Volkswagen and Human Rights Violations in Brazil, 1964-1985

Investigations on the role of Volkswagen during military dictatorship: TV-Documentary by Stefanie Dodt and Thomas Aders

Lúcio Bellentani, a former Volkswagen worker, visiting the prison in which he was tortured by Brazilian police after he had been handed over by the Volkswagen security force (Source: ARD-Mediathek)

The German automobile firm Volkswagen is being investigated by public prosecutors in Brazil. Newspaper and TV journalist from NDR, SWR and Süddeutsche Zeitung have now published findings of their own. The excellent TV documentary by Stefanie Dodt and Thomas Aders is available in the ARD-Mediathek with English subtitles and in Portuguese. Lúcio Bellentani, a former worker, says he was arrested in the workshop by factory security and handed over to the Brazilian secret police who took him away for prolongued torture over several months. Carl Hahn, then top manager with the car company, claims that he had no idea that human rights were violated on company ground. He says that there are more important things than investigating the past.

Carl Hahn, former Volkswagen top-manager, who says that there are more important things than investigating the past (Source: ARD-Mediathek)

The company’s press officer does not wish to make a statement on the accusation as long as the investigations are ongoing. The journalist team of investigators base the documentary on interviews but also on archival files. They contain a large number of reports on Volkswagen do Brasil workers the company regularly sent to the secret police during the dictatorship. This is an exemplary piece of journalistic and archival research.

Watch the documentary here.


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