Was Portugal Neutral during WW2?

Apr 2017
1,114
U.S.A.
#1
Portugal is often said to have been neutral during the second world war but was this accurate? In Europe they were generally neutral but allowed the allies to use air/naval facilities in the Atlantic later in the war. They also sent a few thousand volunteers to fight with the Germans against the Soviet Union. As for the Pacific, Macau had Japanese "advisors" installed to oversee it but maintained Portuguese sovereignty. The colonial government planned to sell aviation fuel to Japan and was bombed by the US air force (who later paid damages after the war). East Timor was occupied by Dutch/Australian forces as the Japanese advanced and was later occupied by the Japanese. Timorese natives fought against them for the duration of the war. Given these events can Portugal be considered neutral during ww2?
 
Mar 2016
923
Australia
#2
The problem is grouping the conflicts in Europe and the Pacific together as one war, which is problematic when one conflict involves a belligerent which isn't involved in the other. Portugal was arguably, more-or-less neutral in the European conflict with Germany, but they definitely weren't neutral in the war in the Pacific, because of their determination to defend their colonies. The issue of defending their overseas colonies was completely detached from a desire to curb Germany's expansion in Europe, unlike with the UK and France. Therefore it's more accurate to specify which theatre they fought in, rather than generalising it by saying they fought or didn't fight in WW2. Portugal had nothing to do with the original reason for WW2, and were merely caught up in a later consequence of the war (i.e. Japan's involvement in the Pacific).
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,156
Portugal
#3
Portugal is often said to have been neutral during the second world war but was this accurate? In Europe they were generally neutral but allowed the allies to use air/naval facilities in the Atlantic later in the war. They also sent a few thousand volunteers to fight with the Germans against the Soviet Union. As for the Pacific, Macau had Japanese "advisors" installed to oversee it but maintained Portuguese sovereignty. The colonial government planned to sell aviation fuel to Japan and was bombed by the US air force (who later paid damages after the war). East Timor was occupied by Dutch/Australian forces as the Japanese advanced and was later occupied by the Japanese. Timorese natives fought against them for the duration of the war. Given these events can Portugal be considered neutral during ww2?
Yes, Portuguese official policy was of neutrality and Portugal tried to maintain that policy during all the war.

Regarding the issues that you mentioned:

Allowing (renting) the use of naval and aerial facilities (like in Azores) although beneficiated one of the sides, didn’t put Portugal into war.

Portugal didn’t send thousands of volunteers to fight against the Soviet Union. Spain organized a division and there were Portuguese there. Many were already on Spain and had fought for the Nationalists during the Civil War. But it could be erroneous to say thousands, it would be more correct to say hundreds, anyway below the number 1000: http://ler.letras.up.pt/uploads/ficheiros/15251.pdf (in Portuguese, but the abstract is also in English). There is a master thesis about the subject: Portugueses na Wehrmacht. Os Voluntários da Divisão Azul (1941-1944) (in Portuguese, access needed).

In the Pacific the situation was clearly different. Portugal had two small colonies: Macau and Timor, few military resources in the area, and no possibilities to defend them. Furthermore, Portugal didn’t want to be dragged to the war by the events in the Pacific.

About Timor: in the day 4 of November of 1941, Anthony Eden, at the time at the Foreign Office, asked the Portuguese ambassador Monteiro, what would be the Portuguese reaction if the Japanese attack Timor, if Portugal would defend it, and in a positive case if they were willing to accept British support (by British we should read Dutch/Australian). Salazar answered in a positive way to both questions, and about the second not only that Portugal accepted British support, but also that Portugal expected that support due the alliance between the two countries. It was considered sending a Portuguese military official to Singapore to talk about the defence of the territory. Due to the consequent events, I don’t know if that official really travelled, or if he travelled, if he reached the destiny and the reunion took place. That British support should be requested by the Portuguese government, and was never asked. Anyway the Dutch and Australian forces entered the territory, the action was condemned by the Portuguese.

Portuguese reinforcements were sent to Timor to render the Dutch/Australian, but they didn’t arrive on time. We should recall that there was the fear of combats between the Portuguese and the Dutch/Australian, upon the arrival of the reinforcements. We can recall what we are discussing in this forum in the thread about the events in Mers-el-Kébir, showed that the British had all options in the table.

