Request to the National Assembly (Parliament) 

for rehabilitation

(Submitted on October 31, 2011)
(ENGLISH TRANSLATION by mlopesazevedo)

Honourable First Lady, President of the Assembly 

Subject: Request for the re-instatement in the Army of  captain  Arthur Carlos Barros Basto of the infantry
, who was the victim of political-religious  segregation in the year 1937.

The present petition is based on the grave violation of human rights and the intolerable violation of the core of fundamental rights materially  protected by the constitution of the Portuguese Republic which requires the intervention of the Parliamentary commission  for constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees  for the following reasons:

1. At a time when anti-Semitism reigned  throughout Europe, when millions of human beings were led like cattle to the  slaughterhouse,  in Portugal, an army officer, Arthur Carlos Barros Basto, was sanctioned for being a Jew and practicing the Jewish religion.

2. As a result, on June 12, 1937, in the disciplinary matter of case no.o. 6 / 1937, the  Superior Disciplinary  Council of the Army  (itself an organ of a regime of  personal power) ruled as proven  that  Arthur Carlos Barros Basto,  "performed the operation of circumcision of
several students (of the Israeli Theological Institute of Porto) pursuant to a precept of the Israeli religion he professes", and who" took attitudes  of exaggerated interest and intimacy in students, kissing them and caressing them frequently " (the image of the Sephardic Jews of Tangier, where the victim  returned to Judaism) - cf. Document No. 1.

3. In light of these proven  facts, the  Superior Disciplinary  Council of the Army found that  Arthur Carlos Barros Basto did not have the, "moral capacity" for the prestige of his function and  the decorum of his uniform, thereby  punishing  him with  "separation from service" provided in Article 178 of the Rules of Military Discipline, published by Decree 16:963, on June 15, 1929.

4. The "separation from service" truly constituted for Arthur Carlos Barros Basto (the officer and the Jew) a civil death penalty. The victim was definitively suspended  from performing his duties,  was definitively impeded  from pursuing  his career, was definitively banned from wearing his  uniform, badges and military insignia, and was forced to forever remain subject to disciplinary action of the Army (in other words, was  forced to maintain  his civilian  life and  religious practice forever shaped by military rules absolutely hostile to the most basic Jewish precepts), under penalty  of being  re-tried, and re-convicted!

5. The facts that the Superior Disciplinary Council of the Army  considered 'proven' (and which led to a finding of  "moral incapacity" and consequent "separation from service" of the Jewish soldier  Arthur Carlos Barros Basto) fall squarely  whithin the universally accepted rights of all humans which existed before they were "proclaimed".

6. Moreover, the decision of Superior Disciplinary Council of the Army,  in total contrast with Dinim norms  that flow from primordial tradition,  impedes anyone, no matter who,  to understand how the judges reached the degree of certainty that they supposedly  achieved in relation to the facts they considered  proven. It is a decision without any basis, which does not  critically examine the means of proof of evidence that was considered or disregarded, and culminates in the censure of  Arthur Carlos Barros Basto for not pursuing the person who denounced him.

7.  April 25* may have corrected many injustices of the past, but at least one man was forgotten, Arthur Carlos Barros BastoThe Jew was forgotten.

In 1975 Lea Montero Azancot Barros Basto (widow of  Arthur Carlos Barros Basto) presented a request  for the reinstatement  of her deceased husband in the Army, but she  received a negative response from the General Staff of the Armed Forces; who, regarding the decision of 1937, and in such an unbelievable manner,  CONFUSED the facts "not proven unanimously", with the facts "proven ", thereby adding  to the illegality previously committed, another more scandalous one. - Cf. Documents paragraphs no. 2 and 3.

By these means, 

the undersigned requests that the Assembly of the Republic proceed to re-integrate her grandfather, Arthur Carlos Barros Basto into the ranks of the Army, having  guiding support
(far beyond Decree-Law No. 173/74 of April 26, applicable to the instant case by reason of "a maiori, ad minus") , from the moral and imprescriptible duty of the state to remedy such a serious violation of international law. "Adonai li vero ira"

Attached: power of attorney and three documents.

Isabel Maria de Barros Teixeira da Silva Ferreira Lopes 
(Granddaughter of Charles Arthur Barros Basto)

Rui da Silva Leal (Lawyer)

(*The Carnation revolution, April 25, 1974, translator's note)

(See Portuguese version below, and more articles about the Captain)



See award winning author Richard Zimler's plea in The Jewish Chronicle.



