Welcome to Rio de Janeiro! Germans in Brazil

Germans in Brazil
The Harbor of Rio de Janerio, Brazil

A Brazilian Adventure Awaits

In 1923, Willy packed up his tools and bought a one-way ticket to Brazil. Germans had been immigrating to Brazil for almost one hundred years, and he saw no future in Germany for the life he wanted. What did he want? Willy wanted adventure, success and, always, to help his family in Schmirma. Willy was accustomed to the “German way” of doing things, which meant a structured work place, guilds that protected workers and pride in workmanship. Although he found Germans in Brazil, he was surprised to find a very loose work environment and casual lifestyle, but he adapted. Once he arrived, he wrote to his family to share the news:

May 15, 1923 Letter from Brazil

Dear Parents and Siblings,

I am writing to tell you that I have arrived safely in Brazil. After my arrival, I continued to the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, but my first stop did not have much work, and I could find only a few Germans in Brazil. I did get work for a Brazilian blacksmith, but I was supposed to sleep in a shack that was like a pigsty at home with no bed or chair. I naturally turned it down and then traveled with a German, by train, to the city of Pelotas.

Shortly after arriving here, I got a job working for a German. It was high time, because I had no more money. I have a good job, and at least the people are very sensible. There are two masters who are brothers-in-law, and they like to drink brandy. The older one drinks his bottle of beer every day and in the evening continues on with drinking. When he is sober, he is quite reasonable. The work is easy, and all the blacksmiths at home will be amazed. You make the iron for the horseshoe yourself. A horse comes along, you take four irons from the nail on the wall, and you slap them on. Whether they are fitted right doesn’t matter or having the runners and a toe or just a point doesn’t matter.

Willy stayed in Brazil for awhile but although he had adventures, he didn’t have success. The Germans in Brazil did not prove to be as helpful as he wished. He decided to move north.


How Southern Brazil Became ‘Little Germany’

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About The Book

This is a story told through the descriptive journals and letters written by ordinary people living through extraordinary times. In their own words, the Geheb family share their adventures. heartaches, love, and passions from 1914 to 1947 in Germany and America. You will be inspired by the strength and perseverance of the German Gehebs and the never-ending love and devotion that Willy Oswald Geheb had for his family.

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