1920s - Portuguese Armed Forces


1920 - 1929 (cont.)

Portuguese Armed Forces

Admiral Semedo, Minister of Defense began several reviews of the military, starting in 1925 the Portuguese government began a complete reorganization of the Portuguese army based on lessons learned during WW1. The Swiss Inspired militia army was abandoned in favor of mixed model, capable of allowing the rapid engagement of operational forces. Two types of units came into existence i) territorial units spread across territory, including regiments of several arms with the primary purpose of training and mobilizing with small staff of officers and NCOs ii) units maintained in higher state of readiness so that their effectiveness in times of peace being identical to those planned for war.

In 1929 Admiral João Semedo, reorganized the naval and army command replacing many of both the navy and army leaders whom he felt were corrupt and incompetent. Included in the reorganization was the removal of half the admirals and generals including all those that had no units reporting to them.

Reorganization and Rearmament
As part of the army reorganization the Portuguese Army organization was as follows in 1928, although it took till 1930 for all the units to be in place:
  • Metropolitan Army – 12 border battalions with emphasis on defense (10 in the Iberian Peninsula, 1 in Azores and 1 in Madeira), 2 cavalry brigades;
  • Ultramar Army – 4 infantry regiments (2 in Angola and 2 in Mozambique), 3 battalions (1 in Guinea, 1 in Portuguese India, 1 in Timor);
Meanwhile the Portuguese Navy after more a decade of Republic neglect was in a sorry state and a former shadow of its once glorious state consisted of:
  • 3 Guadiana class destroyers;
  • 2 frigates / cruisers;
  • 2 gunships;
  • 2 river gunboats;
  • 4 patrol boats;
  • Naval Support Ships (4 survey vessels, 2 support vessels, and 1 troop transport ship);
In 1926 the Minister of Defense, Admiral João Semedo, authorized the launching a new naval rebuilding program. The program called for the building of over 20 naval ships.
  • Seven Vouga/Douro class destroyers from British Yarrow Shipbuilders. The first three ships to be built in Yarrow and the remaining four to be built at Lisbon with machinery to be supplied by Yarrow. The first three were delivered between 1929 and 1930 but for the remaining four being built in Lisbon, Portugal only received the machinery for one before UK broke off economic and political ties in 1931.
  • Two Goncalo Velho class frigates from British Hawthorn Leslie Shipyards, as well as two frigates Pedro Nunes Class ordered from the shipyard in Lisbon with machinery from UK. All four frigates were delivered between 1928 and 1930.
  • Three Delfim Class Submarines from Italy delivered between 1929 and 1931.
National Arms Industrial Development
When Admiral João Semedo became Minister of Defense the Portuguese military industry was in no position to support the Portuguese military and security forces. Like the rest of the country it now almost relied exclusively of foreign countries for most of its military needs. The country had no modern shipyard, limited artillery, munitions and small arms capabilities. Since the 18th century the Portuguese had lost its ability to support its forces.

The largest small arms and munition factory in the country was the government owned company called Fábrica de Material de Guerra (War Material Factory) in the outskirts of Lisbon. Originally called Fábrica Militar de Braço de Prata (FMBP), the Republicans had reorganized the small Portuguese military industry and renamed it as part of their grand military plans to make Portugal self-sufficient and had consolidated the country’s arm industry. Unfortunately, like all of the Republic’s attempts, the reforms had left the country in no better situation.

In 1923 Fábrica de Material de Guerra was renamed back to Fábrica Militar de Braço de Prata and plans set in motion to expand both its munitions and various rifles and guns for both military and security forces. Production of both munitions and rifles increased during the 1920s. It began producing 81 mm mortars, Bergmann submachine guns and Vickers machine guns. During the 1920s FMBP underwent major reorganizations and expansions; in 1925 it was partially sold to private investors allowing for investment in its operation and expansion which was completed in 1929.

During the Great War the army had purchased several planes and in 1918 the army had founded an Aerospace Support company called “Oficinas Gerais de Material Aeronáutico” (OGMA). During the 1920s the army air wing purchased several planes from France and Britain which OGMA was responsible for assembling and maintaining. In 1922 it started assembling and maintaining the Caudron G-3 and in 1929 the Vickers Valpraiso.

Lastly the lack of modern shipyard was only started to be addressed in 1926 when the construction of country’s first modern shipyard was started on the southern banks of the Tejo Estuary across from Lisbon. The “Arsenal do Alfeite” shipyard construction was financed in part by the Great War reparations per the Versailles Accord. In 1929 the construction of the Viana do Castelo shipyards in Northern Portugal was started.

This is what the Portuguese armed forces sorry state looked like in 1920s. The size and composition are identical to iOTL. What we are viewing is the modernization and buildup taking place a little earlier. We have just had the POD in 1920 instead of 1926 so we would not be able to witness too great of a deviation. Question/ Comments?? Return September 2 as we outline the economic situation (it will be posted in two sections).
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1920s - Economy (Oil & MIneral Development and Industrial Development)


1920 - 1929 (cont.)

Economy (1 of 2)

The Minister of Finance and Economy’s first order of business was the stabilization of the government expenditures and the currency. Within two years of Pedro Magalhães Mai appointment as Minister of Finance and Economy he produced the first budget surpluses using a mixture of increased government revenue and reduced government expenditures. For the remainder of the decade the Portuguese government continued to generate operating surpluses while it did borrow additional money for infrastructure investment.

