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In the wake of Pearl Harbor attacks, Brazilian government at Rio de Janeiro conference, decided to break up diplomatic relations with Axis powers. During the same,  German government had been warned through his ambassador about Brazilian position clearly  favorable to the United States. Mr Pruefer, in a last gamble wrote a letter to his Brazilian colleague asking for reconsideration.

In the letter he added: Brazilian position is tantamount to a “latent state of war” between Germany and Brazil, probably leading to a state of effective war. In other words, German diplomat made those words sound as a real threat that in response, Germany would fatally employ the force against Brazil. Soon the facts showed the prophetic words of the German ambassador and in a few weeks Brazil took a heavy toll with the first sinkings of its merchants.

Relations between Brazil and Germany at this time could not have been worse. The Germans were very much persecuted and treated very badly. Germany's economic interests were heavily damaged. The Brazilians were already completely on the side of the United States. They had allowed United States air bases to be established along the Brazilian coast, and also intelligence stations. They themselves confirmed that they had destroyed a German U-boat; and, on the other hand, the German U-boats had attacked Brazilian ships, for the Brazilian ships were not illuminated according to regulations and consequently could not be recognized as such.

Germany had previously asked all the South American countries to illuminate their ships in such a way that their nationality could be distinguished at night. Then there were air attacks on U-boats of the Axis Powers, and they could have been carried out only from Brazilian bases. At the request by the Naval Operations Staff to the Fuehrer, the latter decreed that once again they should ask the Italians what intelligence reports they had received, and Italy in turn confirmed that some weeks before, Italian U-boats, which had been operating together with German units, had been attacked near the Brazilian coast.

Likewise the Brazilian Air Ministry had made known the fact that Brazilian or United States aircraft coming from Brazilian air bases had attacked Axis U-boats. On the basis of that confirmation, the Fuehrer permitted the use of weapons against Brazilian ships along the Brazilian coast. A plan was worked out, according to which a number  of U-boats, which left the French coast in June proceeded into the Atlantic, bound for the Brazilian coast. Soon the  war would reach the Brazilian Merchants at the south Atlantic. 

Some of the obsolete ships of Brazilian Merchant Navy. Most of them were built years before World War One. Rusty, belching too much smoke, unarmed and slow, a factor that made them highly vulnerable for a submarine, they were vital for the transportation of passengers and cargo along the lengthwise coast of the country. With the increase of Axis submarine attacks on the merchants, Brazilian authorities became alarmed with the possibility of an interruption on that essential traffic, a matter of life or  death for the country.

Brazilian Merchant Navy had lost 22 ships on the Caribbean and US East Coast before the attacks on Brazilian coast in 22 Aug 42. Brazilian Government arrested and confiscated 20 foreign ships in our ports, being 3 Germans, 11 Italians, 5 Danish, and 1 Finnish. 2 big liners, the Italian Conte Grande and the German Windhuk were handed over to the US and served as troop transport during the entire war.



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