Some days later the Japanese invaded. But the Japanese always recognized that the administration was Portuguese and sometimes there was a co-existence, even if some 600 European Portuguese were sent to concentration camps in Liquiçá and Maubara. It is probable that if the Dutch/Australian forces weren’t there the situation would have been similar to Macau. Anyway, somewhat around 40000 Portuguese and Timorese died during the Japanese occupation (around 10% of the Population). There were fights between the warrior tribes leaded by the local régulos and the Japanese. Some European civilian Portuguese also joined the guerrilla fight. One of those régulos was Dom Aleixo Corte-Real, liurai of Suro, that during the campaigns in 1910 had already fight for the Portuguese. Corte-Real was captured and executed in 1943. But there were also Timorense militias that were organized and supported Japan that explored the tribal rivalries. Just in 29 Sempteber, 1945, a force of 2500 Portuguese military personal took East Timor again with the Japanese surrender. So probably we can compare the situation here with the situation in the French Indochina.

As it was said in Macau the situation was different. There was no invasion, albeit some there were some skirmishes in the islands. And some 200 Portuguese were imprisoned by the Japanese. There were some 400000 foreign refugees in Macau (it had less than the current 30 km2 at the time). There was lack of supplies. Severe hunger. Curiously Macau was attacked by USA airplanes on the 16th January, 1945. The attack was against an hangar where there was combustible to be delivered to the Japanese in exchange for food. It seems that the small Portuguese garrison thought initially that it was the Japanese attacking before they recognized the USA planes. It is unclear if the small Portuguese garrison answered with AA fire.

I didn’t find nothing online and in English about this, but there are two banking reports about the situation of the two colonies, mostly in a monetary perspective, but they are worth to read (even with a translator):

About Timor: https://www.cgd.pt/Institucional/Pa...ments/Papel-Moeda-Ocupacao-Niponica-Timor.pdf

About Macau: https://www.cgd.pt/Institucional/Pa...Relatorio-Gerencia-1938_1945-Filial-Macau.pdf

So, even with all the problems, and with all the internal tendencies, both for the Axis and the Allies, Portugal was officially neutral and was able to maintain that neutrality during the war.

The problem is grouping the conflicts in Europe and the Pacific together as one war, which is problematic when one conflict involves a belligerent which isn't involved in the other. Portugal was arguably, more-or-less neutral in the European conflict with Germany, but they definitely weren't neutral in the war in the Pacific, because of their determination to defend their colonies. The issue of defending their overseas colonies was completely detached from a desire to curb Germany's expansion in Europe, unlike with the UK and France. Therefore it's more accurate to specify which theatre they fought in, rather than generalising it by saying they fought or didn't fight in WW2. Portugal had nothing to do with the original reason for WW2, and were merely caught up in a later consequence of the war (i.e. Japan's involvement in the Pacific).
Mainly agree with the division of the Wars. But in both cases, as seen above, even with the transgressions, Portugal was officially neutral, and that status didn’t change. There was never a state of war between Portugal and any of the Allies, or between Portugal and any of the Axis powers.
 
May 2017
807
France
#4
There were also Portugueses volunteers,the "viriates légions",in the Wehrmacht,during the campaign of Russia.They had the same statute as the"Blue Division" of Franco during the operation Barbarossa.They finished their career in the waffen SS batallions of iberic volunteers.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,156
Portugal
#5
There were also Portugueses volunteers,the "viriates légions",in the Wehrmacht,during the campaign of Russia.They had the same statute as the"Blue Division" of Franco during the operation Barbarossa.They finished their career in the waffen SS batallions of iberic volunteers.
The “Viriatos” (from Viriathus) was the propaganda name given to the Portuguese fighters on the Nationalist side during the Spanish Civil War. As I said in my previous post, some of them remained in Spain and joined the Spanish “Blue Division” and, some men of the “Blue Division”, finished their career in the Waffen SS. Those Portuguese had the same statute as the “Blue Division” volunteers because they were in the “Blue Division”. There was no “viriates légions”. Even in the Spanish Civil War there were no “Viriatos” units, most of the Viriatos were in the Foreign Legion or in the Falange units.

We should note that the statute of Spain in WWII was not strictly a neutral one, it was often consider non-belligerent.
 
May 2017
807
France
#6
There was a lot of non belligèrent on the russian front:french LVF,swedish and norvegian soldiers,bulgarians,spanish and portuguese soldiers....It is easy to go to war with no declaration-if it is good you are the winner-and if it finished by a disaster,to say "we were neutrals".In Austria,they were for the Anschluss until Stalingrad.
 
May 2017
807
France
#7
I am also interested by: - the numbers and the names of the "banderas de la Legion" who had portugueses soldiers in their companies.
- the names of the "banderas de Falange" who had portugueses volunteers in their companies.The "banderas" were units of fighting of a dimension of a batallion;they must not be assimilate as the groops of falangists charged to do the service of order and repression at one hundred kilometers of the front.Like in Germany,SS and waffen SS.
And finally,did the soldiers of Salazar participate to actions on the Cordoba s front,the battles of Pozoblanco and Merida ?
 

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