Vladimir Herzog Institute, Brazil

The Vladimir Herzog Institute is a non-profit institution created on July 25, 2009 with the objective of preserving the memory of journalist Vladimir Herzog and promoting actions that attract the attention of society to the social and economic problems of Brazil with emphasis on the consequences of the coup of 1964.

The exhibition Resistir é Preciso … is an idealization of the Vladimir Herzog Institute and aims to tell the story of resistance to the military dictatorship that was implanted in Brazil in 1964 and that remained in power until the indirect election of Tancredo Neves in 1985.

During this period, many workers, students, intellectuals, artists, religious and various others from various sectors of civil society fought for the re-establishment of democracy.

During the fighting thousands of people were arrested and tortured, hundreds were killed and many of them are still missing. To survive, countless Brazilians were forced to exile.

“Resistir é Preciso …” brought together an expressive collection of works of art that show the militancy of artists calling for democracy and denouncing the abuses and crimes of the dictatorship.

In those years, also was born, a press of resistance that expanded in the country, in the clandestinity and in the exile. Many publications of this alternative press were sold on newsstands and, even censored, were imported for resistance to military dictatorship.

“Resistir é Preciso …” will allow young people to get to know the struggles for democratic reconstruction through the time line, which covers the period of 1960 and 1985 and includes striking facts from the political and cultural scene of Brazil and the world.

Vladimir Herzog, born Vlado Herzog (Osijek, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, June 27, 1937 – Sao Paulo, October 25, 1975), was a Brazilian journalist, teacher and playwright.

Herzog was born in the town of Osijek, then Yugoslavia, in 1937, the son of a Jewish couple. During World War II, to escape the anti-Semitism practiced by the puppet state of Croatia, then controlled by Nazi Germany, the family fled first to Italy, where it lived clandestinely until immigrating to Brazil.

Naturalized Brazilian, Vladimir also had passion for the photography, activity that exerted by his projects with the cinema. He went on to sign “Vladimir” because he thought his name sounded exotic to the Brazilians. In the 1970s, he took over the direction of the television journalism department of TV Cultura and was also a journalism professor at the School of Communications and Arts (ECA) at the University of São Paulo (USP).

Vladimir’s name became central to the movement for the restoration of democracy in the country after 1964. Militant of the Brazilian Communist Party, he was tortured and murdered by the Brazilian military regime at the DOI-CODI facilities, at the II Army headquarters, in the municipality of São Paulo, after voluntarily submitting to the agency to “clarify” about their “criminal links and activities.”

Herzog was born in the town of Osijek in 1937 in Yugoslavia (now Croatia), the son of the Jewish couple Zigmund and Zora Herzog. During World War II, to escape the anti-Semitism practiced by the puppet state of Croatia, then controlled by Nazi Germany, that occupied Yugoslavia from 1941, the pair fled first to Italy, where it lived clandestinely helped by some places, deciding later to immigrate with the son to Brazil, after the conflict.

Herzog graduated in Philosophy from the University of São Paulo in 1959. After graduating, she worked in important press agencies in Brazil, such as O Estado de S. Paulo. At that time, he went on to sign “Vladimir”, instead of “Vlado”, for believing that his real name would sound somewhat exotic in Brazil. Vladimir also worked for three years at the BBC in London.

In the 1970s, he took over the direction of the television journalism department of TV Cultura, in São Paulo. He was also professor of journalism at the School of Communications and Arts at USP. At the same time, involved with theater intellectuals, he also acted as a playwright. In his maturity, Vladimir, who was a member of the Brazilian Communist Party, began to act politically in the resistance movement against the military dictatorship.

Vladimir’s name became central to the movement for the restoration of democracy in the country after 1964. Militant of the Brazilian Communist Party, he was tortured and murdered by the Brazilian military regime at the DOI-CODI facilities, at the II Army headquarters, in the municipality of São Paulo, after voluntarily submitting to the agency to “clarify” about their “criminal links and activities.”

Herzog was born in the town of Osijek in 1937 in Yugoslavia (now Croatia), the son of the Jewish couple Zigmund and Zora Herzog. During World War II, to escape the anti-Semitism practiced by the puppet state of Croatia, then controlled by Nazi Germany, that occupied Yugoslavia from 1941, the pair fled first to Italy, where it lived clandestinely helped by some places, deciding later to immigrate with the son to Brazil, after the conflict.

Herzog graduated in Philosophy from the University of São Paulo in 1959. After graduating, she worked in important press agencies in Brazil, such as O Estado de S. Paulo. At that time, he went on to sign “Vladimir”, instead of “Vlado”, for believing that his real name would sound somewhat exotic in Brazil. Vladimir also worked for three years at the BBC in London.

In the 1970s, he took over the direction of the television journalism department of TV Cultura, in São Paulo. He was also professor of journalism at the School of Communications and Arts at USP. At the same time, involved with theater intellectuals, he also acted as a playwright. In his maturity, Vladimir, who was a member of the Brazilian Communist Party, began to act politically in the resistance movement against the military dictatorship.

In 1974, General Ernesto Geisel took over the presidency of the Republic with a speech of political openness (at the time called “distension”), which in practice would mean reducing censorship, investigating allegations of torture and giving greater participation to civilians in government. However, the government faced two misfortunes: the defeat in parliamentary elections and the oil crisis. In addition, General Ednardo D’Ávila Mello, commander of the Second Army, made statements that the Communists would be infiltrated by the government of São Paulo, at the time headed by Paulo Egydio Martins, which created a certain tension between them. In this scenario, the hard line felt threatened, and in 1975 the repression continued strong. The Army Information Center (CIE) turned essentially against the Brazilian Communist Party, of which Herzog was a militant, but did not engage in clandestine activities. Through the journalist Paulo Markun, Herzog even became informed that he would be arrested, but he did not run away.

