Objects and narratives of uncertain times…
Objects of the Exile
Upon arriving in Amsterdam with 19 years old, Carlos Neves bought this set of chess and checkers with the little money he had. In Portugal, he was a member of a cinema club and played with other enthusiasts. He didn’t let the exile take away his pleasure and, today, he keeps memories in these two boxes.
Newspaper “O Alarme!..”
A copy of the newspaper “O Alarme!..! that integrates Joaquim Saraiva archive.
“O Alarme!..!, written and and produced in Grenoble between 1972 and 1974, and until 1975 in Paris.
It was a popular journal that reported what was happening in Portugal but also among the Portuguese communities in France and Europe. It was sold all over Europe in markets and other places, and distributed illegally in Portugal. It reached a print run of 1.000 copies. Its director was Jean Paul Sartre. In this edition, dated from February 1973, the assassination of Amílcar Cabral was denounced along with the Portuguese government’s repression of the struggles for the determination of its former colonies.
In August 1973, a newspaper article of “O Alarme!..” enlightened its readers on the contraceptive pill. Through the section “A group of women writes”, the journal is used to inform Portuguese emigrant women.
In October 1973, the same section continued to raise awareness on contraceptive methods
The Importance of Protest Songs
From the 1960s onwards, protest folk song assumed a leading role in the artistic expression of the fight against fascism. It manifested the revolt, the fear and oppression; it denounced and rejected fascism and repression, it exposed exploitation and the colonial war. Musicians like José Afonso, Adriano Correia de Oliveira, Manuel Freire, Fausto, Padre Fanhais or Júlio Pereira, are a few examples. Other were forced to leave Portugal, José Mário Branco, Sérgio Godinho, Luís Cília and Tino Flores, victims of fascism, persecuted, targets of a heavy censorship. They had prison as their destination. From the Carlos Neves album collection, we prepared a small playlist of protest songs that were listened to in Portugal and abroad, stirring the revolutionary spirit through songs that validated and extolled the freedom of those who listened.
Objects of the Exile
These sheets belong to Carlos Neves who tells us they were “requested” to the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam: “They had many and I and many comrades had need. We slept in shades of yellow.”
Documents of the Exile
This passport belongs to Joaquim Saraiva who went into exile in Denmark, after a first attempt in Sweden. It shows us the paths of the Portuguese exile and the difficulties encountered along the way.
Having left Portugal in 1970, Joaquim crossed the border in Vilar Formoso by “salto” [jump], having managed to reach Paris, where a contact handed him a false passport in order to get to Sweden via Copenhagen. Due to an agreement among the Nordic states that established that the asylum requests should be submitted in the country of the exile’s arrival, his asylum in Sweden was denied, and he had to re-request it to Denmark.
Deserting with Guns
“Original drawings of agitation and propaganda about the desertion, published in several journals of the illegal underground press. It was a very simple technique of illustration, usually with Indian ink or a thin black marker pen upon white paper. These illustrations were afterwards photographed with a fine grain and low sensibility film – 25 ASA – in order to produce orthochromatic photographic places (unsensitive to red light, which allowed an easier lab word). Those plates were meant for offset prints or printmaking.” Fernando Cardoso, former exile in Paris.
Hélder Costa: “No to colonial war”
“- Desertion? Are you crazy? What if they catch you?
– Son, don’t break by heart. What will they say about you! That you’re a traitor, that you’re a coward that doesn’t defend the homeland.
– Mom, what are you talking about? Those bandits don’t defend any homeland. They defend their business and the lands they stole (…)
– If you desert, I will never see you again.
– What if I die in the war?
– God will help you, He will listen to my prayers.
Being a deserter, making the decision to flee to France or another country, changing one’s life and mindset, became the dominant decision. One that spread rapidly among all social classes when the unfolding of the war caused resentment and grief in thousands of families due to death or physical disability of their most loved ones.
