Nueva Germania

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Nueva Germania
Coordinates: 23°54′0″S 56°42′12″W / 23.90000°S 56.70333°W / -23.90000; -56.70333
Country Paraguay
DepartmentSan Pedro
Founded23 August 1887 by Bernhard Förster
 • Intendente MunicipalLeonardo Saiz Arce
 • Total20.008 km2 (7.725 sq mi)
132 m (433 ft)
 • Total4,335
 • Density15.9/km2 (41/sq mi)
Time zone-4 GMT
Postal code
Area code(s)(595) (44)

Nueva Germania (New Germania) is a district of San Pedro Department in Paraguay. It was founded as a German settlement on 23 August 1887 by Bernhard Förster a white supremacist, who was married to Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, sister of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Förster's idea was to create a model community in the New World and to demonstrate the supremacy of German culture and society. Förster committed suicide after the settlement initial failiure.

In the town there are still many German remnants. There is a museum that exhibits memories of the town's origin.

It is located about 297 kilometres from Asunción, capital of the Republic of Paraguay.


Nueva Germania was founded in 1886 on the banks of the Aguaray-Guazú River, about 250 kilometres from Asunción by five, later fourteen, largely impoverished families from Saxony.[1] Led by Bernhard Förster and his wife, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, the German colonists emigrated to the Paraguayan rainforest to put to practice utopian ideas about the superiority of the Aryan race.[2] It was the declared dream of Förster to create an area of Germanic development, far from the influence of Jews, whom he reviled.

The colony's development was hampered by the harshness of the environment, a lack of proper supplies and an overconfidence of the colonist's own supposed aryan supremacy. Most settlers soon died of starvation and disease. Those who survived malaria and the sand-flea infections rushed to flee Nueva Germania. Of the few who stayed, convinced of their founder's teachings, married among themselves as to preserve the racial stock. To this day the consequences of inbreeding are visible, with high incidence of mental problems and physical malformations.[2]

Förster, who had negotiated the town's titles of property with General Bernardino Caballero, committed suicide in 1889 in the city of San Bernardino after abandoning the settlers.[3] His wife returned to Germany in 1893.

According to Gerard L. Posner, writing in Mengele: The Complete Story, Josef Mengele, a major German war criminal, spent some time in Nueva Germania while a fugitive after World War II;[4] however, evidence that Mengele even passed through is shaky at best.[5]

Nueva Germania became a quiet community of San Pedro, dedicated to agriculture, specializing in the cultivation of yerba mate. Beginning in 2004 the American writer David Woodard embarked on a series of expeditions to the erstwhile colony.[6][7] As of 2013 pockets of German culture remained. Most of the population in the area still only speak a mix of German and Guaraní.[5]


Cassava plant

One of the most important products of the district is yerba mate, along with sugarcane, cotton, manioc (cassava), tobacco, sunflower, soy, wheat, banana, sweet and sour orange, Paraguayan lemon verbena and sesame.


A branch of Route No. 3 General Elizardo Aquino, a paved road, is the main access to the town, which connects it with Asunción and other localities of the department. Also, Route No. 11 Juana Maria de Lara, an unpaved road, connects the town with the Amambay Department.

Other unimproved roads (of sand or pebbles) connect with different districts and the capital of the department.


The climate is tropical, with abundant rains, a maximum temperature of about 35 °C, a minimum of 10 °C and an average of 23 °C, with a humidity of 80%. Precipitation exceeds 1300 millimeters, especially in summer.


The Guaraní language is predominant; about 80% of the population speak it; the rest speak a combination of German and Guaraní.[8]


Nueva Germania town (1891)

The General Directorate of Statistics, Polls and Census reports the following numbers with regard to population:

  • In 1992 the district had 17,148 inhabitants, the majority of whom lived in the Town of Santa Rosa del Aguaray. In 2002 Santa Rosa del Aguaray became a municipality in its own right. Consequently, the District of Nueva Germania lost most of its population and territory, though it retained the Mennonite colony Rio Verde to the north of Santa Rosa del Aguaray.
  • The population is mostly rural and occupied in agricultural activities.
  • The projected net population by gender for 2002 is 4,335 inhabitants (2,323 men and 2,012 women).

As of 2002, about 10% of Nueva Germania's inhabitants were of mainly German origin.[1]


Nueva Germania borders:


Nueva Germania district is watered by the rivers Aguaray Guazú and Aguaray mí and the streams Tutytí and Empalado.


Main social and demographic indicators:

  • Population under the age of 15: 39%
  • Average of children per woman: 3.4
  • Percentage of illiterate in the district: 15.4%
  • Percentage of population occupied in the primary sector of production: 60.1%
  • Percentage of population occupied in the secondary sector of production: 14.3%
  • Percentage of population occupied in the tertiary sector of production: 25.0%
  • Percentage of housings that count with power service: 82.0%
  • Percentage of housings that count with running water: 39.6%
  • Population with unsatisfied basic necessities:
  • Percentage of population with necessity of more access to education: 13.5%
  • Percentage of population with necessity of more sanitary infrastructure: 20.9%
  • Percentage of population with necessity of more quality of housing: 41.2%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Evangelische Gemeinde Düren [1] Brochure by the Protestant Parish of Düren (in German), contains pictures.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ Posner, Gerard L. (1986). Mengele: The Complete Story. Cooper Square Press. pp. 123–124.
  5. ^ a b Simon Romero (May 5, 2013). "German Outpost Born of Racism in 1887 Blends Into Paraguay". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  6. ^ Epstein, J., "Rebuilding a Home in the Jungle", San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 13, 2005.
  7. ^ Kracht, C., & Woodard, D., Five Years (Hanover: Wehrhahn Verlag, 2011).
  8. ^

External links and further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 23°54′S 56°42′W / 23.900°S 56.700°W / -23.900; -56.700