Captain Barros Basto
the Portuguese Dreyfus
by manuel lopes azevedo
  (November 15, 2006)
In 1497 the Sephardic Jews of Portugal ceased to exist. They were all ordered to be baptized by the King who promised the ‘New Christians” that there would be no inquiry into their private religious practices for 20 years (later extended). Secretly observing the essential rituals of Judaism, the New Christians maintained their Marrano (secret Jew, in Hebrew, “anousim”, for “forced one”) identity for over 300 years despite relentless persecution by the Inquisition. Thousands were tortured and/or burned alive. The national archives of Portugal, “Torre de Tombo” contains over 40,000 Inquisition files.
In the 1920s, Captain Arthur Carlos de Barros Basto, a decorated Portuguese WW1 veteran who survived gas attacks in Flanders, began a quasi-messianic movement in northern Portugal to “out” Marranos and bring them back to normative Judaism. Basto, a free mason and Republican was informed of his family’s Marrano heritage by his grandfather who announced on his deathbed that he wished to die as a Jew. Basto honoured his grandfather’s message for the rest of his life. He taught himself Hebrew, becoming so proficient that he later taught it at the faculty of Arts at the University of Porto where he also conducted original research into Portuguese medieval Jewish history. Later, he traveled to Tangiers to undergo a formal return process to Judaism. Returning to Lisbon, he married the daughter of a prominent Jewish family of that community which initially had rejected him. He then settled down in Porto, near Amarante, his place of birth, to raise a family and start his building his dream.
Basto’s mission attracted wide support from Sephardic Jews in Amsterdam, New York, and London (whose ancestors had escaped the clutches of the Inquisition). The London Marranos Committee and the Spanish Portuguese congregation of Bevis Marks, England’s oldest synagogue, provided moral and financial support. Prominent English Jews such as journalist and founder of the Jewish Historical Society of England, Lucien Wolf, Cambridge professor and respected author, Cecil Roth and lawyer Paul Goodman (also president of the London Marranos Committee), became friends and fans. Dr. Rabbi David Sola Pool of New York visited Basto.
Visiting isolated villages and towns, sometime by foot and donkey, the charismatic Captain, dressed in full regalia, convinced thousands of Marranos to give up their syncretism and return openly to the faith of their ancestors. He led the revival of normative rituals and established synagogues in several towns and cities, despite protests from the Catholic Church.
In Porto, a city with a strong mercantile Jewish tradition (birthplace of the world’s first secular Jew, Uriel da Costa, Spinoza’s predecessor) Barros Basto established a yeshiva (theological institute) and founded an instructional Jewish newspaper, “Halapid” (the “Torch”) which he published until 1958. At the height of the depression, with the financial backing of Baron de Rothschild of Paris and the wealthy Kadoorie family of Hong Kong, Barros Basto built a magnificent four-storey art deco synagogue, which he called the “Cathedral of the North”, a beacon for the downtrodden Marranos. The Kadoorie synagogue of Porto (Mekor Haim, Hebrew for “font of life) was inaugurated in 1938, the same year as Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass” when synagogues and Jewish businesses were ransacked and destroyed throughout Germany. During the ensuing war, Barros Basto helped many families fleeing the Holocaust.
It was all too much for Portugal’s staunch Catholic neo-fascist state, Salazar’s “Estado Novo” (New State). Relying on “anonymous” complaints and internal intrigue, Salazar’s dictatorship engineered the Captain’s downfall. Although Barros Basto was cleared by civil and military authorities of trumped up charges, Salazar’s fascist ministers condemned him for carrying out alleged circumcisions and stripped him of his military commission, prohibiting him from wearing his uniform on the basis that he lacked the moral capacity to continue his military career. This led to a collapse of the renaissance movement that Barros Basto had started. The very people he had championed shunned him. He fell into disgrace and died a broken man in 1961. The inquisition had not disappeared, it simply had adapted. Marranos once again withdrew into the world of secrecy.
Following Portugal’s peaceful carnation revolution of 1974, which toppled Europe’s longest dictatorship, Basto’s family sought to clear his name. Despite promises to do so, the military and politicians continue to stonewall all efforts to rehabilitate the Captain. Now, with the renaissance of Marrano identity, and the re-birth of the “Cathedral of the North” following a visit by the Sephardic grand rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar in 2004, the Captain is once again a hero. But, unlike Dreyfus, he has yet to been exonerated. Hopefully, he will indeed be the next Dreyfus.

