Lisbon, 1975. The correspondence of the German Embassy regarding the case of granted refuge to four coup officers


  • António Louçã RTP



The defeated officers on the failed putsch of the 11th of March 1975 in Lisbon were either fired from their positions, arrested, or else escaped to Spain. However, four officers of the National Guard (Guarda Nacional Republicana) requested political asylum at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany. The request was most unwelcome to the Embassy, given that it was attempting to improve its relations with Portugal’s political left and the Movement of the Armed Forces. As result, while the four officers did not obtain the asylum they solicited, they were granted a temporary shelter at the Embassy. Ambassador Fritz Caspari informed the German Foreign Office and the Portuguese President about the presence of the officers at the Embassy. He got orders from Bonn not to surrender the four refugees, while the Portuguese President demanded that they be handed over. Caspari was able to reach a compromise and allowed the refugees to remain in the Embassy overnight, though in the morning it became clear that additional time was impossible to negotiate, given that the Embassy was surrounded by demonstrators. Ambassador Caspari ignored the orders insistently sent by Bonn and convinced the four officers to surrender, assuring them they would be presented to an ordinary court and their families allowed to locate in Germany, if they so wished. In the following months, the four officers remained in custody, the last of which was released a year later. In short, the situation was correctly assessed by Caspari, whose autonomous decision preserved the possibility of an active German diplomacy in the Portuguese political process.


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