1942: Brazil Declares War on Hitler’s Germany

1942: Brazil Declares War on Hitler’s Germany
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/Outside the building in Braunau am Inn, Austria, where Hitler was born, is a memorial stone placed as a reminder of the horrors of World War II. The inscription translates as: For peace, freedom and democracy never again fascism millions of dead remind [us]

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 22 August 1942
  • Brazil was the only independent South American country that sent its military forces to Europe in order to fight against the Axis powers. These units were called "Brazilian Expeditionary Force" (Portuguese: Força Expedicionária Brasileira or FEB), and they fought battles in Italy.

On this day in 1942, Brazil declared war on Hitler’s Third Reich. Brazil was the only independent South American country that sent its military forces to Europe in order to fight against the Axis powers.

These units were called “Brazilian Expeditionary Force” (Portuguese: Força Expedicionária Brasileira or FEB), and they fought battles in Italy.

The Brazilian soldiers had an interesting nickname during WWII. When Brazil declared war on Hitler’s Third Reich, a popular saying was: “It’s more likely for a snake to smoke a pipe, than for the FEB go to the front and fight.” (“Mais fácil à uma cobra um cachimbo fumar, do que à FEB embarcar para o combate.”)

When FEB engaged the Germans in southern Italy, the soldiers called themselves “Cobras Fumantes” (literally, “Smoking Snakes” because “cobra” means “snake” in Portuguese). They also wore a shoulder patch which showed a snake smoking a pipe.

General João Baptista Mascarenhas de Morais served as commander of the Brazilian units which were fighting on the Italian front. He was later awarded the rank of Brazilian Marshal. General João was the last active marshal in the Brazilian Army.

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