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BRAZIL THE HARD ROAD TO WAR * - THE HARD ROAD TO WAR

19)GERMAN AMBASSADOR CURT PR‹FFER


PRÜFER, KURT
* German diplomat; emb. Germany in Brazil 1939-1942.
Kurt Prüfer was born in Berlin on July 26, 1881.
In 1905 he received a doctorate in philosophy. Appointed in 1907 as an interpreter at the German consulate in Cairo, capital of Egypt, he returned to perform the same function in that city between 1910 and 1913. In 1914, during the First World War (1914-1918), he served as a liaison between the Ministry Foreign Affairs and the Turkish IV Army, Germany's ally in the conflict.
In March 1917 he began to serve at the German Embassy in Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey, where he remained until April 1919. Back in Germany in February of the following year, he served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, being promoted to second secretary in September 1920. Promoted to adviser in September 1923, in October of the following year he was in charge of managing the consulate in Davos, Switzerland. Again in Germany in June 1925, in October of that year he served as head of the general consulate in Tiflis (now Tblissi), in the Soviet Union, being promoted in June 1929 to a second-class minister and removed to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In April 1936 he achieved the rank of first-class minister.
In April 1939 he was appointed ambassador for special missions and, in the following June, appointed ambassador of Germany to Brazil, replacing Karl Ritter, who had been declared persona non grata in September 1938. During 1939, the Brazilian government initiated negotiations with the US company US Steel, with the German companies Thyssen and Krupp and with some Swedish companies interested in participating in the creation of a steel industry in Brazil. In June 1940, already in the middle of the Second World War (1939-1945), Prüfer received authorization from his government to start negotiations for the purchase of coffee and cotton from Brazil after the war. In addition, it was also authorized to offer Brazil financing for the implantation of the steel industry, since Germany feared the anticipation of the USA in the business.
According to Afonso Henrique, on the 21st of the same month, the German ambassador participated in a private interview with President Getúlio Vargas, without the knowledge of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Osvaldo Aranha. In that interview, according to a telegram sent by Prüfer to his superiors, the president proposed an activation of economic relations between the two countries. On the occasion, according to the source cited, Vargas reaffirmed Brazilian neutrality in the world conflict, also promising to control the excesses committed against German citizens in the south of the country, which he attributed to the campaign of external origin disseminated by Jewish immigrants.
On June 27, six days after the interview, the German government approved the deal with the following instructions: the agreement should be made directly with Vargas and should not be paid in foreign currency, and Germany would not make commitments regarding the company's delivery time. On the other hand, the credit to Brazil would have its limit increased from 170 to three hundred million marks and the German government was committed to send a large amount of war, railway and equipment for the Army's motorization. The German diplomatic offensive aimed, above all, to attract Brazil outside the area of ​​North American influence, which sought to sensitize the countries of the continent through the policy of Pan Americanism.
As an immediate next step, Germany intended that Brazil would not participate in the Havana Conference in Cuba, held in June 1940, but was unsuccessful. Prüfer wrote to his government saying that there were several conflicting positions within the Brazilian government regarding the German plans and that, therefore, it would not be possible for Vargas to establish a position. The Havana Conference ended up establishing that any external attack on an American country would be considered an aggression against all other countries on the continent and, on the other hand, the financing of the Brazilian steel industry ended up being made by the USA.
Finally, in January 1942, Brazil broke diplomatic relations with the countries of the Axis - Germany, Italy and Japan - and Prüfer was forced to leave the post, returning to his country. He was the last German ambassador to Brazil until 1951, when relations at the embassy level between the two countries were reestablished. Transferred to Switzerland in August 1943, Prüfer retired on November 25 of the following year.
He died on January 30, 1959.
SOURCES: CORRESP. EMB. REP. EDF. GERMANY; HENRIQUES, A. Ascension; SILVA, H. 1939.

 

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