Auhagen (Santa Catarina, Brazil)
Augagen was a small Russian Mennonite settlement established under the auspices of the German government in 1930 some 40 miles (65 km) from Hammonia in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, adjoining the Krauel settlement, on land purchased from the Hanseatic Colonization Company (headquarters at Hamburg, Germany). In Mennonite history there have been only a few instances of Mennonites abandoning a settlement they had begun; e.g., Terek in Russia and Auhagen in Brazil. Whereas in the Caucasus the move was motivated primarily by the question of local political security, in Auhagen it was in the first place the unfavorable situation of the Stoltz Plateau on which the settlement was located, and in addition, economic conditions, that compelled the Mennonite refugees from Russia to abandon the settlement.
The settlement was founded in 1930, under unfavorable conditions. The immigrants, the last Brazil installment of the group who escaped from Russia in 1929, took it for granted that they would be settled in connection with the nearby Witmarsum settlement that was already established, and they were deeply disappointed when they learned that they were not to settle on the Pinhal River near Witmarsum. The Stoltz Plateau is a high elevation very difficult to reach, which is probably the reason why it had never been settled. By foot the top is reached from the floor of the valley in an hour; but a wagon requires six hours, which adds greatly to the expense of transportation of produce the 40 miles to Hammonia-Ibirama, the nearest market town. When the settlers arrived they were faced by an impenetrable forest, which would, of course, first have to be conquered. The second problem seemed less difficult: what crops should be raised here? The settlers assumed that the corn and aipim, a tuber used like potatoes and in the manufacture of starch, which grew in the neighboring Krauel settlement, would succeed here. But these crops did not thrive on the plateau, and were abandoned as commercial products. The settlers then tried shipping the wood of the forest to Hammonia. But this also failed, for the supply was not adequate on all the farms, and the cost of shipping devoured the income.
Although it gradually became clear also that their land was not worth the price they paid for it, negotiations with the Hanseatic Colonization Company in Hammonia failed to bring about a reduction in price. Likewise the company refused to build a new road to the settlement to reduce the expenses of transportation. In order to ease the scarcity of money the settlers began to let their daughters and then also their young men work in the neighboring towns (Hammonia, Blumenau, Jaraguay, and as far as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro). The money earned was of value to the settlement, but the loss of its youth weakened it.
By 1934 the fate of the settlement was sealed and the settlers decided to look around for other possible sites. They found nothing promising, and the Dutch Mennonites as well as the German government declined further financial help. The report of a committee of experts that it is impossible to raise corn and aipim on the plateau and that the colony would have to change over to dairying, only served to accelerate the dissolution.
Since there were no prospects of a united settlement elsewhere the emigration proceeded without plan. Most of the Auhagen group settled in the outskirts of Curitiba, the capital of Paraná, and took jobs as laborers, craftsmen, merchants and especially as dairy farmers. They bought and bred cattle and sold the milk in the city. They were soon able to purchase their land and founded the settlements of Boqueirão and Xaxim.
There is not the least doubt that the settlers were right in abandoning Auhagen. To have consumed their strength there would have denoted indecision and lack of vision, since their problem could be solved at other places in Brazil to far greater advantage. The last families of the 96 (464 souls) in 1934 left at the beginning of World War II.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 189-190. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Quiring, Walter. "Auhagen (Santa Catarina, Brazil)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A89923.html.
APA style: Quiring, Walter. (1953). Auhagen (Santa Catarina, Brazil). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A89923.html.