The effects of the Nationalization Campaign: the Prohibition of the German Language in Southern Brazil (1937-1945)ISER Internal Seminars

The research concerns the effects of the Nationalization Campaign and specifically, the prohibition of the German Language in Southern Brazil during the Second World War. The project looked at three main areas: how the Nationalist campaign worked and the forms it took; the reaction people had to the campaign; and whether the Portuguese language came to dominate German speakers. The main aim of this campaign was to homogenize Brazilian society (which had been very diverse), to adopt a Brazilian culture and to preserve Portuguese traditions. This involved the affirmation of Portuguese as a national language. An important word at this time was regeneration. The government was concerned with citizenship and wanted to create a new type of citizen and a strong national identity. Propaganda was also an important tool to affirm a sense of nationality and encourage suspicion Nazism. Before the campaign there had been a lot of written materials in German, but few in Portuguese. The government wanted to replace all this German material with Portuguese and therefore encouraged the people to publish a great deal in Portuguese. The quantity of propaganda was enormous, not only in terms of written materials but also the many speeches the President made. The goal was to try to unify the nation and capture people’s imagination; to integrate the population and create a new concept of citizenship. Another goal was to promote ‘Brazilian values’, to spread a Brazilian culture, and confirm the Portuguese language and the nationalist spirit. Another aspect of the campaign was the introduction of the radio, which became an important propaganda tool. Radio sets became common first among the middle-class then workers used them for receiving news from the government. Working class life was deeply affected by radio government propaganda and the domestic space was invaded by the voice of power. Radio created the image of the president as a hero of the Brazilian working classes, an image which persists to the present day. Many German immigrants resisted the Nationalist campaign. They worked hard to maintain their sense of German identity. They would read German literary texts, and traditional written communication such as weekly newspapers and almanacs from Germany. Some immigrants also managed to maintain a German-language press and some German institutions such as societies and home school projects. Some German immigrants collaborated with the campaign. They began to speak Portuguese in all situations and avoided German. They changed their behavior, affirming Brazilian culture and values. Some valued the culture that was being promoted and for example, instead of traditional German festivals, they began to celebrate religious and fishing festivals which were typical of the Azorean way of life.

Presented by:

Cynthia Machado Campos (Visiting Fellow – Department of Sociology)

Date & time:

27 Oct 2010 12:00 pm - 27 Oct 2010 13:00 pm

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