Rolândia Collection

The collection from the Germanic Club of Rolândia (named the Rolândia Collection in this database) was kindly donated to the Federal University of Paraná by Mr. Klaus Nixdorf and Pedro Bernardy, residents of the metropolitan region of Londrina.

Rolândia was the setting of one of the most interesting and significant chapters of political and economic relations between Brazil and Germany in the 1930s and 1940s difficult years, when - mutatis mutandis - the two countries lived under dictatorial regimes.

The German initiative of settlement in the region, from which developed the present city of Rolândia, happened during the Weimar Republic, motivated by economic ends. Oswald Nixdorf, the founder of the settlement, arrived in Brazil on April 25, 1932 in the service of the Overseas German Society for Economic Studies, then headed by Erich Koch-Weser, who had previously been Minister of the Interior and Justice in the Weimar Republic. This Society intended to develop activities in partnership with the British colonial enterprise Paraná Plantations. Starting in January 1933, when Hitler ascended to power, the settlement found itself suddenly under the influence of Nazism, since it was partly a state enterprise. In spite of this, and thanks to the contacts, actions and convictions of agents of colonization, the region become a welcoming place for fugitives of the regime, such as centrist politicians Johannes Schauff and Erich Koch-Weser, as well as many families of Jewish ancestry

One of these families was that of Oscar and Margarete Altmann. Oscar Altmann, a senior director of the traditional Mannesmann company, had to leave Germany and emigrated to Rolândia, where he settled, and died in 1948. The dictatorship in Brazil was an obstacle to immigration, and for Jews there were additional difficulties.

One incident that took place in December 1943 would seem absurd nowadays. Oscar Altmann's 86-year-old mother, Helene, who lived in London was denied a visa, probably by Ernani Reis ("E.R."), a senior officer of the Ministry of Justice in Rio de Janeiro. In order to justify her rejection, the bureaucrat referred to the applicant's nationality: "German-Jewish." Fortunately, after the end of World War II and the Brazilian dictatorial regime under the Estado Novo, Helene was still able to meet her son again at the end of 1946, on a visit. Oscar and Margarete had four children: Paul, the eldest, lived in Australia and came to visit his mother in 1958; Gabriele and Friedrich had arrived with their parents in 1939; and the daughter who had the same paternal grandmother's first name, Helene, was able to join her parents in Brazil in 1946. (The information in this paragraph was kindly provided to the initiative by the historian Fábio Koifman, author of the book Imigrante Ideal: O Ministério da Justiça e a entrada de estrangeiros no Brasil (1941-1945) published by Editora Civilização Brasileira, 2013).

Helene Hinrichsen, was renamed Helene Altmann after her marriage, was a teacher and left, among other contributions, a long testimony about her life and an unpublished translation of a history of Rolândia, authored by Johannes Schauff in 1957(the text is housed in the Documentation and Historical Research Center of the University of Londrina). Helene died at the age of 87 in September 2010.

The lives of families such as Oscar and Margarete Altmann in Rolândia were characterized by their affluence cultural sensibility and high-level of education. This made it possible for many of its members, for several generations, to reflect in a unique way on the situation and the historical, political and social context experienced intensely in such a limited geographic space and under great ideological tensions. The vestiges of this history and the reflexive gestures of these historical and social actors are present in several documents and records, and in the assembling of the collection from the Germanic Club, with books (mainly literary works) donated by several city habitants and supporting institutions.


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