I'm researching Lisbon, 1941, for a historical novel. I've searched for info on the web already, and so far found nothing specific.

I need to know if there was a German embassy: thus, other than German secret agents and spies, what Germans might have been roaming about among the Jewish refugees in the cafes?

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    You might want to research the life of Juan Pujol García, a double agent who starting in 1940 sent false information to Hitler precisely using the German embassy in Lisbon (and the one in Madrid, too, occasionally) Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 17:40
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    In July [1944], the German Embassy in Lisbon began complaining in telegrams to Berlin that the gold price in Lisbon was dropping. Berlin responded by asking if this was a result of the sales by the couriers or sales by the Weiss family, which it suspected of bringing valuables from Hungary. Members of the Weiss family have said they brought no gold to Lisbon. ''Why was this gold coming here and why did the couriers not sell the German gold to the central bank?'' Mr. Louca said. - nytimes.com/1997/01/10/world/…
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 6:30
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    Sadly, Marx’s effort did not work. In a terse letter dated April 17, 1941, Fish replied that the “Portuguese Foreign Office will not accept interventions from this legation for other than American nationals.” Normally, Fish wrote, he would work with the German embassy in Lisbon for the case of a German national like Schickler, but that given the circumstances, approaching his German counterparts would “be improper.” - forward.com/culture/482025/…
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 6:35
  • serious quesiton, have you tried asking the embassy in Lisbon? Or German Auswärtiges Amt? Being Germany's foreign office, they do have quite a bit of history to from exactly that period to work through, and thus there's even an independent commission for the role of the Foreign Office during the Third Reich. I bet someone knows where to point you should you need in-depth information exceeding what has already been found here. What Germany might have been roaming the Cafés is still a bit of a large topic: Don't forget Salazar, an explicit fascist, during WW2, was very much on the side of Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 21:16
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    Worth mentioning (although might be already known to the OP): Lisbon was among the major routes for the Jewish and other refugees fleeing from Nazis during the WW2. Specifically, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Portuguese consul in Bordeaux, is honored by Yad Vashem as righteous among the nations for issuing hundreds of thousands of transit visas. A classical novel on German refugees in Lisbon is Remark's The Night in Lisbon (but see also his other refugee novels for more details.)
    – Roger V.
    Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 10:12

6 Answers 6


There was a functioning embassy of Germany in Lisbon for almost all of the second world war, until 6 May 1945. But there was no ambassador for a period in 1944–45.

Oswald von Hoyningen-Huene was the Ambassador of Germany to Portugal from 1934 to 1944. He was recalled to Germany for consultation after the 20 July plot, and the first nominated replacement was rejected by the Portuguese government. [See Ch.27 of N. Lochery, Lisbon: War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939–1945. PublicAffairs, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-58648-879-6]

The German second choice, Gustav von Halem, arrived in Lisbon on 13 March 1945, but his credentials were only recognized by the Portuguese foreign ministry 12 days before the end of the war. The embassy building was damaged by fire on 25 April and repairs were begun. At 18:30 on 6 May 1945, von Halem was summoned to the Portuguese foreign ministry and informed that since there was no longer a government in Berlin, diplomatic relations between Portugal and Germany were terminated, and the embassy was closed. [See Carlos Guerreiro, "II Guerra Mundial. Nazis em Lisboa nos dias do fim" ("2nd World War. Nazis in Lisbon in the final days"), RTP, 15 May 2023]. (Credit to @Rodrigo de Azevedo for locating this article.)

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    It might be worth noting that Salazar's protocol department ordered half-mast flags on the death of Hitler. This was normal on the death of a foreign head of state so not very significant, though the death of Hitler was not normal.
    – Henry
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 13:30

What Germany might have been roaming the Cafés is still a bit of a large topic:

Don't forget Salazar, a culturally authoritarian dictator, during and before WW2, was very much on the side of Franco, and Salazar declared Portugal neutral in WW2. He had no problem with anti-democratic Germany (Salazar took issue with the anti-catholizism of the Nazis; but, well, taking issue on a philosophical level…).

