Amidst the Balkan Wars and the transition of the port city of Salonica [Thessaloniki] from Ottoman to Greek rule, thousands of Sephardi Jewish women and men sought creative legal footholds in a nationalizing Europe by seeking the status of protected persons, or protégés, from Portugal, Spain, and Austro-Hungary. What legal rights, and what limits, were placed upon those who inscribed themselves on the ledgers of foreign consulates? How did individual Jews and Jewish families come by their protection, and in what ways did this status serve—or work against—them over time? To address these questions, this chapter explores the legal environment of war-torn from Salonica various perspectives: that of Portuguese officials in Lisbon; Portuguese consuls in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East; critics of the institution of extraterritoriality; non-Jewish Greek observers and the Greek authorities; and, finally, individual Jewish seekers and holders of Portuguese papers—women and men who acquired Portuguese papers and subsequently sought to leverage this protection to their advantage over the course of the First World War, with the rise of Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar’s authoritarian and corporatist regime in Portugal, and during the frantic lead-up to the Second World War.
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