German car giant Volkswagen aided Brazil's 1964-85 military government in identifying and persecuting political dissenters among its workforce in the country, a historian commissioned by the group said Monday. "I can say that there was a regular cooperation between the security staff at VW Brazil and the regime's police apparatus," Christopher Kopper of Bielefeld University told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and broadcasters NDR and WDR.
VW bosses commissioned Kopper to research the group's activities in the South American country in November 2016. A spokesman for the car group told AFP Monday that "we should first of all wait for the final report and the results before commenting on them in detail and agreeing on what measures to take". VW's own security staff kept blacklists of left-leaning workers, sharing information with the secret police and helping them arrest VW employees before they were taken to be interrogated, imprisoned or tortured, the three German media outlets said. Reporters cited documents from Volkswagen, the Brazilian and German governments, the former DOPS secret police and a present-day investigation in Sao Paolo.
Attempts in 1979 to raise the issue with the German government and VW bosses in Wolfsburg, northern Germany fell on deaf ears, Sueddeutsche added. Facts uncovered by historians commissioned to look into company histories have not always met with a warm welcome in German boardrooms. VW chief historian Manfred Grieger quit around the same time as Kopper was appointed - reportedly over disagreements about how findings related to subsidiary Audi's activities during the Nazi period were presented. The company denied at the time any suggestion he was forced out.