Feature Articles - The Minor Powers During World War One - Brazil

Brazil's President Wenceslau Braz As a major Atlantic trading nation, Brazil was particularly threatened by the German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare.

However, there were large numbers of German immigrants in southern Brazil and most were still patriotic Germans.  Brazil was thus reluctant to go to war, especially given the German heritage of Foreign Minister Lauro Muller.

On the 5th of April 1917, the Brazilian ship Parana was sunk off the French coast and three Brazilians killed.  In Rio de Janeiro, an angry mob attacked German businesses, and on the 11th, the German Minister von Pauli was expelled.

Brazil eventually declared war on Germany on 26th October 1917, after the dismissal of Muller, and the Brazilian Navy began to take over patrols in the South Atlantic, as well as sweeping mines off the West African coast.

A Brazilian Expeditionary Force was being prepared when the Armistice was signed, and it would probably have been sent to Mesopotamia, where they would have been more accustomed to the climate.  Nonetheless, some military missions were sent to Europe and a few actually saw combat and were decorated.

A "chit" was British slang for a piece of paper.

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Minor Powers