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.