British Universities Film & Video Council

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Europe’s Crossroads

Series

Series Name
The March of Time 9th Year

Issue

Issue No.
6
Date Released
24 Jan 1944
Length of issue (in feet)
1730
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1Europe’s Crossroads

Story

Story No. within this Issue
1 / 1
Summary
The March of Time synopsis: The latest March of Time release ... describes life in present-day Portugal, and the problems of a Catholic people who would keep peace and preserve strict neutrality on the western edge of war-racked Europe.

Portugal stands apart as the only European country with a programme for a Catholic order of peace and progress. Her Prime Minister, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, once a candidate for the priesthood, listens with unfailing repect to the voice of the Church through the lips of his former University classmate Portugal’s Primate, Cardinal Ceregeria. Salazar rescued Portugal from bankruptcy and became its dictator in 1928. He has built up a political structure of a corporate state where elections are by limited suffrage and by a system of guild representation resembling that of Italy during Mussolini’s regime. The unit of the State is the family. The individual is held to exist politically only as a part of a group; as a member of a family; as a resident of his village; as a member of a corporation of employees or a guild of employers. Today Salazar’s new state emphasises the dignity of labour, and Portugal’s working classes are guaranteed decent working conditions by law. But though standards of living have improved they are still low. On the borders of starving Europe, Portugal is one country where food is still abundant, but the great demans of the belligerents to purchase the nation’s food supply has boosted prices beyond the means of the average Portuguese whose wages have been frozen by government decrees intended to check inflation. The Portuguese treasury is solvent today, having no great military expenditure to meet. The extensive programme of public works, instituted to solve the nation’s unemployment problem, is still being carried out regardless of Europe’s war.

The moral and political precepts of the Church and the State colour the curriculum of Coimbra University, where Premier Salazar still retains the chair of political economy which he held when he was called to Lisbon to become Portugal’s leader. Coimbra was a centre of culture as early as the thirteenth century, and today is a fountainhead of the philosophy behind the new state which has incorporated into its constitution the basic principles of the Church’s great encyclicals. Outside the University, the State schools are mainly kindergarten and primary, for the new Portugal pays little attention to the education of its masses, seventy per cent of whom are illiterate. Every Portuguese is being made to feel that in the new state he can be proud of his nationality but beyond this the government has no motive for desiring nationalism among the people. The new Portugal has no dreams of restoring lost grandeur because its possessions in Africa and Asia, its strategic islands in the S. Pacific and N. Atlantic still form an empire twenty times the size of the Mother country. As the world’s eighth largest empire its natural policy would be conservative rather than aggressive.

Portugal’s capital is the last great city in Europe to keep up the appearance of pre-war continental living, but it is only an appearance, for war has wrought great changes in neutral Lisbon. Here newspapers from every major country, except Russia, can be read by the polyglot population who must make what it can of the rumours inspired by rival foreign propaganda organisations. Through Lisbon’s airport the commercial planes of Allies and Axis alike maintain a constant traffic. Foreign statesman and diplomatic couriers arrive, while through Lisbon’s harbour, long the escape hatch of Europe, refugees, seeking sanctuary in the western world, depart. Throughout Portugal an effect of the war is evident in neglected farms deserted by peasants who have found unexpected wealth in propecting for ores which have become precious through the demands of the belligerents.
Portugal sells the products of the land impartially to Allied and Axis nations; welcomes with diplomatic fervour the envoys of every warring country; is pro-Ally in the British Embasst, pro-Franco to the ambassador of her neighbour and friend. But when diplomatic correspondents add up the score of Portugal’s activities and policies their one basic conclusion is that Premier Salazar is tenaciously pro-Portuguese.
Researcher Comments
This story was included in Vol.10 No.2 of the US edition.
Keywords
Politics and government; Food and cooking; Economics; Foreign relations; Domestic life; War and conflict; Religion and belief
Written sources
Documentary News Letter   Vol.5 No.1 January & February 1944, p5.
The March of Time Promotional Material   Lobby Card, Used for synopsis
Credits:
Director
Jean Pages
Camera
Marcel Rebiere
Production Co.
Time Inc.

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