In 1927, Minister Mai, frustrated with the incompetence and lack of knowledge of many government bureaucrats and administrators brought to Portugal over a dozen retired senior British bureaucrats and administrators to advise the Portuguese government and especially his ministry on the development and administration of the new-found wealth. He also funded the further education in Britain of some of the most promising government administrators along with work terms in several British government departments.[1]

Oil & Mineral Development
On 5 March 1921, a small 3.2 magnitude earthquake hit western Algarve region. Several government officials visited the area to assess any damage, while there they heard that several farmers near Aljezur were complaining about polluted wells. Upon investigation, they discovered that the substance was oil.[2] Several officials tried to take advantage of the situation but when news reached Lisbon President Carmona nationalized all mineral rights to the region. Following the investigation, the oil find was found to be good quality, sweet, easy to extract, refine and more importantly for Portugal the reserves were very large.[3] Portugal’s problem was that it did not have the technology or the resources to exploit the new-found reserves.

The discovery of oil was both a shock to Portugal as well as Europe who wondered what it would mean for the country. The first task entrusted to the new Minister of Finance and Economy in his first month was the negotiations with several oil companies who were clamoring to develop the find. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC), Royal Dutch Shell Group (Shell) were the primary bidders but when the two British companies decided to jointly develop the Algarve oil field and thus lowered their bid, Minister Magalhães Mai invited German oil company Wintershall as well as US companies Exxon and Mobil to bid on the project. The two British companies surprised at the Portuguese government’s sudden move at first began a large campaign to sway the Portuguese government with lavish parties and gifts to government officials and to prominent supporters of the government. To the surprise of the British companies this had the opposite affect with Portuguese government advancing discussions with the German and US companies. The British companies angry and embarrassed at the thought of losing such a large opportunity relented and substantially increased their royalty offer. Minister Magalhães Mai was not satisfied and demanded better transfer of technology and training of Portuguese staff as well as the building of oil pipeline and refinery in Portugal.[4] The British companies painted into a wall and knowing the German and US were willing to meet Portuguese demands reluctantly agreed. With the British patience at all time low they balked at the Portuguese government newest demand that royalties were subject to renegotiation every five years and they walked away from deal. The Portuguese then started negotiations with both Wintershall and Mobil but during the negotiations the British companies notified the Portuguese government that they had agreed to all the Portuguese demands.

In 1923 the Portuguese oil company Sociedade Nacional de Petróleos (SONAP) was founded with APOC and Shell owning 90% of shares and the remaining 10% owned by the Portuguese government. SONAP was given exclusive rights to develop the Algarve oil field. Oil production started in 1925 but in 1927 the Portuguese government prevented SONAP from exporting any oil due to the company’s failure to adhere to provisions of the agreement. The oil pipeline and refinery had still not been started and less than 10% of the staff was Portuguese.[5] An agreement was reached, and export of oil started again, construction of both the pipeline and refinery was started in 1928. On 1 December 1928, the Portuguese government demanded a 15% increase in royalties. When SONAP threatened to stop work on the pipeline and refinery the Portuguese government announced a two-year moratorium on the royalty increase and promised to review the increases if original conditions were met.

In Angola, the primary resource export during the first half of 1920s was diamonds. In 1920 the “Diamang Companhia de Diamantes de Angola”, the Diamang diamond company of Angola, was established. The company employed over 10,000 workers and attracted investment from South Africa. Thousands of settlers from Portugal were brought over and the colonial government expanded the construction of the Benguela railway and the roads to reach the area being mined.

As a result of the discovery of oil in Algarve and diamonds in Angola the Portuguese government spearheaded a country wide and comprehensive geological surveys not only in the Metropolitan Portugal and Angola but throughout the whole country including all colonies starting in 1923.[6] Over the next decade in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea oil, coal, diamonds, gold, gas, bauxite, titanium and several others raw materials were found.

In Angola, the Portuguese government began to extend the railways in order to begin exploiting the resources found. British mining company Rio Tinto won the contract to begin mining Iron Ore which was found in Malanje, Silva Porto, Nova Lisboa, and Sá da Bandeira areas with an agreement to build iron ore processing plant in Angolan coastal city of Moçâmedes to process the iron ore from Angola as well also the iron ore from Goa. In the south the Moçâmedes Railway was extended to Serpa Pinto. While the other two railways were also expanded to the iron ore deposits.

The high hopes for large scale Portuguese development and growth was cut short by the 1929 Stock Market Crash. The Stock market crash and subsequent economic decline reduced demand for oil, iron ore and other minerals. SONAP stopped all construction on the pipeline and refinery to which the Portuguese government threatened to strip the company of all exploration rights. In Angola, Rio Tinto announced the postponement of the Iron Ore plant due to stock market crash and economic downturn.

Industrial Development
Strangling Portuguese development and ability to defend itself was the limited naval shipbuilding capabilities of the country. Portugal had been a naval country for centuries and during age of sail had a large naval shipbuilding program to supply naval and commercial ships for its needs but as the age of steam and metal ships replaced wooden sails hips it had come to rely on foreign shipbuilding companies for much of its shipbuilding needs. This resulted in the country being subject to foreign intervention and cancelation of projects, need for foreign currency to pay for the ships and just as important loss of shipbuilding expertise and jobs for the Portuguese.

To try to alleviate the issue the government founded the LISNAVE shipyard in the Tagus Estuary in 1927 to provide Portugal with capability to produce large merchant and military ships. In 1929 the Viana do Castelo shipyards were established in Northern Portugal to build medium merchant and military ships. These two modern shipyards would in time provide the country with shipbuilding capabilities not found in the country till then.

To provide the steel for these two shipyards as well as other demands for steel in the country two steel plants being started. In 1928 the Siderurgia Nacional (steel plant) was started in both Lisbon and Porto regions to meet the growing need for steel in the Portuguese shipbuilding industry.[7] The Iron ore for these companies was to come from the Iron ore plants in Angola. In 1929 the British company building the Siderurgia steel plants started having financial problems and construction of both plants was halted.

