LuxCitizenship

The Luxembourg Ancestors: Brazil

Written by: Daniel Atz with Lauren Lowell and Verônica Bochi

For every US applicant getting Luxembourg Dual Citizenship through ancestry, there are nearly three Brazilians applying as well. Who are their Luxembourg ancestors and how did they end up in Brazil? Let’s dive into the story. 

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The Luxembourg Ancestors: Brazil

To turn on the subtitles, please press the play button, followed by the CC icon. To change languages, click the gear icon and “Subtitles/CC”.

For every US applicant getting Luxembourg Dual Citizenship through ancestry, there are nearly three Brazilians applying as well. Who are their Luxembourg ancestors and how did they end up in Brazil? Let’s dive into the story. 

Background

212 people participated in our open survey of (future) Brazilian-Luxembourgish dual citizens through ancestry. From the 212 respondents, we obtained information on 71 of their Luxembourg ancestors. In this first section of our study, we dive into the story of Luxembourgish immigration to Brazil to explain who our dual citizens’ ancestors are and how their ancestors’ stories affect these people reconnecting with Luxembourg today.

Video: Brazilian-Luxembourg Dual Citizen Fernanda explains what her ancestry and dual citizenship mean to her as part of a 2020 video campaign during the outbreak of Covid-19.

Video: Brazilian-Luxembourg Dual Citizen Fernanda explains what her ancestry and dual citizenship mean to her as part of a 2020 video campaign during the outbreak of Covid-19.

212 people participated in our open survey of (future) Brazilian-Luxembourgish dual citizens through ancestry. From the 212 respondents, we obtained information on 71 of their Luxembourg ancestors. In this first section of our study, we dive into the story of Luxembourgish immigration to Brazil to explain who our dual citizens’ ancestors are and how their ancestors’ stories affect these people reconnecting with Luxembourg today.

Why Did Luxembourgers Emigrate to Brazil?

Once upon a time, in 1815 specifically, Luxembourg regained its independence from France. The downside? It became a personal possession of the new Dutch king and was occupied by Prussian troops.

Ancestor Location of Birth

Back then, 80% of Luxembourgers worked in agriculture. Droughts would hit once every three years, constantly bringing their income to a halt.
The Dutch king didn’t help much and he wasn’t particularly bothered about Luxembourg. Although, he did love to tax their farmers.
Do you think that the other 20% of Luxembourg’s population was working in the banks? Think again! Absolutely no banks existed in Luxembourg until the 1850s. No banks, no capital.
Poverty and hunger pushed these Luxembourgers to look beyond their borders.

Image: We see here that many of the Brazilian ancestors are from Luxembourg’s North (Éislek). Vianden is the single largest town where the Brazilians’ ancestors were born. For the US Study, much fewer of the ancestors were from the North and Canton Vianden is the least represented of Luxembourg’s 12 cantons.

Image: We see here that many of the Brazilian ancestors are from Luxembourg’s North (Éislek). Vianden is the single largest town where the Brazilians’ ancestors were born. For the US Study, much fewer of the ancestors were from the North and Canton Vianden is the least represented of Luxembourg’s 12 cantons.

Back then, 80% of Luxembourgers worked in agriculture. Droughts would hit once every three years, constantly bringing their income to a halt.
The Dutch king didn’t help much and he wasn’t particularly bothered about Luxembourg. Although, he did love to tax their farmers.
Do you think that the other 20% of Luxembourg’s population was working in the banks? Think again! Absolutely no banks existed in Luxembourg until the 1850s. No banks, no capital.
Poverty and hunger pushed these Luxembourgers to look beyond their borders.

Kind of a Bummer: The 1st 🇱🇺🇧🇷 Migratory Wave

In 1828, German travel agents came to Luxembourg and aggressively promoted migration to Brazil. They convinced around 2,500 Luxembourgish peasants, roughly 1.8% of the national population, to move. At the time, less than 100 Luxembourgers were leaving for North America a year.

These “Brasilienfahrer”, Brazil-goers, set out for the port of Bremen in Germany. Tragically, most of them did not make it to Brazil. Instead of taking the Luxembourgers to Brazil, the travel agents beat and robbed two thirds of them before they got to Bremen.
70% of the families who set out for Brazil had to return to Luxembourg. Ashamed or shunned by their communities, these robbed Brazil-goers built a new community in the North region of Luxembourg. The town’s impoverished inhabitants, first called Nei-Brasilien then eventually Grevels, survived by stealing potatoes from nearby farms.

Saint Catherine, Save Us!

At the very most, 100 Luxembourgish families made it from the Port of Bremen, Germany to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Video: Brazilian-Luxembourg Dual Citizen Paulo eloquently explains about his ancestors coming to São Perdo de Alcântara and the traditions and values they passed down. This was part of a 2020 video campaign at the outbreak of Covid-19.