FROM 2007


BARROS BASTO, THE MARRANO MIRAGE, by Alexandre Teixeira Mendes


Official book launch, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2007, 18.30 at Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue, Rua Guerra Junqueiro, 340, Porto, Portugal
Alexandre Teixeira Mendes, Ladina Books, Porto 2007

Book Synopsis on Back Cover by Pedro Sinde
(English translation by mlopesazevedo)

This book reveals Barros Basto and the Marrano question. Written in a hide
and seek style, it seems to play with the reader, leading him or her to
gradually begin to understand for themselves the author’s thinking. It is not an objective book, in that it is a book with a soul, a passionate book, and impassioned. Only those without a soul are capable of transforming the subject of their study into the object. Alexandre Teixeira Mendes, on the contrary transforms the object of his study into the subject; it is thus that Barros Basto, the Apostle of the Marranos, seems alive, contradictory, honest, a hero that struggled to rescue the Marranos, that is, those Jews who during four centuries concealed themselves, passing and re-creating, from generation to generation, a tradition that could not be expressed in the light of day; night was their day!
We see Barros Basto in the horizon, standing in a struggle against two giants, the Catholic Church and the Jewish “Church”, a David against two Goliaths. We see him give the signal to gather the dispersed ones.
Alexandre Teixeira Mendes does not examine Barros Basto from the outside; he accompanies him in his youth, in his conversion, during the war, in the organization of the mysterious Orymita Institute, in the work of rescue. And we, his readers, accompany him in an unforgettable journey to one of the most important places of the soul of the Portuguese being that only Sampaio Bruno and Antonio Telmo have studied with the same audacity and freedom that we now encounter in the author of this book.

Pedro Sinde

Cry justice for the 'Portuguese Dreyfus',
 by Michael Freund(2003)

A few months ago, in the northern Portuguese village of Amarante, I stood before the simple and unadorned grave of a largely forgotten Jewish hero of the 20th century, Captain Arthur Carlos de Barros Basto.
His name might not be familiar to you, but his story is worth recounting, nonetheless, because it is one of heartbreak and heroism, and its final chapter remains to be written.
Historians such as the late Cecil Roth labeled him the 'Portuguese Dreyfus' after French General Staff officer Alfred Dreyfus, who was convicted of treason on trumped-up charges in 1894 and drummed out of the military.But in one important respect Barros Basto's story is even more compelling, because, unlike his French counterpart, he has yet to receive the exoneration and acclaim he so richly deserves.
This year marks six decades since the Portuguese armed forces summarily decided to expel Barros Basto from their ranks, citing unspecified reasons of "good and welfare" for its decision.
The truth of the incident is far more troubling.
Captain Barros Basto was one of the Anousim, a descendant of Jews whose ancestors had been forced to convert to Catholicism during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. According to hisbiographers, Dr. Elvira Mea and journalist Inacio Steinhardt,Barros Basto was a decorated soldier who commanded a Portuguese infantry company in World War I, fought in the trenches of Flanders, and took part in the allied offensive to liberate Belgium.
After returning home from the war he decided to embrace the faith of his forefathers, and underwent a formal return to Judaism before a rabbinical court in Spanish Morocco in December 1920.
Based in the northern Portuguese city of Oporto, Barros Basto launched a public campaign to convince other Anousim to emerge from centuries of hiding and rejoin their people. This dashing war hero traveled among the villages and towns of the area, bedecked in his military uniform, holding Jewish services and seeking to inspire others to follow his example.
He succeeded in building the beautiful Mekor Haim synagogue, which still stands in Oporto, and opened a yeshiva that operated for nine years, teaching young Anousim about their heritage. Singlehandedly he produced a Jewish newspaper and was responsible for the publication of numerous books on Jewish history, law and lore in Portuguese.
But his open profession of Judaism, and the thousands of people whom historians say he inspired, did not sit well with the government, or the Church authorities of the time. They sought to quell his nascent movement by bringing false charges of moral debauchery against him.
Though the local prosecutor filed charges against Barros Basto, the case was dropped after two years, in 1937, for lack of evidence. Nevertheless, in 1943, Portugal's Ministry of Defense expelled him from the army, unjustly humiliating him and bringing about an end to his efforts to reawaken Portugal's Anousim.
He died in 1961, a broken man.
And so, whereas Dreyfus was eventually pardoned in 1899 and restored to the French army in 1906 with full honors, Barros Basto went to the grave without justice ever being served.
When I first learned of his story on a visit to Portugal last fall, I was livid with rage. How could it be that so many years have passed without the injustice done to this valiant, heroic figure being rectified? And so, earlier this year I launched a public campaign under the auspices of Amishav, the organization I direct in Jerusalem, seeking to persuade the Portuguese government to clear Capt. Barros Basto's name.
In a meeting with the Portuguese ambassador to Tel Aviv I asked that his government acknowledge Barros Basto's innocence and apologize for the hurt this chapter has caused to both his family and the Jewish people. Similar appeals were sent to the Portuguese government and its representatives abroad.
American Jewish organizations such as the Conference of Presidents, the Orthodox Union and the Religious Zionists of America have all joined the campaign, writing to the Portuguese ambassador to Washington about the Barros Basto case.
And US Congressman Gary Ackerman, a member of the House International Relations Committee, has also spoken out, urging the Portuguese to resolve the matter.
Thus far, however, there has not been any progress. The stain on this noble man's name has yet to be removed.
In a time when Israel finds itself targeted by terror it may seem incongruous to be concerning ourselves with such a symbolic cause. But symbols still have meaning, and it is incumbent upon us to do whatever we can to right this historical wrong.
Barros Basto was a courageous figure who stood up for the Jewish people, defying the powers that be to help his brethren. When anti-Semitism victimizes such a person, be it in 1943 or 2003, how can we possibly remain silent?
More pressure must be brought to bear on the Portuguese government to address this matter, and so the issue may be laid to rest once and for all. Contact your local Portuguese embassy or write to Portugal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs at: inf-imprensa@mne.gov.pt and ask them why they have not yet resolved this important case.
Captain Arthur Carlos de Barros Basto risked his career and reputation on behalf of his people, the Jewish people. The least we can do in return is see that the dignity so unjustly taken away from him is restored.

