Willy Geheb Heads to 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. 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

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. 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.


Welcome to Rio de Janeiro!
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