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.

Conference on Gender & Humanitarianism at the Leibniz Institute of European History

Crossposted from EuropeAcrossBorders

The international conference at the Leibniz Institute of European History discusses the relationship between gender and humanitarian discourses and practices in the twentieth century. In particular, it analyzes the ways in which constructions and ideologies of gender shaped and were shaped by humanitarian practices, interactions, ideas, bodies, and institutions on local, regional, national and/or global scales. By introducing the analytical category of gender into the historical study of humanitarianism, the conference discusses how (hierarchical) relations between men and women, social and cultural constructions of masculinity/femininity and gendered conceptions of human bodies worked out in the various types of humanitarian organizations (e.g. IOs, NGOs, networks, aid agencies, churches), campaigns, perceptions, works and subjectivities. Focusing on the time between the First World War and the end of the Cold War, the conference concentrates on a period that not only witnessed a great expansion of humanitarian action worldwide but also saw fundamental changes in gender relations and the gradual emergence of gender-sensitive policies in humanitarian organizations in many Western and non-Western settings.

Convenors: Esther Möller (Mainz), Johannes Paulmann (Mainz) and Katharina Stornig (Giessen)

Programmflyer-Gender-and-Humanitarianism (pdf)

Programme

 Thursday June 29, 2017

14.00–14.30    Esther Möller (Mainz), Johannes Paulmann (Mainz), Katharina Stornig (Giessen): Welcome and Introduction

I. Masculinities and Femininities in Humanitarian Discourse and Practice (Chair: Ulrike Weckel, Giessen)

14.30–15.30     Inger Marie Okkenhaug (Volda): Gender and Humanitarian Practices after World War I: Female Scandinavian Relief Workers and Armenian Women Refugees in Lebanon and Syria

15.30–16.30     Maria Lidola (Konstanz): Gender and the Formation of Humanitarian Discourse in the Global South: The Specific Case of Cuban Medical Missions

16.30–17.00     Coffee break

17.00–18.00    Bertrand Taithe (Manchester): Masculine Character and Heroics in Humanitarian Aid: A Long Perspective

18.00–19.00    Kerrie Holloway (London): Where are all the Men in Humanitarian History? A Re-assessment of Field Workers during the Spanish Civil War

20.00                Conference Dinner

Continue reading