From jpost.com


(Outubro 31, 2011)

Exm.ª Senhora
Presidente da Assembleia da República

Assunto: Pedido de reintegração no Exército do capitão de infantaria
Arthur Carlos Barros Basto, que foi alvo de segregação
político-religiosa no ano de 1937.

A presente petição tem como fundamento a violação grave de direitos
humanos e a afectação intolerável do núcleo duro dos direitos
fundamentais materialmente protegidos pela Constituição da República
Portuguesa, pelo que se requer a intervenção da Comissão Parlamentar
de Assuntos Constitucionais, Direitos, Liberdades e Garantias. Tudo
nos termos e pelas razões seguintes:

1. Numa época em que campeava o antissemitismo pela Europa e em que se
preparava o encaminhamento de milhões de seres humanos como reses a
caminho do matadouro, em Portugal, um oficial do Exército, Arthur
Carlos Barros Basto, foi sancionado por ser judeu e praticante da
religião judaica.

2. Com efeito, em 12 de Junho de 1937, no processo de natureza
disciplinar n.º 6/1937, o Conselho Superior de Disciplina do Exército
(um órgão próprio de um regime de poder pessoal) deu como provado que
Arthur Carlos Barros Basto «realizava a operação da circuncisão a
vários alunos [do Instituto Teológico Israelita do Porto] segundo um
preceito da religião israelita que professa», e que «tomava para com
os alunos atitudes de interesse e intimidade exageradas, beijando-os e
acarinhando-os frequentemente» (à imagem dos judeus sefarditas de
Tânger, onde o visado se converteu ao judaísmo) - cfr. Documento n.º 1

3. À luz destes factos provados, o Conselho Superior de Disciplina do
Exército considerou que Arthur Carlos Barros Basto não possuía
«capacidade moral» para prestígio da sua função e decoro da sua farda,
pelo que o puniu com a «separação de serviço» prevista no artigo 178.º
do Regulamento de Disciplina Militar, publicado pelo Decreto 16:963,
de 15 de Junho de 1929.

4. A «separação de serviço» constituiu para Arthur Carlos Barros Basto
(o oficial e o judeu) uma verdadeira pena de morte civil. O visado foi
afastado definitivamente das suas funções; foi impedido
definitivamente de progredir na carreira; foi proibido definitivamente
de usar uniformes, distintivos e insígnias militares; e foi obrigado a
manter-se para sempre subordinado à acção disciplinar do Exército (ou
seja, foi forçado a manter a sua vida civil e a sua prática religiosa
para sempre modeladas por regras militares absolutamente hostis aos
preceitos judaicos mais elementares), sob pena de voltar a ser
julgado, sob pena de voltar a ser condenado!

