- Adriano Diogo and Sebastião Neto, former prisoners and researchers, talk about the past role of the German automotive company in Brazil.
- Franz Stangl worked at the plant in São Bernardo do Campo, whose facilities were used as dungeons where interrogated trade unionists who would then be imprisoned. This is revealed by an investigation.
Before being sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany for the murder of 400,000 people, Nazi Franz Paul Stangl was hired in Brazil by Volkswagen, the company chosen by the dictatorship as a partner to power the “economic miracle” that allowed rates to be achieved Of growth of 10% per year. The motto was “order and progress”. With the baggage acquired in the concentration camps Treblinca and Sobibor, Franz Paul Stangl served in the Volkswagen plant in San Bernardo do Campo, whose facilities were used as dungeons where the trade unionists were interrogated and later handed over to the Order Directorate Political and Social (DOPS) for their imprisonment, torture and in some cases elimination. The assembly between the Volkswagen control system and the scheme worked for years. Repression was fierce in the first half of the 1970s.
Adriano Diogo, a political prisoner between 1973 and 1975, headed the Truth Commission in São Paulo during the presidency of Dilma Rousseff between 2010 and 2014.
It was four years of exhaustive work that allowed us to reveal with documents and testimonies that Franz Stangl had a significant participation, that the organization he led for eight years in Volkswagen continued to operate for decades. That scheme was a tributary of the dictatorship. And to some extent it can be said that the dictatorship was a tributary of that scheme. The harmony reached such a point that the company contracted Brazilian military personnel with a preference for the German language to work in the security department created by Stangl. Control was total, with Nazi precision. Last week German public television released a documentary with more information, which allows us to deepen the work and continue to investigate because we believe that more things will emerge.
Adriano Diogo and Sebastiao Neto, former prisoner and researcher, spoke with PageI12 about this story that remained hidden for decades.
Volkswagen hired Franz Stangl knowing he was a Nazi?
We were convinced they knew. Stangl was not a minor war criminal, he was one of the most wanted in the world. The figures of the court that sentenced him to life imprisonment in Düsseldorf speak of 400 thousand dead, but there are authors who attribute the death to 900 thousand people. Brazil was a refuge of Nazis, San Pablo was one of the chosen places, as was Bariloche Argentina with Priebke. In the interior of San Pablo lived during all the dictatorship the doctor Joseph Menguele died in 1979 while it was summering in the beach of Bertioga.
I’m not going to argue with Volkswagen because I’d have to read the arguments they put forward first. What I can say after the Truth Commission’s four years of investigations is that it is at least strange that there is talk of ignorance of someone like Stangl. He was not irrelevant, so much so that the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal came to get him to Brazil. I tell you more, Franz Stangl never hid his identity in Brazil. Volkswagen contracted with its original documents. Stangl worked, organized the information scheme, received salary, remained in the company for 8 years until his deportation in 1967, with his true identity. And the head of Stangl in the plant of San Bernardo of the Field was Friederich Schultz-Wenk, that in his youth had been of the Nazi party.
Was the Nazi, Volkswagen and military bond punctual?
“No, it was structural. Our dictatorship was Germanophile, Volkswagen was the company symbol of the industrial development during the military governments. It was symbolic that the dictator Emilio Garrastazú Médici (1969-1974) gave a car “Fusca” (the “beetle” Volkswagen) to each of the players of the world champion, Pele, in 1970. Garrastazú came the president Ernesto Geisel, from 74 to 79, son of Germans, who was brother of Orlando Geisel, who was chief of the General Staff of the Army.
In 1974 Brazil was governed for the first time by a son of Germans. The most populous Catholic country in the world ruled by a Lutheran general …. are important facts.
The Germanophile character went beyond the Volkswagen, Geisel signed a nuclear agreement with Germany to develop a technology in which Argentina was more advanced. The approach with Germany was also made in heavy industry, in the purchase of German equipment for the large hydroelectric dams.
Did you ask if this proximity between Nazis, businessmen and military was circumstantial? I could give you several examples to prove that it was not.
In the 70s Volkswagen had a very famous president named Wolfhang Sauer, a convinced Nazi, a lord who had the iron cross in his office. The military president Ernesto Geisel, who surely knew of the political sympathies of Sauer, authorized that it was naturalized Brazilian. Does this leave doubt about the structural relationship? This story gives for a book, I do not want to tire it with data.
You have more?
One more. This executive Sauer was the object of a kind of laudatory biography whose preface was written by the former finance minister of the dictatorship Delfim Netto. Delfim was also one of those responsible for raising money from entrepreneurs to pay for the repression, Operativo Bandeirantes, which had the backing of the Federation of Industries of San Pablo, Fiesp.
That he backed the 1964 coup.
-So is. The Fiesp was one of the institutions that thought and organized the coup of 1964, and actively supported the one of 2016 against the president Dilma.
What does Volkswagen’s interest in investigating mean?
I am not in a position to respond because the company opened a survey that promises to conclude this year. Yes I can say that there were lawyers from Volkswagen and many people from the business world when we held the public session of the Truth Commission that dealt with this issue. I can say that there were emissaries, or people who let us know that Volkswagen was interested in postponing that hearing. Nobody told us openly that we had to stop it, they were educated, but the pressure was very strong. They know that this issue has an extraordinary international impact. This is world news.
This year marks the half-century of Stangl prison, how long will it take for justice to be done?
Don’t forget that in Brazil we still have the Amnesty Law left by the military. I believe that with this case you can begin to advance in the search for truth about the dictatorship and its relationship to companies and the Nazis.
The first step was given by the Truth Commission three years ago, despite the obstacles it faced and the indifference of the Brazilian press. This story began to have worldwide repercussion only now, thanks to a documentary of the German television, which gives us strength to continue with our work. Here in Brazil the next step is our Public Ministry decides to open a case on this case, but it is already facing strong pressures.
Are there any more Nazis to discover?
In these issues we must avoid being light because the interests at stake are gigantic, we are talking about Volkswagen, Fiesp, and possibly other multinational companies that acted during the dictatorship. Our suspicion is that Stangl was not the only Nazi who acted in Brazil.