During the Great War the Portuguese Merchant Marine had lost two thirds of its shipping cargo space to German submarines; by 1925 as the trade between Metropolitan Portugal and Ultramar started increasing the shortage in cargo space in the Portuguese Merchant Navy resulted in Portuguese shipping companies greatly increasing their prices. The Portuguese government refused to accept the Portuguese shipping companies price increases and much to the anger of Portuguese companies contracted several foreign companies to provide the much-needed cargo space. While foreign shipping companies were contracted to handle the increase in shipping the Portuguese government was very interested in increasing Portuguese merchant naval cargo capacity. It provided financial support to the Portuguese shipping companies enabling them to order new ships with Portuguese shipyards. During the 1920s orders were placed with Portuguese shipyards for merchant ships, tankers and passenger ships.

Increased trade also spurred the founding of several new maritime transportation companies at this time including the Companhia de Navegação Carregadores Açorianos and Companhia Colonial de Navegação.

Industrialization which till then was almost non-existent in the country began having an enormous physiological impact on the economic development of the country. Entrepreneurs and investors who had in the past felt unwelcome and largely ignored were for the first time openly welcome and became the government’s principle economic proponents. During the 1920s these entrepreneurs and investors started some of the country’s first major industrial companies most notably Grupo Barbot and CIN - Corporação Industrial do Norte both of whom were in the paint and coatings industries. While BIAL became Portugal’s first major pharmaceutical corporation who in 1929 introduced its first medicine benzo-diacol (cough medicine).

[1] Several of the more incompetent and corrupt government workers were referred to police for prosecution. Over the next few years’ government departments’ productivity increased dramatically.
[2] iOTL this area of Algarve has not been surveyed for possible oil and gas. Exploration along the Atlantic coast close to Aljezur was done with some oil found but the company decided not to pursue the discovery.
[3] The area of extraction was estimated from Vila do Bispo in the south to the border with Alentejo and east towards Monchique. How far it went under the ocean was not known at the time.
[4] In 1926, the deep-water port of Sines, south of Lisbon, was chosen for the Portuguese Refinery. Its remoteness and deep-water port made it ideal location for Portugal’s first refinery.
[5] An agreement in 1923 between the British oil companies and Portuguese government had allowed the building of an oil pipeline to the port of Portimão. This pipeline was to be used to export unrefined oil till the new pipeline was built north to the refinery in Sines.
[6] Because of the large scale geological survey in Portuguese Africa from 1925 -1939 many of the resources that in iOTL were only discovered in the 50s to 70s were discovered in the late 20s and 30s.
[7] The establishment of the two Steel plants and large scale modern shipyards in Portugal was decades ahead of iOTL Portugal.

The Economic Situation of the country has started changing due to the discovery of oil some 70 years ahead of iOTL and the willingness to develop the resources resulted in a new way of thinking in the country. Of course its always important to have the right type of person at the helm in these circumstances. Question/ Comments?? Return September 15 as we outline the 2nd part of the economic situation.
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1920s - Economy (Agrilculture, Forestry and Fishing Development, Energy & Infrastructure Development, Economy, Finance and Commerce and GDP)


1920 - 1929 (cont.)

Economy (2 of 2)

Agricultural, Forestry and Fishing Development
Portugal which had struggled since its founding to feed its population had suffered greatly during the World War. Restrictions and economic financial costs had limited Portugal’s ability to import enough food to feed its people and in the 1920s many poor still struggled to feed themselves and their families. Compounding the issue, parts of the Ultramar provinces were suffering drought resulting in starvation and malnutrition of many natives. It was in this environment that the government began the first concerted effort to increase agricultural production in Metropolitan and Ultramar. By 1926 the Portuguese government under the direction of Minister Magalhães Mai, began a massive drive to increase production of wheat, coffee, palm oil, cotton, rice, peanuts, tea and other agricultural products.

In addition to supporting agricultural production the Portuguese government was also concerned with the control of agricultural distribution and the growing food processing industry. During the 1920s several new food processing companies were founded in the country that in the government’s mind began allowing the country to become both self-sufficient as well as in control of its own agricultural production. Several agricultural Portuguese companies such as Superbock, Regina, Tabaqueira SA tobacco and Imperial were founded during the 1920s.

In Metropolitan Portugal, the Portuguese government alongside private land owners joined together to manage and repair the Portuguese forests that were still suffering from the devastation of WWI. During the war when coal imports had stopped many of Portugal’s forests had suffered greatly as individuals burnt down trees to make charcoal.

In the 1920s production of salt in the country increased to support the transportation and conservation of both meat and fish to the major cities as the increased economic conditions led to an increase demand for both.

Energy & Infrastructure Development
The discovery of electricity had resulted in major changes throughout the world as a new source of power and lighting. In Portugal like many other parts of the world, electricity due to its costs was limited to only the wealthy and major companies and even then, only available in Portuguese major cities. Most of the country’s electricity was generated by Thermal Hydro Electric power plants that were powered by imported coal since the country lacked any substantial coal deposits. Lisbon’s electricity was provided by the Tejo Power Station operated by United Gas and Electric Companies.

In 1924 the Thermal Hydro Electric power plants in Portugal underwent major expansion due to increased demand for electricity in Portugal’s major cities. The Tejo Power Station underwent expansion to double its production. Thermal Power Plants in or close to other major cities in Portugal were constructed or planned. The increased demand for coal both for industry and energy led the Portuguese government to begin exploring sources for coal.[1] In 1928 several Portuguese companies received authorization to construct and operate several Hydro Electric dams in Portugal.[2]

In 1922 Teixeira Duarte, S.A was formed and in the following decades became one of the country’s leading engineering, construction companies involved in construction of hydro dams, factories and many new buildings.

