosmetic in nature. The unity party, the previous National Union , was renamed Acção Nacional Popular (ANP - National People's Action). The PIDE was also given a new name: DGS, Direcção Geral de Segurança. In the parliamentary elections of 1968, the ANP won. However, a number of politicians were also elected, forming a more liberal wing within the ANP, in a sense an opposition group within the regime. Some of these politicians, especially Sá Carneiro and Pinto Balsemão , would later play a prominent role in the Third Republic . In the election campaign, opposition politicians openly called for an end to the colonial wars and the release of the overseas provinces to independence for the first time.

As a result of liberalization, the radical democratic movements grew. The Catholic Church in Portugal also spoke out increasingly against the colonial wars. Pope Paul VI received the leaders of PAIGC, MPLA and FRELIMO in the Vatican in 1970. The Bishop of Porto was brought to justice for his opposition to the wars. Critical clergy were expelled from Mozambique. In Guinea-Bissau, the situation also became unsustainable militarily. The PAIGC troops advanced on the capital Bissau , from which one could already see the cannon fire of the nearby front. Large parts of the country were no longer under the rule of the army, but as so-called liberated zones under the command of the PAIGC. During the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1972, a speech by the Portuguese Foreign Minister was boycotted by representatives of most countries in protest against Portuguese colonial policy. The UN recognized the PAIGC as the representative of the people of Guinea-Bissau. MPLA and FRELIMO received observer status with the UN. A General Assembly resolution declared the fight of the Africans against the Portuguese to be legitimate. The decolonization committee called for the immediate transfer of power to the liberation movements; The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution at an extraordinary meeting in Addis Ababa , in which the liberation movements were supported. Amílcar Cabral announced during the UN General Assembly his plan to unilaterally proclaim independence in the liberated zones of Portuguese Guinea.

In March 1973, the PAIGC troops succeeded in shooting down a Portuguese plane for the first time. On September 24, the PAIGC finally put its plan into action and declared the unilateral independence of Portuguese Guinea, which changed its name to Guinea-Bissau. Massacres committed by the Portuguese troops (for example November 1971 in Mucumbura, December 1972 in Wriyamu in Mozambique) also raised world opinion against Portugal.

Monument to the Carnation Revolution in Lisbon

In Spain, Franco's Prime Minister Carrero Blanco was assassinated on December 20, 1973. Caetano went to the funeral in Madrid , his absence from Portugal used ultra-right troops, for whom Caetano's cautious democratization was already going too far, to attempt a coup, which however could be put down. One of the leaders of this coup attempt was General Kaúlza Oliveira de Arriaga , the previous commander in chief of the Portuguese troops in Mozambique, who hoped that the coup and a new government would intensify the fighting in Africa. The military was divided into two groups: On the one hand, the supporters of General Kaúlza Oliveira de Arriaga wanted a military victory in the colonial wars and therefore made all the country's forces available to the army. On the other side were the moderate military, led by Chief of Staff Costa Gomes and General Spínola , who wanted a negotiated solution. With the failure of the 1973 coup attempt, the latter group gained the upper hand within the military. The colonial war meanwhile continued to take up all of the country's resources. In 1974 Portugal finally had 140,000 men or 80% of its total armed forces stationed in Africa.

The country was ripe for radical political change. The years of the Caetano government had shown that the old system was incapable of reforming itself from within. The economy was down. In addition to the high costs of the colonial war, there was the general crisis of the world economy following the first oil shock in 1973. Tony Judt described the situation in Portugal towards the end of the Estado Novo as follows: “The average standard of living in Salazar's Portugal was more for contemporary Africa than for continental Europe characteristic: the annual per capita income in 1960 was just 160 dollars (compared with, for example, 219 dollars in Turkey or 1,453 dollars in the USA). But the rich were really rich, the babies died more often than in any other country in Europe and 32 percent of the population were illiterate. Salazar [...] was not only completely unaffected by Portugal's backwardness, but also saw it as a key to stability - when he was informed that oil had been found in Portugal's Angolan possessions, his only comment was: 'What a shame.' "

At that time, many young Portuguese had emigrated permanently or were working as guest workers in France , Spain or West Germany.

In all areas of society, especially among the younger officers of the military, there was a growing desire for political change and the understanding that only a radical change in the political system could bring about these changes.


  • Dirk Friedrich: Salazars Estado Novo. The life and survival of an authoritarian regime 1930–1974. Minifanal, Bonn, 2016, ISBN 978-3-95421-111-1 .

Web links

Commons : Estado Novo  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Jad Adams: Women and the Vote. A world history. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2014, ISBN 978-0-19-870684-7 , p. 438.
  2. See e.g. E.g .: José Manuel Soares Tavares: O campo de concentração do Tarrafal (1936–1954): a origem eo quotidiano . Edições Colibri, 2007.
  3. Jürgen Schäfer: "You came to die here": Almost unknown: The Portuguese concentration camp Tarrafal from 1936 to 1954 on Cape Verde . In: Junge Welt , October 19, 2005.
  4. Cristina Morais: Tarrafal, de Campo de Concentração a Museu da Resistência. In: October 31, 2011, accessed December 26, 2012 (Portuguese).
  5. Portugal: Temporary Colonies? In: Der Spiegel 33/1973. August 13, 1973, pp. 64-73 , accessed July 14, 2018 .