On October 24, 1975 – the time when Herzog was already journalism director for TV Cultura, following a campaign against his administration, carried out in the Legislative Assembly of São Paulo by the deputies Wadih Helu and José Maria Marin, belonging to the support party of the military regime, ARENA, II Army officers called Vladimir to testify about the connections he had with the Brazilian Communist Party, a party that acted illegally during the military regime. The next day, Herzog spontaneously appeared at DOI-CODI. He was arrested with two more journalists, George Benigno Jatahy Duque Estrada and Rodolfo Oswaldo Konder. In the morning, Vlado denied any connection to the PCB. From there, the other two journalists were taken to a corridor, from where they could hear an order to bring the electric shock machine. To muffle the sound of torture, a radio with loud sound was turned on. Subsequently, Konder was forced to sign a document in which he claimed to have appealed to Vlado “to join the PCB and to list other people who would join the party.” Soon, Konder was taken to torture, and Vlado was no longer seen alive.

The National Information Service received a message in Brasilia that on October 25: “Around 3 pm, journalist Vladimir Herzog committed suicide in DOI / CODI / II Army.” At the time, it was common for the military government to report that the victims of their torture and murder had perished by “suicide”, escape or run over, which gave rise to ironic comments that Herzog and other victims had been “suicidal” by the dictatorship. Journalist Elio Gaspari comments that “suicides of this kind are possible, but rare. In the basement of the dictatorship, they have become common, most of them even.”

According to the Report of Corpse Meeting issued by the São Paulo Technical Police, Herzog had hanged herself with a strip of cloth – the “strap of the overalls that the prisoner wore” – tied to a railing six feet high. It turns out that the overalls of the DOI-CODI prisoners had no belt, which was removed, along with the shoelaces, according to the praxis in that organ. In the report, photos were attached that showed the prisoner’s feet touching the ground, with knees bent – a position where hanging was impossible. There were also two marks on the neck, typical of strangulation.

Vladimir was a Jew, and Jewish tradition orders suicide bombers to be buried in a separate place. But when members of Chevra Kadisha – responsible for preparing the bodies of the dead according to the precepts of Judaism – prepared the body for the funeral, Rabbi Henry Sobel, community leader, saw the marks of torture. “I saw Herzog’s body. There was no doubt that he had been tortured and murdered,” he said. Thus, it was decided that Vlado would be buried in the center of the Israeli Cemetery of Butantã, which meant publicly denying the official version of suicide. The news of Vlado’s death spread, trampling on the press censorship then in force. Sobel would later say: “The murder of Herzog was the catalyst for the return of democracy.”

Years later, in October 1978, federal judge Márcio Moraes, in a landmark sentence, blamed the federal government for Herzog’s death and requested that he verify its authorship and the conditions under which it occurred. However, nothing was done. On September 24, 2012, Vladimir Herzog’s death record was rectified, and it was stated that “death resulted from injuries and ill-treatment suffered by the Second Army – SP (Doi-Codi)” , as requested by the National Truth Commission.

After Institutional Act No. 5 of December 13, 1968, the interreligious act for the death of Vladimir Herzog was the first major manifestation of civil society protest against the practices of the military dictatorship. It gathered thousands of people inside and outside the Cathedral of the Cathedral, in the city of São Paulo. The murder had raised a major religious issue. Jews do not commit suicide inside their cemetery, but outside it. Thus the funeral of Herzog, inside the Israelite cemetery, and the respective ceremony became acts against the military regime.

The then Secretary of State Security Erasmo Dias blocked the entire city with police barriers, preventing access to the Cathedral and traffic in the city, yet people got off their buses and cars and walked to the cathedral in the center of the city . The Praça da Sé itself, situated in front of the cathedral, was totally taken over by policemen, their horses and dogs, who went practically to the sidewalk that separates the steps of the Cathedral. Despite the repression the Mass occurred silently until its end with about eight thousand people in it, and thousands on the staircase who shouting slogans for the return of democracy. At the end, cars without a card threw tear gas bombs at participants trying to get out of the Cathedral in a march, dispersing the movement.

Generating a wave of protests from all the world press, mobilizing and initiating an international process for human rights in Latin America, especially in Brazil, the death of Herzog strongly promoted the movement to end the Brazilian military dictatorship. After Herzog’s death, intellectual groups, acting in newspapers and groups of actors, in the theater, as well as the people, in the streets, among others, engaged in resistance against the dictatorship of Brazil. Faced with the agony of knowing whether Herzog had committed suicide or had been killed by the state, social behaviors and attitudes of revolution were created. In 1976, for example, Gianfrancesco Guarnieri wrote Ponto de Partida, a theatrical show that had the purpose of showing the pain and indignation of Brazilian society in the face of what happened.

On March 15, 2013, Herzog’s family received a new death certificate, replacing the previous definition, “mechanical asphyxia by hanging”, with “injuries and mistreatment”.

On May 20, 2016, after more than 40 years of that and three previous attempts, Herzog’s case has reached the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where it will be tried. It is estimated that the sentence may come out by the end of 2017.

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