The expansion of rail transportation on the Iberian Peninsula continued; from 1921 to 1929 over 60 rail stations, platforms and rail stops as well as 15 railway bridges were built. In addition, over a dozen locomotives began operating to service the growing passenger and cargo needs.

Economic, Finance and Commerce
From 1923 onward, the number of people employed in Portugal increased on average of over 5% a year, as resources, farming, factories, construction and retail activity all grew. Portuguese companies either started or expanded hiring employees to meet growing demand. In the Ultramar provinces shortage of skilled workers as well as regular workers continued to plague many projects and companies were hesitant to use Africans for anything more than basic manual jobs.

In 1924 Portugal and UK agreed to a repayment schedule of the Portuguese external national debt (most of which had been accumulated to finance Portugal’s participation in WWI) in equal payments until 1966. At end of decade Portugal government debt as a percentage of GDP had reduced from 83% to 51% of GDP but more importantly Portuguese foreign currency reserves had grown fivefold. The Portuguese escudo to Stirling exchange rate also improved for first time since WWI, and by 1929 the Portuguese escudo to Stirling had improved to 16.236:1.

In 1924 the Bank of Portugal was nationalized and Guilherme Luizello Alves Moreira, the director of Caixa Geral de Depositos was appointed as governor of the Bank of Portugal. The Bank of Portugal role as the only issuer of Portuguese escudo currency was confirmed, while Banco Ultramar continued to be the issuer of all the different Ultramar currencies. In 1928 the separate Azorean Real and Madeira Real currencies that had existed in these two island groups since 19th century was replaced by the Portuguese escudo.

Political stability and economic growth spurred retail and commerce growth in cities as well as in many rural areas. Growing jobs in many new industries and infrastructure spurred migration of thousands of people from the rural areas to the growing cities and towns which in turn increased demand for housing leading to a spike in rents in most major cities.

In 1920, the Portuguese GDP reached 7,411 over the next 10 years it increased by over 92%. The Portuguese economy witnessed rapid economic growth as the optimism regarding the country’s future grew. During the 1920s the Portuguese economy grew as follows:

[1] See 1920 – 1929 section Economy, Oil & Mineral Development
[2] The list of dams constructed is as follows: On the River Nisa the Povoa and Polo dams, on the Varosa River the Varosa dam, and on the Ave River the Guilhofrei dam.
[3] iOTL Portugal GDP in 1929 was 10,789 and the growth for the decade was just over 43%.

The last two posts have provided both a detailed explanation of the dire Economic Situation of the country and the start of economic reforms and widespread. These changes were in many ways possible due to correct person at the helm of the economy, and in large part possible due to discovery of oil in Algarve which spurred Portuguese dreams. Question/ Comments?? Return September 30 as we discuss two separate sections: Health & Education as well as Security.
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1920s - Health and Education


1920 - 1929 (cont.)

Health and Education

One the government’s priorities were the high illiteracy and lack of educational institutions in the country which limited the country’s growth potential and development. While Prime Minister Salazar acknowledged the need to increase the country’s literacy and higher learning he was of the opinion that the current system was adequate, albeit with some tweaking, but like several major development issues he was overruled by the other two ministers in the triumvirate.

Education like economic development and security became major government priority and in 1926 José Alfredo Mendes de Magalhães was appointed as Minister of Education. Under his leadership the department made strides to increase education in Portugal. The Lisbon Primary Education School (Escola do Magisterio Primario de Lisboa) was founded to train elementary school teachers. The Technical University of Lisbon (Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa) was founded with courses in veterinary medicine, agricultural sciences, economics and business administration, engineering amongst others. He also promoted the founding of Santarem Agricultural School (Escola de Regentes Agricolas de Santarem). The number of primary and secondary schools in Portugal (Metropolitan and Ultramar) grew every year. In 1929 the Portuguese government began a review of the state of the three universities in Portugal (Porto, Coimbra and Lisbon) to determine what subjects were required for a modern nation. Literacy levels in children aged 7 to 14 registered a modest increase from 35 per cent in 1920 to 45 per cent in 1929.

Most importantly was the government’s and Minister of Education promoting the importance of Lisbon Science Academy (Academia das Ciências de Lisboa) as a place of research. Special emphasis was placed on developing technologies and promoting science in Portugal. The academy was also entrusted in agricultural research who together with agriculture faculties of the Portuguese universities were to provide the country with knowledge and ability to increase yields and production.

In terms of health care the country too faced many challenges. The number of doctors and medical professionals lagged behind other European countries. Adding to the health problems was the growing population of Lisbon and Porto metro areas as thousands of rural Portuguese migrated from the rural areas searching for jobs in the new industries and factories. While the growth of the cities’ population resulted in a building boom with many new buildings being constructed thousands of the poorest were living in “shanty towns’ temporary housing without basic water and sewer adding to the health problems of the country.
The state of the Education system in the country reflected the lack of opportunities and poverty in the country. Added to that the general feeling by some of the church hierarchy and those in power that education was not a priority and the soul was the most important. The establishment of the republic in 1910 did little to address the education deficiencies. As for Health the lack of medical staff and facilities plus health of the population was a representation of the lack of development in the country. Question/ Comments??
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1920s - Security


1920 - 1929 (cont.)


In 1920, the overthrow of the Republic and establishment of military dictatorship resulted in the re-establishment of security in Lisbon and Portugal. That year Lisbon suffered only 10 bombings down from 50 the previous year and in 1921 only two bombings occurred and none the years after.

From 1924 to 1929 Portugal witnessed continuous political stability and economic growth. After more than a decade of anarchy and economic decline the Portuguese people were for most part willing to accept the authoritarian government in exchange for increased security and economic growth. Plots against the government and arrests slowly decreased as economic growth and stability strengthened the economy and people’s satisfaction increased.

