Fernando Santos Costa

Fernando Santos Costa

Fernando Santos Costa

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Colonel Fernando dos Santos Costa (December 19, 1899 - October 15, 1982) was a Portuguese army officer who held the office of Minister of War in the government of António Salazar between 1944 and 1958.

Early career

Santos Costa and Salazar met at the University of Coimbra in 1917, where they were both members of a Catholic student organisation, the Academic Centre for Christian Democracy. Santos Costa went on to join the army and, as a second-lieutenant, took part in the abortive royalist uprising against the Portuguese Republic in 1919.

Still later, he was involved in the 1926 coup, that by degrees turned Portugal into an entrenched right-wing dictatorship. The decisive moment came in 1928 with the appointment of Salazar as Minister of Finance. Salazar went on to become Prime Minister in 1932, and established a Benito Mussolini-style corporate state, governed by 'non-party' specialists. One such specialist was Santos Costa, who became Deputy Minister of War in 1936, even though he still only held the junior rank of captain in the army.

Santos Costa was set to become one of the leading figures of the New State, the style adopted by the Salazar dictatorship, responsible for the reforms intended to improve the fighting efficiency of the army. After the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he was also strongly associated with the faction in both the state and army that desired a German victory, even though this went against the good relations that Portugal traditionally...
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