German Brazilian

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A German Brazilian (German: Deutschbrasilianer, Portuguese: teuto-brasileiro or germano-brasileiro; also: alemão) is a Brazilian person of ethnic German ancestry or origin. German Brazilians live in the entire country, although the overwhelming percentage is found in the country's South Region, mainly in the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, with lesser but still significant degree in the Southeast Region. German dialects together make up the second most spoken first language in Brazil. A few Brazilian municipalities have Brazilian Hunsrückisch and Germanic Pomeranian as co-official with Portuguese. They are located in Southern Brazil and Espírito Santo. About 12 million Brazilians have at least some German heritage, 1.5 million speak German or Brazilian German.[1].

Forced assimilation

Due to anti-German sentiment and especially envy of German prosperity, in 1938, President Getúlio Dorneles Vargas initiated a strict racist program of forced cultural assimilation: Nacionalismo. He forbade any organised manifestation of German culture in Brazil. Schools were required to teach exclusively in Portuguese,[2] and the publishing of books, newspapers and magazines in foreign languages (which in practice meant German language and Italian language) was subjected to prior censorship by the Ministry of Justice[3] The use of foreign languages in governmental precincts was forbidden,[4] as well as the use of foreign languages in religious services.[5] Members of the Brazilian army were sent to areas of "foreign colonization" to "monitor" the local population. There are records of arrest or moral coercion motivated by the use of foreign languages.[6][7]

Sometimes, Germans surnames were adapted or changed in Brazil. Although this was part forced assimilation, officially it was stated, that this was done for a more "understandable" writing in Portuguese since many were incomprehensible to Brazilians. The name change meant a loss of cultural identity for great masses of Brazilians with, often unknown, German heritage.

Christ the Redeemer in Rio in Black, Red and Gold.jpg
Germans surnames adapted in Brazil [8][9]
German Adapted
Birnbaum Pereira
Diemer Dimer or Timer
Emmerich Emerin
Frazen França
Greis Krais
Hahn Hánn
Herzenritter Heizeriter or Aizenrita
Jungles Junckes or Junkes
Justin Justo or Justino
Kehrig Koerich
Kuhn Cunha
Lefhaar Leffa,Lefa or Leva
Löwe Leão
Meng Mengue
Meyer Maia
Ostien Hóstia
Paulus Paulos or Paulo
Schaeffer Schefer
Schlitzer Silistre
Weber Webber or Veber
Weingärtner Vaingärtner
Wilvert Vicente
Zimmermann Simão

The first German communities

Pomerode was founded by Pomeranian Germans in 1861 and is considered, along with Blumenau, the "most typically German of all German towns of southern Brazil".
Place Date Place of origin of the settlers[10]
Nova Friburgo (RJ) 1819 Switzerland, Rhineland, Saxony, Bohemia
São Leopoldo (RS) 1824 Hunsrück, Saxony, Württemberg, Saxe-Coburg
Santo Amaro (district of São Paulo) (SP) 1829[11] Hunsrück
Petrópolis (RJ) 1837[12] Kastellaun, Mosel, Bingen, Nassau, Ingelheim, Wörrstadt, Darmstadt, Rhineland
Santa Cruz (RS) 1849 Rhineland, Pomerania, Silesia
Santo Ângelo (RS) 1857 Rhineland, Saxony, Pomerania
Nova Petrópolis (RS) 1859 Pomerania, Saxony, Bohemia
Teutônia (RS) 1868 Westphalia
São Lourenço do Sul (RS) 1857 Pomerania, Rhineland
Blumenau (SC) 1850 Pomerania, Holstein, Hanover, Braunschweig, Saxony
Brusque (SC) 1860 Baden, Oldenburg, Rhineland, Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein, Braunschweig
[Pomerode (SC) 1861 Pomerania
Joinville (SC) 1851 Pomerania, Prussia, Oldenburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, Switzerland
Curitiba (PR) 1851 Volga Germans
Guarapuava (PR) 1951 Swabian Germans; Swabia
Santa Isabel (ES) 1847 Hunsrück, Pomerania, Rhineland, Prussia, Saxony
Santa Leopoldina (ES) 1857 Pomerania, Rhineland, Prussia, Saxony, Switzerland, Tirol, Schleswig-Holstein
Santa Maria de Jetibá (ES) 1857 Pomerania