The government’s heavy hand and major arrests was supported by majority of the public who were tired of the anarchy of the Republic. Many publications against the Carmona government were closed such as the periodic magazine “Batalha” in 1923.

In 1924 Armando Humberto da Gama Ochôa was appointed as the new Minister of Interior, and under his leadership the Portuguese government began an expand its vigilance of subversive individuals. The Portuguese government attempted to convince moderate labor, business and political people to support the government or at least not oppose it. While it pursued radical, communist, anarchist individuals and arrested them. At first many of these prisoners were kept in Portuguese prisons but they were found to be disruptive and in 1929 the Portuguese government began construction Tarrafal prison in Cape Verde to house the political prisoners away from the regular prisoner population.

The last military revolt of the 20s against the government was “Fifis Revolt (Revolta dos Fifis). On 12 August 1927, the captains of the frigates “Filomeno da Câmara de Melo Cabral” and “Fidelino de Sousa Figueiredo” led their ships crews against the government. The rest of the naval ships trapped the two ships in Lisbon port and the two captains along with the crew surrendered.

Internal Migration
In 1920 the number of Portuguese Europeans in Africa was 29,000 with the majority 21,000 living in Angola. The increased economic activity in Ultramar provinces during the middle to late 1920s led to an increase in migration from Metropolitan Portugal to Ultramar provinces. In 1929 the number of Portuguese Europeans living in Ultramar provinces had jumped to 65,000 of which 50,000 lived in Angola.

Portuguese emigration
Emigration from Portugal to Brazil and other countries fell for first time as increased economic activity in Portugal and stronger demand for workers in Portuguese Africa reduced the incentive to leave country. During the decade the level of emigration had dropped from just over 18,000 to in 1920 to just over 8,000 a year in 1929.
The security situation in the country improved greatly in comparison with the anarchy of the Republic, this coupled with economic growth provided the government with a lot of slack in maintaining order. As for emigration/migration the economic growth had a dual positive affect for the population with greater number of individuals and families finding employment in the country as opposed to having to leave. Question/ Comments?? Return October 14 as we discuss the last sections of the 1920s.
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1920s - Culture and Sports


1920 - 1929 (cont.)

Culture and Sports

On 15 January 1929 António Joaquim Tavares Ferro was appointed as the country’s first National Information Secretary (Secretariado Nacional de Informação). His mission was to use existing and new communication means to provide an informed government narrative message to the people and to also promote Portuguese culture.

The primary means of communication at the time was the newspapers and his department increased their vigilance and control of the information being reported. He also began using radio medium as a new tool. The recent founded Portuguese radio station “Rádio Clube Português” that had been founded in 1928 proved an ideal means of providing information as well as to promote the country’s and government’s achievements. In 1929, the Emissora Nacional de Radiodifusão (ENR) was established with the aim of expanding radio transmission throughout the country.

In 1929 the Ministry began promoting and supporting Portuguese movies which till then had averaged two a year. That same year four movies were produced and to promote and support Portuguese cinema the company Tobis Portuguesa was founded.

In 1920 Portugal participated in the VII Olympic Games in Antwerp Belgium. Portugal sent a delegation of 13 athletes but did not achieve any medals.

In 1924 Portugal participated in the VIII Olympic Games in Paris France. Portugal sent a delegation of 30 athletes and won a bronze medal in Equestrian event.

In 1928 Portugal participated in the IX Olympic Games in Amsterdam Netherlands. Portugal sent a delegation of 31 athletes and won a bronze medal in Fencing.

In 1927 the first edition of the Tour of Portugal (Volta a Portugal) was held.

During the 20s the number of soccer clubs in Portugal continued to grow and in 1925 the Premier league was founded with eight teams.
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1920s - Foreign Affairs


1920 - 1929 (cont.)

Foreign Affairs

After WWI the number of failed governments, anarchy and political assassinations led Portugal to become the poster boy for failed democracies and anarchy in Europe. Following the overthrow of the Republic as the security in Lisbon and Portugal as a whole improved and its finances continually improved with increased trade and resource development under the dictatorship, Europe’s attitude regarding Portugal slowly changed for the better.

The 1920s was a period of transition for Portugal; it established diplomatic relationships with several new countries in Eastern Europe that had become independent following the war and recognized Irish independence in 1929. It was also a period of reinforcing historical relationships such as with UK and Brazil. In 1922 Portugal participated in Brazil centenary celebrations and was a participant in the Rio de Janeiro world Expo. In conjunction with the centenary celebrations the first air crossing of the Southern Atlantic Ocean was successfully accomplished by Portuguese aviator pioneers. From March to April of 1922 Portuguese naval officers and aviation pioneers Gago Coutinho e Sacadura Cabral were the first to fly from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro.

Diagram celebrating Gago Coutinho e Sacadura Cabral route from Portugal to Brazil
Special Note was the Portuguese attempt to compare past great explorers to present explorers
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1920s - World


1920 - 1929 (cont.)


In 1920 the League of Nations which Portugal was a founding member began operating, its primary role was to promote peace and provide a mechanism to resolve conflicts and war. The major issue with the League though was that it lacked its own armed force and depended on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, keep to its economic sanctions, or provide an army when needed. However, the Great Powers were often reluctant to do so. Sanctions could hurt League members, so they were reluctant to comply with them. During the 1920s the League was able to resolve several conflicts but only if both parties wished to adhere to the League’s mechanism to resolve conflicts and disputes.

From 1920 to 1921 Poland and Soviet Russia fought in the Polish Soviet War. The war ended with Poland victory and Soviet Russia ceding large part of its western border to Poland.