Portugal was an important trade partner for Germany, especially in terms of supplying tungsten, which was important for armor-penetrating munition, as well as rubber, necessary for anything that goes somewhere without a horse. So, there's bound to be quite a few Germans in Lisbon, Porto and industrial cities all over Portugal 1941. Mind that this trade takes the form of mining concessions; i.e., it was partially German companies that dug on Portuguese soil. It's well-documented that this upset Great Britain, but they applied extensive pressure no earlier than 1943, and only in 1944 Portugal severed diplomatic ties with Germany¹.

So, in other words, there were German salesmen, captains, miners, engineers, cooks, accountants, and their families in Lisbon, probably, at least coming through. Being one of the few European countries that traded with both the Allies and the axis forces, it's not unlikely there's been also a few grey to black market vendors for German goods there (say, machinery and replacement parts for German machinery that might have demand in GB but no legal way to import them); but that's now strictly speculation.

Other than that, Germans just tended to live quite everywhere; Germany didn't establish trade with Portugal just to wage WW2, both being seafaring nations, there's bound to be some local settlements, German gentlemen's clubs, plain Kneipen (pubs) where you'd read a German newspaper… The world war certainly posed a problem for families who just happened to live in Portugal and happened to have ties to Germany. It's pretty likely that Estado Novo wasn't a great context to have a German-culture club – but then again, Salazar's idea of a state was ultra-conservative, and nationalist, and if you could arrange with that, it might not have been an existential threat.

¹ Wheeler, Douglas L. “The Price of Neutrality: Portugal, the Wolfram Question, and World War II.” Luso-Brazilian Review, vol. 23, no. 2, 1986, pp. 97–111. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3513243. Accessed 27 Aug. 2023.

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 21:46

You might like to read about the history of Juan Pujol García, notorious for being the only spy decorated by both the British & Nazi governments. The Wikipedia page lacks the details, along with many of the fabulous fictions he led the Germans to believe, but many of the biographies do mention him meeting with Nazi agents both in and outside of the embassy in Lisbon.


While looking for something else, I found this, which confirms that an Embassy (called Legation) did exist.

Allied Relations and Negotiations With Portugal - U.S. Department of State (.gov)

  • page 12 of PDF:

Portuguese officials seized German Government buildings and their contents throughout Portugal and its colonies and, by early June, delivered them to the Joint Allied Committee on German Affairs in Portugal, established to oversee their liquidation. Included in these seized assets were 5,000 unidentified gold coins found at the German Legation in Lisbon in May 1945.

  • Source: Despatch 220 from Lisbon, June 8, 1948, RG 59, Decimal Files 1945-49, 800.515/6-848. The Joint Allied Committee was composed of one representative each from the three Allied Embassies in Lisbon.

I have one name for you: Duško Popov, AKA "Tricycle", the codename given to him by MI6.

I am a very well read WWII era European history buff, and this is partly because both of my grandfathers served in the US military during the war, and by chance, both were involved in very unique, significant, and incredible events which effected them both mentally and physically the rest of their lives (this isn't about them obviously, but for example, my maternal grandfather was on the first landing craft ashore in Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped, one of the first men to set foot on the beach, and was exposed to radiation levels that eventually killed him.)

Anyway, Dusko was a double agent for MI6 and the Abwehr, and routinely flew from London to Lisbon to pass material to his handler, Von Karston? (I believe? This is all from memory, you can easily research this and get correct spellings etc, obviously). I believe looking into Popov will lead you down a treasure trove of a trail of information on the Nazis and their business and goings on in Lisbon, as Popov was literally one of the most important spies for the Allies, because of this, there should be a lot of information regarding him which you can work off of to follow up on clues gleaned from his story.

I really think this could be the way to crack open leads you can build on. Good luck, Lisbon was a fascinating place of lies, subterfuge, and open secrets as everyone knew it was anything but neutral and allowed the Nazis to set up in Portugal and get away with just about anything they wanted. Good luck!

  • Hi and welcome to Hist SE. This doesn't seem to directly address the question as to whether or not there was a German embassy in Lisbon in 1941. Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 10:42

Another potential source of information could be the German Club in Lisbon, founded in 1870; the activity of the club was suspended between 1944 and 1955, but perhaps you can get additional information there.

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