832.24/268: Telegram

The Chargé in Brazil (Burdett) to the Secretary of State

618. For the Under Secretary. Reference to my telegram No. 617, November 27, 8 p.m. I saw Aranha today. He had just had Dutra67 and Goes in conference and said both generals were full of praise for the help being rendered by you, Ambassador Caffery and General Marshall. Aranha quoted Dutra as saying the army is neither pro-American nor pro-German but pro-armament. However, that if the United States goes to war Brazil will be compelled to follow it. Also that Dutra said that in Washington they are not behaving like friends but like brothers.

Aranha said the President and Dutra are giving him an entirely free hand in this controversy.…

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Aranha, Dutra and Goes are excited and most indignant. … They regard the ship seizure as a colossal blunder and they feel [Page 639] that the help being given them by our Government is their only hope. If the arms are released the highest officials of Brazil will fully realize that it was due to our help. I believe the gratitude will be lasting. If the British do not release the arms it will be incredibly disappointing and cost them dearly in Brazil now and in future years.

Aranha emphasized the fact that the arms contract was made with Germany in 1938 as it was imperative that the army have this equipment and Germany was the only country that could furnish it. It now is clear that Germany signed the contract fully counting on a war during the term of the contract while Brazil ignored possibilities of war. There are four copies of the contract, two in Germany, one with the Minister of War and one with the Minister of the Treasury here. Aranha said that he would show the contract to us but would not show it to the British or any one else.

The Rio newspapers today first published news of the seizure of the ship but made no reference to armament on board or to Brazil’s displeasure. Aranha said he would let the news out little by little in order better to control the reaction of public opinion.

He denied that Germany, with the balances held here, is buying war material for shipment by air and states that the payments on the armament contract in blocked milreis are not available for propaganda use. He does believe that the Germans are shipping out diamonds by air and will take measures to prevent it.

Aranha again referred to the fine treatment accorded the Willingdon Mission here. (It is still in São Paulo). He repeated how he had gone to the extreme of making an anti-German speech at the Foreign Office banquet to Willingdon and that he invited Dutra to hear the speech; also to the fine press publicity he had given the British Economic Mission.

President Vargas is returning to Rio tomorrow.

The note transmitted in my telegram 611, November 27, 10 a.m., was not delivered to the British Foreign Office until today.

  1. Gen. Eurico Gaspar Dutra, Brazilian Minister of War.