Germans in (Southern) Brazil

“German immigration to Brazil started in 1824 — just after Brazil won independence from Portugal — as a result of Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro I’s (1798-1834) need to populate uninhabited regions of the huge country. Such regions were being disputed with neighbouring countries such as Argentina and Paraguay. Uruguay was just becoming independent. Those countries were by then former Spanish colonies, as all of South America was becoming independent, and all of them were interested in receiving European knowledge, expertise and labor.

Some Brazilian states received higher inflows of Germans than others. Such was the case in Rio Grande do Sul, where the first “wave” of immigrants was settled in the 1820s. In 1827, a group of Germans migrated to Brazil from the region of Trier. This was the first official German migration to Brazil. Part of this group (mainly Catholic married men) came to the farm called “Fazenda Guarei,” which is today a small town in the state of São Paulo called Guarei. These Germans are considered the founders of Guarei.


A second “wave” went to Santa Catarina in the 1850s, but also to Rio de Janeiro, in smaller number, mainly to a city called Petropolis, where the Emperor Dom Pedro II’s summer house (nowadays the Imperial Museum) was located. Other German immigration waves occurred in the 1890s, as well as after the First and Second World War. The latter emigres were not necessarily only refugees, but also people who were tired of the war. They had different destinations: to the states of Sao Paulo, to Paraná, and to the other Brazilian states.

In the mid-to-late-19th century, many German-Russians migrated to the state of Paraná, more specifically, to near Ponta Grossa city, in Campos Gerais region (a savannah). After a failure in wheat cultivation, many re-emigrated to Argentina or the USA.

On August 12, 1950, five hundred Donauschwaben families were invited to immigrate to the region of Entre Rios (Portuguese for between the rivers) in the highlands (1200 meters altitude) of the state of Paraná. The first settlers arrived at the port of Santos, Brazil in June of 1951, settling in Entre Rios with the intent of growing wheat. The area was not prepared for cultivation, there were no buildings at all, nor were settlers exactly welcomed. Rattlesnakes roamed the country. Every couple was assigned 15 hectares of land, with an additional 8 for each son or 4 for each daughter, and a house of either 72 or 42 square meters depending on family size. House and land were assigned on a loan basis; repayment to occur in about ten years time.

The first church was erected in 1957-8. The chief town is Vitoria, others in order of their founding are Jordaozinho, Cochoeire, Socorro and Samambaia. The towns were named for the previous owners of the land, which the settlers were helped to purchase by the Swiss charitable organization Europahilfe.

During the 1960′s, many of the settlers returned to Germany or Austria. Forty-two families left in 1963 alone. As of 1992, only about 5% of the original houses still remained, the rest having been replaced by more permanent structures. About 2,000 of the settlers and their descendants still make their homes here, continuing to speak the donauschwäbische dialect.

Paraná and Sao Paulo have also seen a large number of German immigrants. Through the years, the descendants of these immigrants have spread out to other Brazilian regions, yet the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná are known for their concentrations of German descendants, while in other states there are rather “pockets” of them in cities such as Sao Paulo (capital of Sao Paulo state) and Petrópolis (Rio de Janeiro state).” – Source

(First video in PT)

(Apparently 2:45-2:56 in the video, depicts an Italian dance)  

(Second video in English)

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8 thoughts on “Germans in (Southern) Brazil

  1. Boa Noite, venho solicitar que retire a imagem que passa no minuto 2:45 e 2:56 do video Cultura alemã no Brasil, pois a mesma pertence a um grupo de dança italiana e não de um grupo de dança alemão e NÃO foi autorizada a utilização.

    Pedimos a gentileza de retirar do ar esta foto.


    Gruppo Folcloristico Arcobaleno

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    • I’m so excited to find you site. I released my first film on the expulsion/genocide of the ethnic Germans after WWII. 15 million ethnic Germans lost everything, some their lives from 1944-1948 in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Slovakia among others just because they were German.

      I know a number of the survivors fled to south America and I’ve been trying to track down some of these survivors to talk to. I’ve interviewed 125 survivors for the film series I’m putting together about this horrible forgotten history and you’re the first south American site I’ve have found that spoke of the Donauschwaben. Please go to my web site and find out who I am and what I’m doing.

      I look forward to hear back form you,


      • Hi Ann,

        I wish I knew more about it but my article was from (you can find the source at the end of the article). The only thing I did was source it and add some pictures and video as well as the Wikipedia link to Donauschwaben. Sounds like your film is quite interesting. Though it isn’t about Germans, per se, I recommend Soviet Story ( which must have been taken down because I could only find a 25-minute section of the documentary.

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