While some of these Brazil-goers would move all around Brazil, the vast majority of them would head for what would become today’s Santa Catarina (Saint Catherine) state. Santa Catarina is located in Brazil’s South and is the country’s 10th largest state.
Many of the Luxembourgers would end up in Angelina, São Pedro de Alcântara, Antônio Carlos, and Santo Amaro da Imperatriz – all located in the hills just outside of the state’s capital of Florianópolis. This migratory history makes Florianópolis one of the Brazilian cities with the most Luxembourg dual citizens today.

Few Lessons Learned: The 2nd 🇱🇺🇧🇷 Migratory Wave

The second wave of Luxembourgish immigration to Brazil occurred from 1846-52. The migrants were set to leave through the Port of Dunkirk, France.

Although smaller in scale than the first wave in 1828, most of the second wave Brazil-goers met the same tragic fate. While some would actually make their way to Brazil, the majority either returned home after being robbed or changed their destination to Algeria.
Most of the Luxembourgers who migrated to Brazil during the second wave, made their way to the Santa Catarina and Espírito Santo (Holy Spirit) states. Espírito Santo is the state north of the Rio de Janeiro state.
According to Luxembourg’s Embassy to Brazil, Luxembourgish communities were also set up not far from Porto Alegre, the capital of the Rio Grande do Sol state, the valleys of Itajaí (Santa Catarina), Rio Negro (Paraná), Curitiba (Paraná), and among other places.

#itgetsbetter: The 20th & 21st Centuries

If the story of how few immigrants made it from Luxembourg to Brazil got you down too, we thought we’d end this history lesson on a positive note.

Image: Then-Prince Jean, future Grand Duke of Luxembourg (1964-2000) visited the ARBED industrial complex with local Luxembourgish leader Louis Ensch around the time of World War II.

Following World War I, Luxembourg’s then steel and iron giant ARBED, today’s ArcelorMittal, built a considerable industrial complex in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais (#pãodequeijo🧀🤤).
At least 400 Luxembourgish managers, engineers, technicians, and highly qualified steel workers would migrate to the Belo Horizonte region, but most eventually returned to Europe. A film project is under way about this Luxembourgish colony.
The economic success story of Luxembourgish investment in Brazil continues to this day. According to the US Department of State, Luxembourg was the fourth foreign direct investor in Brazil with the US in second place in 2020. Not bad for a country that’s 1/521th the US’s population.

So, who were the Brazilian dual citizens’ Luxembourgish ancestors?

As a reminder, we were able to get information about 71 Luxembourgish ancestors for our 212 Brazilian-Luxembourger dual citizens who participated in our open study.

Ancestor Year of Birth

Before 1800 0
1800-1809 0
1810-1819 0
1820-1829 0
1830-1839 0
1840-1849 0
1850-1859 0
1860-1869 0
1870-1879 0
1880-1889 0
1890-1899 0
1900+ 0
While the average age of the Luxembourgish migrants was 38 years old when they left for Brazil, some of the dual citizens’ ancestors were as young as two years old when they left for the New World!

Largest Grouping Leaving for Brazil: Middle Aged Men

Over  70% of the Luxembourgish ancestors who emigrated to Brazil did so before the end of the 1860s. By this time, the majority of emigration efforts focused on relocating to the United States and France, with smaller efforts to establish communities in countries such as Guatemala and Algeria.

Ancestor Gender

The proportion of men might be distorted because only descendants of male ancestors are eligible under Article 7, representing a certain portion of the applicants.

Age at Time of Emigration

Under 18 0
18-29 0
30-39 0
40-49 0
50-59 0
60+ 0

Where Did Our Dual Citizens’ Ancestors Set Up in Brazil?

While the history sections above focused on the general history of Luxembourgish migration in Brazil, let’s now focus on our dual citizens’ ancestors only.

Across the 71 ancestors, just over 50% ended up in Santa Catarina. Of those who emigrated to Santa Catarina, 55% of these Luxembourgish migrants settled in the towns of Rancho Queimado and São Pedro de Alcântara alone. So, it is clear that these were major Luxembourgish colonies.
Beyond these figures, the rest of the ancestors were spread out principally along Brazil’s central and southern coastal states.

Ancestor Location of Emigration

Now that you know about their ancestors, are you ready to learn more about who the Brazilian dual citizens are today?

Continue on to our Brazilian-Luxembourg Dual Citizens Study to learn more about the (future) dual citizens themselves!

Now that you know about their ancestors, are you ready to learn more about who the Brazilian dual citizens are today?

Continue on to our Brazilian-Luxembourg Dual Citizens Study to learn more about the (future) dual citizens themselves!

Brazilian Dual Citizens Study

Interested in learning more about Luxembourg dual citizens?

Our team has put together six interactive studies on Luxembourg dual citizens. Check out our case study portal to continue reading!

Navigate our Case Studies

Interested in learning more about Luxembourg dual citizens?

Our team has put together six interactive studies on Luxembourg dual citizens. Check out our case study portal to continue reading!

Navigate our Case Studies

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