In 1922 Ireland achieved independence from UK but remained in the British Empire. Conflicts between Protestant and Catholics and as well as those wishing to establish an independent Irish republic led to the Irish civil war in 1922 -1923. In 1923, an independent Republic of Ireland was established and Northern Ireland where most of the Protestant Irish lived stayed part of UK.

In 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union) was created with the unification of the various Communist republics of the former Russian Empire.

In 1922 Benito Mussolini leader of the National Fascist Party became Prime Minister of Italy, shortly thereafter creating what many in the world consider the world's first fascist government.[1] The Fascist regime establishes a totalitarian state led by Mussolini as a dictator. The Fascist regime restored good relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Italy with the Lateran Treaty, which created the Vatican City. The Fascist regime pursued an aggressive expansionist agenda in Europe such as raiding the Greek island of Corfu in 1923, pressuring Albania to submit to becoming a de facto Italian protectorate in the mid-1920s and holding territorial aims on the region of Dalmatia in Yugoslavia.

In Germany, the Weimar Republic suffered from economic crisis in the early 1920s and hyperinflation of currency in 1923. From 1923 to 1925 the Occupation of the Ruhr took place. The Ruhr was an industrial region of Germany taken over by the military forces of the French Third Republic and Belgium, in response to the failure of the Weimar Republic under Chancellor Wilhelm Cuno to keep paying the World War I reparations. The recently formed fringe National Socialist German Workers’ Party (a.k.a. Nazi Party) led by Adolf Hitler attempted a coup against the Bavarian and German governments in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, which failed, resulting in Hitler being briefly imprisoned for one year where he wrote Mein Kampf.

The Turkish War of Independence was fought from 1919 to 1923. Several countries namely Armenia, Greece, Italy and France were also involved. The result was the formation of Republic of Turkey and the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Anatolia and Eastern Thrace. Armenia requested protection from Soviet Union and thousands of Greeks fleeing Anatolia and Eastern Thrace.

In 1922 Egypt became an independent country although still under British diplomatic and military influence.

In 1922 Brazil celebrated in 1st centenary celebration, it hosted the 1922 World Expo in Rio de Janeiro in which Portugal was one of exhibitors.

In the US, the Prohibition of alcohol became effective as of 17 January 1920, and it continued throughout the 1920s. This led to Organized crime turning to smuggling and bootlegging of liquor. In 1924 the Immigration Act of 1924 placed restrictions on immigration. National quotas curbed most Eastern and Southern European nationalities immigrants including Portugal, as well as further enforced the ban on immigration of East Asians, Indians and Africans, and put mild regulations on nationalities from the Western Hemisphere (Latin Americans).

In 1927 the Chinese Civil war started between Communist Chinese and Nationalist Forces.

[1] There are those who argue that the seizure of Portuguese government in 1920 and the election of President Carmona as the world 1st Fascist government. Portuguese historians have always pointed out that Portuguese government while sharing some similarities with Fascist governments has always been associated as Nationalistic not as Fascist.
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The last three posts finish off the 1920s. Overall Portugal was in a very precarious position. With hardly any industry and majority of its population illiterate. iOTL the Portuguese would continue suffering along with little industrial development and only slight improvement in the modernization of the country. iTTL the earlier overthrow of the Republic and the discovery of oil which would translate in time to economic development began the divergence of the country and its people. While at times the 1920s sections have been scant in information and detail their purpose was to provide readers with a basepoint in which they can base future development and changes to in subsequent decades. Question/ Comments??

Return October 28 as we begin the 1930s. It was a time of intrigue, changes throughout the country and development. Outside the Portuguese borders we would witness the Spanish civil war, rise of Nazism in Germany and eventual march towards war all things that weighed on Portuguese minds. Internally of special interest in Portuguese nationalism and both its people and government attempt to chart an independent path for themselves.
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Annex Galicia?
While it may sound very tempting the Portuguese would first demand Olivença but would not turn their noses at Galicia. Having said that the Spanish civil war would need to change a great deal for the Portuguese to even think of that. For the threat of communist government in Madrid scared the Portuguese government so much it who heartedly supported Franco and nationalists. This is both iOTL and iTTL for those facts are not going to change. Also in 1930s the Portuguese be no shape to challenge the Spanish forces.


1930 – 1939

The 1930s was dominated by an economic downfall called the Great Depression that had a traumatic effect worldwide, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty. The Great Depression came about as a result of the Wall Street Crash of 1929; the largest stock market crash in American history, but it was aggravated by government policies and actions that exasperated the economic conditions and resulted in the wide spread unemployment, poverty and worsening political stability and rights throughout most of the world.

The weakening of both states and desperation of thousands of people would see the emergence and strengthening of authoritarian regimes emerging in several countries in Europe and South America, in particular the Third Reich in Germany. These authoritarian regimes unsatisfied with power within their own borders sought out to conquer weaker states such as Ethiopia, China, and Poland. The great powers (Britain and France) occupied with their own political and economic situation ignored the aggression by authoritarian regimes for most of the decade until the last few years when they finally realized they could no longer ignore the situation and sought ways to contain the aggression. Failure in the two powers in stopping the aggression plunged Europe and eventually the world into war due to Germany’s unstoppable aggression with the invasion of Poland a few months before the end of the decade.

The 1930s also saw a proliferation of new technologies, especially in the fields of intercontinental aviation, radio, and film.

In Portugal, the 1930s were characterized by the economic development of Portugal while at same time it was embargoed by UK; Portugal left the Sterling area and the Portuguese escudo became pegged to US dollar. On the economic front, Portugal was able to use its oil and resource wealth to trade with other countries such as Argentina and Brazil as well as Germany.

Industrial development got its first starts with the construction of Iron Ore plants, steel mills and oil refinery leading to a continued economic growth in the country and rising employment, while so many other countries continued to be plagued by economic depression and worse war.

