Alumni of the Brazilian Army's Command and General Staff School Major Otto Maximilian von Westernhagen (1923-1968) was recognized for his achievements in WW II, army officials said.
The former Nazi soldier was killed in 1968 in Rio de Janeiro by an alleged left-wing armed group, who mistook him for Bolivian Captain Gary Prado. Prado participated in the U.S.-backed capture and murder of Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Bolivia in 1967.
Prestamos hoje homenagem ao oficial de nação amiga, Major do Exército Alemão Otto Maximilian, aluno da Escola de Comando e Estado-Maior do Exército que, em 1º de julho de 1968, foi assassinado no Brasil.https://t.co/A3XS7QgXnzpic.twitter.com/YbxMUPeZjJ
Today we pay tribute to our friend nation's officer, German army Major Otto Maximilian.
Reporting on his death on July 2, 1968, Brazilian newspaper Folha do Sao Paulo wrote, "The victim had been decorated by Hitler during the occupation of France and suffered serious injuries during the Soviet army’s fight for Berlin to end the war.”
After the war was over, Von Westernhagen escaped to Argentina and later rejoined the German army due “to his qualities as an artillery expert.” The Nazi commander then traveled in the 1960s to Brazil, as part of an exchange program, during the country’s far-right dictatorship rule, nowadays openly praised by President Jair Bolsonaro.
The Brazilian group “Jews for Democracy” said in statement Tuesday: “The Army's tribute to Otto Maximilian is incomprehensible and unacceptable. In its form and in its content ... The tribute note is scary, revolting and incomprehensible. Just one thing revolt more: the complicit silence of some Jewish entities in Brazil.”
It is a well-known fact in Brazilian history that a large part of the Brazilian Army’s high command supported the nation's possible entrance into WWII on Germany's side.
However, Brazil ended up sending its Expeditionary Force to fight the Axis forces in Italy. A total of 25,000 soldiers fought side by side with the Allied forces, in which some 300 fighters died in combat and more than 1,000 were wounded.