This very state [Poland] – a first-order power with its 25 million inhabitants – on the Eastern end of Europe (…), is nowadays a mandatory diplomatic focus worldwide. Given its extraordinary wealth in terms of agriculture, mining and industry, it is beyond the question it is Poland indeed that represents the largest testing bed for the emerging economic applications from the ones that are now springing up after the current map of Europe has gained its new shape.

One must take note (…) the Polish citizens displayed exceptional patriotism when they were taking on tax whippings. This only proves their powerful national instinct, which makes them embrace heaviest sacrifice for the sake of their Homeland. (…) Poles’ conduct of giving up everything they once owned for their country is clearly an important case for their patriotic devotion, which ought to give rise to praise and prestige in the eyes of the world.

Vasco de Quevedo (1884-1943)
Portugal’s envoy in Poland in 1923–1930


Having spent two and a half years in Portugal, I got to like this small country, its people and their language. Even today, I still believe that the Portuguese are very good people and the most courteous of the European nations. This characteristic makes itself particularly apparent in relation to foreigners about whom they speak courteously as «senhor estrangeiro».[1]

Tadeusz Nowak Cieplak (1918-2006)
between 1943 and 1945 head of the Lisbon liaison post of the Polish Ministry of the Interior


A non-conformist Poland, which would always fight against an oppressor, and which would never give up hope for restoring its independence and gaining its freedom back again. [Its fight] determined the collapse of the communist dictatorship and the establishment of a democratic system, which in turn launched the process to end the Cold War and a bipolar world.

Mário Soares (1924-2017)
President of the Portuguese Republic from 1986 to 1996


This is a unique nation, so much different to the other ones I know from Europe – be it Russians or Fins, Ukrainians or Belarusians, Armenians or Jews, the Swiss or the French, be it Austrians, Germans or Belgians. Let us ask a Lisbon dweller or Coimbra or Oporto people how to reach this or another street, and they will come back to you not just with a polite reply: they will guide you there themselves, and once there, they will express most gallant farewell with this radiant feeling of content as they have just done a foreigner a favour.

A peculiar, great nation! (…) marvellously ‘different’ (…). Our noble friends from Portugal.

I say goodbye to the kind people of Portugal, to whom I have already developed a true, friendly attachment. (…) My hosts, a couple of darling Portuguese natives (…), embodied hospitality, nobleness, kindness of heart, as well as other lofty moral virtues so reminiscent of this nation I have lived with for a whole year.

Stefan Wloszczewski (1895-1984)
Doctor of Humanities, sociologist, social activist, journalist and columnist, resided in Portugal as a refugee from 1940 to 1941, lectured at the University of Coimbra


[1]    Here we have used the translation by Antoni Bohdanowicz in Jan Stanisław Ciechanowski (2015), Portugalio, dziękujemy! Polscy uchodźcy cywilni i wojskowi na zachodnim krańcu Europy w latach 1940–1945. Portugal, obrigado! Os refugiados polacos, civis e militares, nos confins da Europa Ocidental nos anos de 1940-1945. Thank You, Portugal! Polish civilian and military refugees at the western extremity of Europe in the years 1940-1945. Warszawa: Urząd do Spraw Kombatantów i Osób Represjonowanych, Oficyna Wydawnicza RYTM: 30. (Translator’s Note)