The 1930s was also characterized by the constant political rivalry between the Prime Minister, Antonio Salazar and the two other ministers Minister of Economy and Finance and Minister of Defense. The two ministers educated in UK and US were considered the Anglicized ministers who advocated industrial development and modernization while the Prime Minister idealized an agrarian society governed by an elite group of individuals. By 1936 the political rivalry had become a political seesaw battle for control of the country resulting in major changes to the government.

The historical information on Portugal and the major events impacting the country are presented in the following sections:
The sections above will be linked to the appropriate posts as they are published.

Edit: spelling correction.

Edit: Added the links to all the 1930s sections
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1930s - Politics (1 of 3)


1930 – 1939 (cont.)

Politics (1 of 3)

The 1930s politically in Portugal was dominated by several major issues: i) the 1930 revolt and resulting fallout ii) the political intrigue between Prime Minister Salazar and both Minister of Defense and Minister of Finance and Economy and iii) the Spanish Civil War.

1930 Revolt
On 1 February 1930, a military mutiny took place in Portugal against the government of President Carmona. Military units in Madeira, Algarve, Castelo Branco, Porto and Ultramar (Angola and Mozambique) revolted against the government with many Republic politicians joining the revolt. Unfortunately for the rebels there was no public support for the revolt and by the end of February units loyal to the government had defeated all the rebel units except those on the island of Madeira.

On the island of Madeira, the revolt received civilian support including several Republic politicians living there in exile. The rebels gained control of island and Portugal afraid of foreign intervention as well as threats by the rebels to create "Republic of Atlantic" scrambled to gain control of the island. The major problem facing Portugal was that it would require an amphibious assault and they lacked amphibious ships so the Portuguese navy under the command of Admiral João Semedo improvised.

The Portuguese government assembled a flotilla of merchant and fishing vessels urgently fitted for naval service. A cargo ship was also converted to a seaplane carrier named “Cubango”. The taskforce was supported by 2 auxiliary cruisers, 2 transport ships to transport the landing force, 4 naval trawlers, the cruiser Vasco da Gama, a destroyer and 3 gunships. In addition, 4 CAMS 37 flying boats were assigned to the Cubango. On 30 March, the Portuguese naval task force reached Madeira Island. The air support provided by the flying boats flying from Cubango was crucial to the success of landings and the advance of the government forces. After few days of combat the rebels ceased resistance on 2 April 1930 and the government forces were in full control of the island.

Portugal – UK estrangement and growing German friendship
Following the collapse of the revolt and the arrest of the military and political rebels it became obvious from the documents captured as well as interrogations that money and organization for the revolt had in large part come from outside the country. On 30 July 1930 President Carmona accused the British oil and mining companies of instigating the revolt in hopes of receiving royalty and tax concessions from the new government. That same day Portuguese police raided the Portuguese offices of the oil and mining companies. In those offices, several documents were found linking not only the companies to the attempted coup, but also members of the British embassy in Lisbon were also implicated. When news of the discovery was published the Portuguese in the city of Lisbon responded in anger and demonstrated in front of the British Embassy. The daily demonstrations in front of the British Embassy grew larger and louder with many throwing objects at the embassy, forcing it to close its doors to the public. After a month of no response from the British the Portuguese government requested the British Ambassador leave Lisbon and withdrew its ambassador from London in protest on 1 September 1930.

In Great Britain, news of British diplomats and business men openly plotting against Britain’s oldest ally rocked the government of James Ramsay MacDonald. Matters grew increasingly worse for the government when several documents were leaked to the press providing proof that the Prime Minister’s office itself had been involved in the attempted coup. The Portuguese attempted coup added to the increasing pressures on the government and demands for the Prime Minister’s resignation grew louder, and the government’s enemies renewed their attacks. On 1 December 1930, the British government fell, and new elections were called.

In Portugal, on 20 December 1930 the Portuguese government charged the British companies as instigators of the insurrection and stripped them of their explorations rights and nationalized their assets in the country and Ultramar provinces. The new British government of Stanley Baldwin responded to the Portuguese actions by freezing all Portuguese assets in UK as well suspending all trade with Portugal. It was their hope to force the Portuguese government to re-instate the British companies in Portugal and forget about the incident but both President Carmona and Primer Minister Salazar still smarting from the British action refused to back down. The Portuguese government faced a very difficult diplomatic situation and Portuguese position in the world was at risk with the British against them, but Minister Mai simply brushed off the British threat and decided to play it to Portugal’s advantage. For financial support, he turned to the US instead of Europe to borrow and with Portugal’s current account surplus on his side he was able to get favorable interest rates from US banks which he used to not only finance new government infrastructure expenditures but also to repay in full all outstanding UK loans. In addition he moved the Portuguese escudo from the Stirling zone to the US dollar. This was a huge shock to the British who saw Portugal venture out on its own instead of buckling under their demands.

Minister Mai then used Portugal’s resources as well as the general world economic depression to Portugal’s advantage. He negotiated several large barter trade deals with both Brazil and Argentina for their agricultural products such as wheat, corn, beef and lentils in return for Portuguese oil thus saving all three countries need for hard foreign currency. He also turned to the rest of Europe more specifically Germany for manufactured goods but more importantly economic partners in developing Portuguese resources. Armindo Monteiro was sent to Germany as the Portuguese Economic Ambassador to negotiate with some of Germany’s largest and most powerful corporations. From 1931 to 1937 from his office in Hamburg Armindo Monteiro not only facilitated the negotiations and agreements with oil and resource companies but also with some of Germany’s largest industrial companies regarding setting up joint ventures in Portugal.