– It’s set, we are leaving. There are lots of people already there who can help us. And our children will not suffer the misfortune of dying in war and leaving their parents helplessly”
Such movement of rejection and refugee in other countries reached massive numbers: around 3 millions of Portuguese scattered all over Europe and in Paris alone more than one million, which made it the second biggest Portuguese city, after Lisbon. Of this total of emigrants, around 100 000 would be deserters.” (AAVV, 2016, Exílios. Testemunhos de exilados e desertores portugueses na Europa (1961/1974), Vol. 1, Lisbon: AEP 61-74, p.26)
Anticolonial posters produced in the Netherlands by Manuel Dias “Capote” in the early 1970s in the scope of a supporting initiation dedicated to the Portuguese refugees. They are incorporated in Rui Mota archive, a former exile in Amsterdam and a member of Aep61-74 Associação de Exilados Políticos Portugueses. Although these posters were produced before the foundation of a Deserters Committee in the Netherlands, several anticolonial and anti-war demonstrations were organised by the different committees and association that supported the exiles beyond the Portuguese borders.
Founded in Paris, 1970, by Hélder Costa, a member of AEP 61-74 – Associação de Exilados Políticos Portugueses and a former exile in Paris, the Workers Theatre operated with several groups in France and in Europe, spreading anticolonial war messages with plays such as “O Soldado” [The Soldier], and the revolt of “18 de Janeiro de 1934” [18 of January of 1934] in Marinha Grande.
This play booklet “Todos unidos na luta venceremos” [United in the struggle, we stand], written and performed by the Associação Franco-Portuguesa de Grenoble [French-Portuguese Association of Grenoble], remits to theatre as a place of union and solidarity among people who sought for familiarity bonds outside their country, as well as for protest expressions and joint initiatives.
Documents of the Exile
Not only the “salto” [jump] to leave Portugal was a high risk moment for those that chose the path of exile, so was coming back to the country.
This french identity card belongs to Fernando Cardoso, member of AEP61-74 – Associação de Exilados Políticos Portugueses and former exile in France.
Counterfeit in 1974 to enter in Portugal, we can read in it the name Jean Henri Almeras, born in Herault, France.
“The creation of Deserters and Refugees’ committees in several European countries was of chief importance for the development of an antifascist and anticolonial struggle outside the country and exert pressure towards the recognition of the rights of workers, exiles and deserters in these new host countries” (AAVV, 2016, Exílios. Testemunhos de exilados e desertores portugueses na Europa (1961/1974), Vol. 1, Lisbon: AEP 61-74, p.92)
Documents of the Exile
“With Civitas Academica cards, school years were falsified in order to obtain the International Student Card”, recounted Carlos Neves, a former Portuguese exile in the Netherlands and member of AEP 61-74 Associação de Exilados Políticos Portugueses, on this document that que keeps in his archive. Also in 1973, Joaquim Saraiva made use of the same kind of document to obtain the International Student Card in Denmark. These documents gave them the statute of exiled students.
Anticolonial protest Committees
Created in the Netherland in 1961 by leaders like Sietse Borsga and Trineke Weijdema, the Angola Committee [Angola Committee] mission was the fight for the self-determination of the former Portuguese colonies in Africa. It was the main supporting entity in the mobilization and organization of the ulterior Comité de Refugiados Portugueses na Holanda [Portuguese Refugees Committee in the Netherlands], created in 1972. “My first contact with the Comité Angola goes back to 1967, a few months after my arrival at the Netherlands (November 1966). By then, the Portuguese living in Amsterdam were still few and personal relationships were reduced to two or three long-term friends, who had left Portugal for the same reasons, the rejection of colonial war” – recalls Rui Mota, a former exile in the Netherlands and member of AEP 61-74.
Places of the exile
In Paris, at 15 Rue du Moulinet, there was a house that sheltered several Portuguese exiles and draft evaders in the 1970s. Fernando Cardoso, a former exile in Paris and member of AEP 61-74 remembers: “A shelter, a community house, a house of solidarity, a committee house. In the 1970s, many deserters, political exiles or peoples opposing the colonial war spent time and/or stayed in this house. The n.15, owned by the friend Thérèse, a woman that sympathised with the Portuguese cause, was a house with a tiny secret ground room, a beautiful kitchen and two rooms on the first floor and, above, a bathroom and a broad room with a balcony. The centre of the house was the kitchen with a large family table surmounted by a fruit basket attached with a string on the access stairs to the upper floor. Under that staircase a bed welcomed those who were not scheduled, people on the night shift or a case of overbooking”. In AAVV, 2016, Exílios. Testemunhos de exilados e desertores portugueses na Europa (1961/1974), Vol. 1, Lisbon: AEP 61-74, p.69.