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date: 26 July 2021

Brazil and World War IIlocked

Brazil and World War IIlocked

  • Frank D. McCannFrank D. McCannUniversity of New Hampshire, Department of History

Summary

World War II produced great change in Brazil. Its war effort improved its port facilities, left it with new modern airfields from Belém to Rio de Janeiro, as well as refurbished railroads, and stimulated manufacturing, agriculture, mining, and a burgeoning steel complex. Its army, air force, and navy gained combat experience and the latest equipment. Its international stature had reached new heights and its leaders foresaw an ever-greater role in world politics. The war era laid the foundations upon which Brazil’s remarkable development in the next half century took place. The Brazilian leadership prior to the war had linked national development and security with international trade and finance, and they were concerned not to endanger the country, but they saw themselves naturally on the side of the liberal powers, particularly the United States.

Brazil’s contributions to the Allied victory were significant. Brazil hosted, at Natal, the largest US air base outside its own territory, and, at Recife, the US Fourth Fleet; and it tied its economy to the American war machine, sent its navy in pursuit of German U-boats, and provided an expeditionary force and a fighter squadron on the Italian front. It allowed the construction of the air bases before it severed relations with the Axis at the Rio conference in January 1942, and the army lost personnel, equipment, and families to submarine attacks before Brazil entered the war officially in August of that year. Brazil’s expeditionary force that saw combat as part of the US Fifth Army was the only Latin American ground force to fight in World War II. Brazil’s industrial development encouraged and supported by the United States laid the foundation for its post-war industrial transformation.

Subjects

  • History of Brazil
  • 1910–1945
  • 1945–1991

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