5. Os factos que o Conselho Superior de Disciplina do Exército
considerou «provados» (e que determinaram a «incapacidade moral» e a
consequente «separação do serviço» do militar judeu Arthur Carlos
Barros Basto) enquadram-se a todas as luzes no exercício de direitos
universalmente reconhecidos a todos os homens e que já existiam antes
de haverem sido “proclamados”.

6. Acresce que a decisão do Conselho Superior de Disciplina do
Exército – em tudo contrastante com a normação Dinim que promana da
tradição primordial – impede quem quer que seja de entender como
alcançaram os julgadores o grau de certeza que é suposto terem
conseguido em relação aos factos que consideraram provados.
Trata-se de uma decisão que não tem uma linha de fundamentação, que
não procede ao exame crítico dos meios de prova que foram considerados
e desconsiderados, e que chega ao cúmulo de censurar Arthur Carlos
Barros Basto por não ter espancado quem o denunciou.

7. O 25 de Abril pode ter reparado muitas injustiças do passado, mas
pelo menos um homem ficou esquecido. Ficou esquecido Arthur Carlos
Barros Basto. Ficou esquecido o judeu.
Lea Montero Azancot Barros Basto (viúva de Arthur Carlos Barros Basto)
apresentou, no ano de 1975, um pedido de reintegração do falecido
marido no Exército, mas obteve uma resposta negativa por parte do
Estado-Maior General das Forças Armadas, que, a respeito da decisão de
1937, e de modo inacreditável, CONFUNDIU os factos «não provados por
unanimidade» com os factos «provados», e anexou à ilegalidade
anteriormente cometida outra mais escandalosa. - cfr. Documentos n.ºs
2 e 3

Nesta confluência,

Vem a signatária requerer à Assembleia da República que proceda à
reintegração nas fileiras do Exército do senhor seu avô, Arthur Carlos
Barros Basto, tendo por espeque norteador (muito para além do
Decreto-Lei n.º 173/74, de 26 de Abril, aplicável ao caso por força do
argumento a maiori, ad minus) o dever moral e imprescritível do Estado
de reparar uma violação tão grave da Lei consuetudinária
internacional. Adonai li velo irá.

Juntam: Procuração e três documentos

Isabel Maria de Barros Teixeira da Silva Ferreira Lopes
(neta de Arthur Carlos Barros Basto)

Rui da Silva Leal


(November 14, 2011)

(Rabino israelita afirma que discussão do Orçamento deve esperar)

Todas as discussões do parlamento, incluindo a do Orçamento de Estado, só devem ter lugar depois de ser declarada a reabilitação de Barros Basto: o militar judeu que foi expulso do exército português em 1937 por praticar actos próprios da religião judaica.

A opinião é do rabino israelita Daniel Litvak, que se encontra de visita a Portugal. Aos jornalistas, o mestre da religião hebraica afirmou que “o parlamento português deve corrigir o mais rapidamente possível a decisão anti-semita que em 1937 vitimou Barros Basto, e só depois é que devem ser discutidos os outros temas, sejam eles quais forem, porque o mais importante de tudo é fazer Justiça”. Mostrando estar a par da actualidade portuguesa, o rabino acrescentou compreender a “preocupação dos deputados com o Orçamento do país mas os judeus esperam há mais de 500 anos que Portugal lhes faça Justiça. Esta é uma oportunidade
Daniel Litvak fez questão de “recordar” que a sentença anti-semita do Estado Novo ainda produz efeitos muito graves na actualidade: “Essa sentença é uma afronta ao povo judeu no seu conjunto, mas também a toda a humanidade”.
A visita de Daniel Litvak – que é também rabino oficial do Porto – ao nosso país surge no momento em que o parlamento está a apreciar um pedido de reabilitação de Barros Basto interposto pela sua neta e subscrito pelo advogado Rui da Silva leal, representante da Ordem dos Advogados na última reforma penal.
O pedido, a que tivemos acesso, sublinha que o militar já deveria ter sido reabilitado em 1974: “O 25 de Abril pode ter reparado muitas injustiças do passado, mas pelo menos um homem ficou esquecido. Ficou esquecido Arthur Carlos Barros Basto. Ficou esquecido o judeu”.
De acordo com informações por nós recolhidas, Fernando Negrão, presidente da Comissão Parlamentar de Assuntos Constitucionais, Direitos, Liberdades e Garantias já terá declarado a urgência do processamento da resolução que poderá reabilitar Barros Basto.

Coverage in the Portuguese press (Lusa)