Portugal – Germany Economic Alliance and Political Uneasiness
From 1932 to 1936 Portuguese – German economic and political friendship grew especially following with the Nazi takeover of the German government. Trade between the two countries grew every year with half the trade being barter system. German companies became major players in Portuguese oil, resource development and industrialization. The German companies’ investment in Portugal spurred the first major industrialization in the country and Portuguese economic development became tied to German industry. The collaboration between Portugal and Germany extended to other areas such as security and military cooperation. Portuguese security forces especially PVDE as well as Portuguese armed forces benefitted from German advisors who came to Portugal to assist in subversive identification military command structure was modernized along German model. Relations between the two countries was very cordial with all three members of the Triumvirate visiting Germany at various times from 1934 to 1935.

Then in 1936 two major events strained the relationship; the implementation of Nazi anti-Semitic policies which made the Portuguese government uneasy, meanwhile the Nazi German government became angry at Portugal’s granting German Jews citizenship and residency in Portugal.[1] This caused major friction with Nazi Germany, but the Portuguese government advised German Ambassador in Lisbon that Portugal did not tell the German government what to do in Germany therefore the German government could not tell the Portuguese government what to do in Portugal. Secondly was the support that German Embassy provided to Prime Minister Salazar in his attempted coup of the Portuguese government.[2]

Portugal – UK renewed friendship
In 1934, the British and Portuguese re-opened their embassies again and exchanged ambassadors and for next two years the two governments held low level talks. On 5 September 1936 Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary visited Lisbon.[3] While in Lisbon Sir Anthony Eden met with President Carmona and the Prime Minister regarding British and Portuguese relationship, the visit paved the way for the Portugal – UK Cooperation Agreement of 1936. The agreement was negotiated between October and December 1936 and signed by both governments at ceremony in London on 22 December 1936. The agreement had the following major points:
  • Renewal of Anglo - Portuguese Alliance;
  • Portugal agreed to repay British companies who had assets seized in Portugal the value of their initial investment;[4]
  • Removal of all restrictions on trade, investment and financial transactions between the two countries. Included in the agreement was authorization for assistance in naval and machinery technology from UK to Portugal and the ability for UK companies to either directly invest in Portugal or through joint ventures;
  • UK to provide Portugal with assistance in upgrading its armed forces including the purchase of naval ships and army vehicles and supplies;
The German government especially its leader Adolf Hitler responded angrily to the new Portuguese – British agreement, which they considered to be a reneging on the part of the Portuguese on their agreement with them. The Portuguese Ambassador in Berlin, Veiga Simões, personally assured German Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath that Portugal was not turning its back on Germany but wanted to continue trading and have good relations with all countries.


[1] See 1930 -1939 Security, Immigration section.

[2] See 1930 -1939 Politics, Political Intrigue

[3] The British government of Stanley Baldwin was worried regarding the recent events in the previous year such as the Italo-Abyssinian War, German occupation of Rhineland and the ongoing Spanish Civil war but most importantly was the continuing Portuguese – German friendship including what they saw as most troubling the growing number of German military advisors in Portugal. While some of the more hawkish in the British government still resented Portuguese actions both Stanley Baldwin and Anthony Eden felt it necessary to provide Portuguese with a counter influence to offset the growing German power and influence in Portugal. In July 1936 British Ambassador in Lisbon, Sir Charles Wingfield wrote to London that due to recent government changes following attempted coup the new Portuguese government was greatly upset over continuing Nazi anti-semantic actions in Nazi Germany and that Portuguese – German relationship was at its lowest point since Nazi had come to power in Germany.

[4] The British originally demanded that British companies be compensated for full value of their assets as well as compensated for loss of profit. The Portuguese countered with the demand that the British companies pay for half of the costs the government incurred during the 1930 Revolt plus half of the damage caused by revolt. The compromise was for British companies to receive back their initial investment.

It is really nice when history provides us with situations that can be extrapolated and fit our narrative. The 1930 revolt happened in iOTL just not as extensive. But yes they did capture Madeira island and Portugal assembled a flotilla to recapture the island just like iTTL. The government did not find any external source of support for it iOTL but we could of seen the similar outcome had the economic and resources been discovered.

Please return November 11 for part 2 of the politics, as we deal with political intrigue.

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The historical information on Portugal and the major events impacting the country are presented in the following sections:
  • Politics
  • Portuguese Armed Forces
  • Economy
  • Health and Education
  • Security
  • Culture and Education
  • Security
  • Culture and Sports
  • Foreign Affairs
  • World
The sections above will be linked to the appropriate posts as they are published.
Is that intended?


Would German Jews finally find a receptive safe heaven in Portugal? That's huge if indeed the case.
IOTL provides us with many information. Salazar was very upset regarding the Nuremberg laws against the Jews and actually instructed Portuguese diplomats to defend any Portuguese citizen including Jews in Germany. During war Portugal was one of few gateways for refugees coming out of Nazi occupied Germany with several Portuguese diplomats providing assistance to those fleeing.

So we will see not only the same but an enhanced version. Detail to be provided in incoming posts.

Isreal and Portuguese federation friendship and alliance stem from those first actions towards the Jews in the 1930s.

Is that intended?

Thanks corrected.


Good to see Portugal preparing the way to help Jews if and when TTL ww2 comes.
It does turn out that way but it was desperation that led the country down that path in the 1930s. It was estimated that between 30-50,000 Jews came through Portugal escaping the Nazis. While Salazar did nothing to stop the Jews he also directed the government to be neutral for fear it would irate the Nazi. While many in America criticized the Portuguese from profiteering from the plight of the Jews, but I find it very hypocritical for those protected by huge ocean to criticize the Portuguese government who at any time expected to either be attacked and/or invaded by the Nazi or Americans, but that will be a topic for another day.