Speech given at Embassy of Brazil, Rome-Italy, October 15, 2014.
This book purposely transcends the military actions of Brazil in World War II because it seeks to contextualise the conflict in the economic, political and social developments that affected the world in the early twentieth century and that initially led to fascism in Italy and, later, to Nazism in Germany.
Thus, I sought to explain the underlying conditions for the development of fascism in Italy in the early 1920s, together with the spurious ideologies of the movement, its policy of internal repression and external imperial expansionism, all within a despairing economic, social and political framework, whilst paying particular attention to Mussolini’s racist policy.
Likewise, the development of Nazism in Germany is examined from the end of World War I, in 1918. I examine the the political conflicts of the time, the disbelief in democracy and the role of German nationalism arising from the creation of the nation state in 1870, in the creation of Nazi thought. I analyse Hitler’s expansionist policy in international relations, together with the verified economic recovery and internal political repression in the domestic sphere, and again I discuss the issue of racism.
In Brazil, I discuss economic, social and political evolution from 1929 and their internal effects and examine the Revolution of 1930 and the various political developments that occurred in the 1930s and 1940s. Moreover, I report on aspects of foreign trade and the oscillating politics of President Getúlio Vargas and how the situation of the colonies of Italian (largest in the world), Japanese (largest in the world) and German immigrants (second largest in the world) presented itself in Brazil in that period.
I introduce the evolution of Brazilian foreign relations, highlighting the severance of relations with the Axis powers in early 1942, which led to the situation of belligerency with Germany and with Fascist Italy. I also report on the circumstances and the situation of risk, assessing the latter as an act of enormous political courage by the government of Getúlio Vargas, since it was implemented when the Axis powers were winning the war.
I introduce the coastal and South Atlantic war, the losses of Brazilian and allied ships, as well as their respective consequences for Brazil, and I examine the relevance of naval transport during this period. I also describe the situation of the Brazilian Navy and its formidable action in this episode, in protecting convoys and north-south transportation in Brazil. I examine the actuation of the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira, FAB), created as an independent weapon in 1941, to combat the submarines of the Axis powers. I report on the understanding achieved between Roosevelt and Vargas, with respect to sending a Brazilian expeditionary force to the theatre of Italy operations. I discuss the formation of the FEB and the appointment of its commander, as well as the selection criteria of its ranks. I examine the formation of the Air Force Fighter Division of the FAB and the appointment of its commander. I disclose the extraordinary support received from national public opinion for the humanistic mission of the Brazilian armed forces, the burden of which was supported by the Brazilian nation, including full payment of armaments supplied by the United States under the Lend-Lease project.
I present the extraordinary actions of the Brazilian Army in the FEB, its strategic achievements, the liberation of Italian cities, the enciclement of an entire German division following a pursuit of 130 miles (209 km), and its victims. I report on the heroic action of the FAB in the Italian theatre and discuss the disproportionately high results of their actions, together with the personal sacrifice of its officers.
In the epilogue, I evaluate the effects of World War II on international relations and in shaping international public law and the advancement in public ethics. I further examine the effects of the conflict on Brazil, Italy, Germany and Japan, as well as the excellent relations of the country with those other countries in the post-war period.
Finally, I hope that this modest work will serve as a contribution to the maintenance of the important historical memory of Brazilian action in the liberation of Italy and in defence of the highest humanistic values, such that they are always preserved. Likewise, I trust that the book and the memories it elicits serve to further approximate Brazil and Italy in the bonds of brotherhood and friendship that are instilled not only by common ideals, but the strong sociological component imparted by Italian immigration in Brazil.