The ‘antifascist’ memory of the PIDE

One of the main features of the ‘antifascist’ memory of the PIDE, as it expressed itself in the immediate aftermath of the 25 April 1974 revolution, was to equate the PIDE with the Gestapo – as in the two publications above. The intended effect was to appropriate the Gestapo’s globalised symbolic capital of evil, conjuring up images of extreme ruthlessness and putting the PIDE on an equal level with the nec plus ultra of political violence.

The element of demonisation of the PIDE inherent to such comparisons – whose crimes, certainly in quantitative terms, cannot be equated to those of the Gestapo – should be understood as part of the context of revolutionary fervour following 48 years of dictatorship, as well as the urge to inform the public about the violent methods used by the PIDE against the opposition (arbitrary arrest, torture…). But it also served the more immediate interests of the parties of the far-left, whose status as principal victims of the secret police enhanced their legitimacy on the post-25 April political stage. Finally, it also suited popular aspirations by implicitly positing the population at large as powerless victims of the ‘Portuguese Gestapo’, thereby covering the multiple expressions of collaboration which emanated from society itself, not least the thousands of paid or spontaneous informants at the PIDE’s service.

One thought on “The ‘antifascist’ memory of the PIDE

  1. I found this an interesting post. I was a student in Portugal in 2001 and was quite interested in contemporary Portuguese history so came across the issue of the relationship between the PIDE and the Gestapo and other connections/comparisons between the Estado Novo and Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy. Later in life I have ended up spending a lot of time in part of the former USSR and now have family connections there. I was struck by the problems of comparing the PIDE either to the Gestapo and related Nazi security organisations which operated in occupied territories in Eastern Europe or the Soviet organs of state security but wasn’t aware of much having been written on this topic. I realised it is possible that the Nazi security forces had killed more women and children by specific extremely barbaric means (for example, burning) during policing and ‘public order’ operations in the 1941-44 period, or that the NKVD had managed to execute more members of the Belarusian intelligentsia alone than were killed by the PIDE during its whole history.

    Like

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