ANTI-SEMITISM DURING BRAZILIAN MILITARY DICTATORSHIP
For many years, in Brazil, the counterpart of the German Nazi Party was the Integralist (Partido Integralista). With the advent of the military coup, in the year 1964, the Integralists reunited into a powerful, but covert, political entity, though, during the Second World War, there had been established a Nazi Party, it was restricted to those people having German descent; one must remember that Adolf Hitler also targeted “Latinos” as inferiors. So that, it was with the inferiors, that the Integralist Party formed its ranks, and only when the civilian dictator Getulio Vargas, shut the Nazi Party, did the “ayrians” join integralism, before the end of Second WW.
I would not say that the Brazilian Military government had anti-Semitism into its platform, but they eased the way for the reorganization of integralism after the 1964 coup, in the name of anticommunism. However, in Southern Brazil, the Integralists found lots of anti-Semite followers, who tried with only partial success, to push the central military commanders against Jews.
There is a huge Arab community in Brazil, among them, some Syrian activists that see Jews as foes of the Muslim World. Of course,” the Americans are all “Jews” too! In the aftermath of Six Day Middle East War, a strong anti-Semitic movement, partially tied to integralism, grew out of the Arab ranks. The shortage of oil, also made the military government looks somehow favorable to the anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist (read “anti-Judaism”) movement, which ran a hostile environment against the Jewish community.
THE BRAZILIAN ATOMIC BOMB
The Brazilian military regime had apparently the intention of making the A-bomb, to protect the country from imaginary enemies, because no- neighboring country is a real menace to Brazil. In fact, in Brazil’s House of Representatives, one Congressman expressed an opinion, that the Guyana should be invaded and added to Brazilian territory, but no other turmoil over territories is or was present, involving Brazil and its neighbors.
As a first step, an atomic agreement with Germany was made in the government of General Ernesto Geisel. According to a confidential report that circulated in the capital Brasília, the Jews, “traditional enemies of the German people” were blamed for trying to avoid the signature of the atomic package with Germany. As the military rulers high ranks knew for many years, before, that Germany would be the “ideal” nuclear partner, the military regime had been since 1969 singling Jewish physicists and trying to neutralize them, because “they are a problem to the government”—as I was told by a senior Army member, sometime ago. The most evident case was that of Professor Mario Schemberg, ousted of the University of São Paulo, the most important institution of higher education in Brazil. As I will explain below, Prof. Marcelo Samuel Berman, then the youngest faculty member teaching in a Latin American university, suffered persecution for being a Jewish physicist.
Jewish Journalists were also targeted; the most important known case was the assassination of Vladimir Herzog, in a clear anti-Semitic case. The government insisted that he had been arrested for investigative purposes, and he had committed suicide. When he was buried in the Jewish cemetery, the rabbi Henri Sobel, born in the USA, told publicly that Herzog did not commit suicide.
THE REHABILITATION LAW
Trying to rescue the people who suffered in the hands of the military regime, losing jobs, being imprisoned, etc., the post revolutionary democratic governments, with the support of Brazilian House of Representatives, launched an amnesty law, whereby all those that were persecuted by the military regime, could receive compensation, by means of life pensions, and, for those who lost their positions or jobs, a retroactive amount, considering the salaries that they would have earned, if they had not lost their jobs.
The Ministry of Justice handles such cases, and the physicist Prof. Marcelo Samuel Berman, then a 22 year-old Jewish teacher in the Federal University of Paraná, in Southern Brazil, will have his request for the amnesty solved in the next days, after Dr. Henrique de Almeida Cardoso will present his decision in this case, to the Justices in charge. Anti-Semites have tried to diverge, by arguing that the report of Federal Police and the Army Intelligence Agency say that Dr. Berman was not found in any of the presently available lists of suspects of subversive or communist activities at that time, nor in the surviving available lists of those persons being put under surveillance by the military regime. Lawyer Luisa de Pinho Vale counterattacks, by arguing that most documents on the military regime persecutions were destroyed long ago, in order to protect the military persons who committed those crimes against Jews and other innocent people. In addition, the ranks of those agencies, are still integrated by many officers of the old times, and collaborated towards the discriminations, assassinations, and imprisonments of the dictatorship.
According to spokesmen of the former military government, the many people who disappeared during the dictatorship, and never were found again, changed their identity and escaped to the Soviet Union, or died from natural causes. For those alive, the amnesty will mean final rehabilitation---even if the agents who worked for the military do not agree that those who asked for the reparation through the amnesty law were never persecuted or even investigated by the military.