Role in WW2
Main article: Portugal during World War II
For the duration of World War II, Portugal was under the control of the dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. Early in September 1939, Portugal proclaimed neutrality to avoid a military operation in Portuguese territory. This action was welcomed by Great Britain. Germany's invasion of France brought the Nazis to the Pyrenees, which increased the ability of Hitler to bring pressures on Portugal and Spain.
Following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, which cut off their supply of tungsten metal, Germany sought tungsten from Portugal. Salazar attempted to limit their purchases, and in late 1941, German U-boats attacked Portuguese ships. In January 1942 Salazar signed an agreement to sell tungsten to Germany. In June 1943, Britain invoked the long-standing Anglo-Portuguese Alliance requesting the use of the Azores, to establish an air force and naval air base. Salazar complied at once. The Allies promised all possible aid in the event of a German attack and guaranteed the integrity of Portugal's territorial possessions. In 1944, Portugal declared a total embargo of tungsten shipments to Germany. Germany protested but did not retaliate.
Lisbon became a safe-haven to a scattering of Jews from all over Europe. Jewish refugees from Central Europe were granted resident status. After the German invasion of France, Portugal allowed thousands of Jewish refugees to enter the country. As the war progressed, Portugal gave entry visas to people coming via rescue operations, on the condition that Portugal would only be used as a transit point. More than 100,000 Jews and other refugees were able to flee Nazi Germany into freedom via Lisbon. By the early 1940s, there were thousands of Jews arriving in Lisbon and leaving weeks later to other countries.
Main article: Macau during World War IIAlthough the Japanese military invaded and occupied the neighboring British colony of Hong Kong in 1941, they initially avoided direct interference in the affairs of Macau. It remained a neutral territory, belonging to Portugal, but Portuguese authorities lacked the ability to prevent Japanese activities in and around Macau. In 1943, Japan ordered the government of Macau to accept Japanese advisors. The limited Portuguese military forces at Macau were disarmed, although Macau was never occupied.
Portuguese East Timor
Main article: Battle of Timor
In early 1942, Portuguese authorities maintained their neutrality, in spite of warnings from the Australian and Dutch East Indies governments that Japan would invade. To protect their own positions in neighboring Dutch Timor, Australian and Dutch forces landed in Portuguese Timor and occupied the territory. There was no armed opposition from Portuguese forces or the civilian population. However, within a matter of weeks, Japanese forces landed but were unable to subdue substantial resistance, in the form of a guerrilla campaign launched by Allied commandos and continued by the local population. It is estimated that 40,000–70,000 Timorese civilians were killed by Japanese forces during 1942–45.