Year of Germany

Beginning May 2013 Brazil celebrates the "Year of Germany in Brazil". Just in time for German Unity Day on 3 October 2012 the world-famous Christ the Redeemer monument in Rio de Janeiro was illuminated in Germany’s national colors of black, red and gold to point towards this awaited event. The motto of the year is “Germany and Brazil – when ideas come together”.[13] The Unidos da Tijuca school, the third-oldest samba school, reigning carnival champions, chose to go for a German theme at this year's Carnival with an unusual title for their 80-minute performance in February 2013: "Alemanha Encantada" or "Enchanted Germany," which is about "Brazil and Germany coming together: colours, cultures, and capabilities," the Tagesspiegel newspaper. It was a mammoth show, involving eight floats, built on buses, with various Germanic features - including outsized Playmobil figures, the moon (to represent Germany pioneering rocket scientists, e.g. Wernher von Braun), and figures from ancient Germanic mythology, including thunder god Thor. Artistic director Paulo Barros, who has already choreographed two winning Sambadrome performances, packed Germany into five acts, beginning with Germanic gods and assorted mythic creatures. There follows Goethe's Faust, Bertolt Brecht's outcast characters, Fritz Lang robots, and a depiction of Marlene Dietrich as the Blue Angel. Meanwhile, the "Universe of Children" section is dedicated to German fairytales and toys. The whole spectacle was broadcasted in its entirety on Brazilian TV station Globo-TV, with an audience of more than 190 million viewers.[14]

Brazilians of German descent (excerpt)

German-Brazilian friendship at the World Cup 2014.png
German-Brazilian friendship at the World Cup 2014 after the German 7 to 1 victory

List of German Brazilian models

  • Gisele Bündchen
  • Ana Claudia Michels
  • Ana Hickmann
  • Mariana Weickert
  • Letícia Birkheuer
  • Raquel Zimmermann
  • Cintia Dicker
  • Solange Wilvert
  • Monique Olsen
  • Carol Trentini
  • Jeísa Chiminazzo
  • Shirley Mallmann
  • Bruna Erhardt
  • Vera Fischer
  • Mariza Sommer
  • Ingrid Budag
  • Eveline Schroeter
  • Maria Carolina Portella Otto
  • Leila Cristine Schuster
  • Thaisa Thomsen
  • Carina Beduschi
  • Rafaela Zanella
  • Jakeline Lemke
  • Priscilla Riker
  • Liandra Schmidt
  • Sabrina Rhoden
  • Manoella Heiderscheidt
  • Aline Weber

See also



  1. The mutually comprehensible German-based dialects spoken by German Brazilians together form a significant minority language in Brazil. They are particularly strong in the country's South and Southeast Regions. Brazilian German is strongly influenced by Portuguese and to a lesser extent by Italian dialects and indigenous languages
  2. Decreto-Lei 406, May 4th, 1938, article 85
  3. Decreto-Lei 406, May 4th, 1938, article 87
  4. Decreto-Lei 1.545, August 25, 1938, article 15
  5. Decreto-Lei 1.545, August 25, 1938, article 16
  6. Um processo cultural forçado
  7. Experiência dos campos de concentração na vida dos imigrantes do Paraná
  8. Histзria da Imigraусo Alemс no Sul ... - Felipe Kuhn Braun - Google Livros. Retrieved on 2011-09-19. 
  9. As Mudanças nos Nomes de Família - Família MEURER. Retrieved on 2011-09-19.
  10. As tradições e o abrasileiramento
  12. Fundação de Cultura e Turismo Petrópolis - FCTP. Retrieved on 2011-09-19.
  13. Christ the Redeemer Monument in Rio de Janeiro illuminated in black-red-gold
  14. Rio gives Carnival a Teutonic touch