Herzog, Vladimir (1937–1975)

views updated

Herzog, Vladimir (1937–1975)

Vladimir Herzog (b. 1937; d. 24 October 1975), a prominent victim of torture under Brazil's repressive military regime. Herzog was a widely respected São Paulo journalist who had worked for the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, for the British Broadcasting Company, and in films. Herzog earned his degree from the University of São Paulo and later taught in its School of Communications. At the time of his death he was the news director of São Paulo's television station TV Cultura.

Brazilian security forces considered Herzog, a Yugoslavian Jew who had emigrated with his family to Brazil, a communist. In September 1975 he voluntarily presented himself for questioning to the local Center for Internal Defense-Department of Internal Order at the headquarters of the Second Army. The following day Herzog's body was returned to his wife with the explanation that he had hanged himself in his cell. Herzog's wife received the body in a sealed coffin and was warned not to open it. Military guards kept a watchful eye over the burial services to ensure that the coffin remained closed.

Herzog's death caused a swift, angry public reaction and became a symbol for supporters of the human rights movement to end state-sanctioned violence in Brazil. Despite government efforts to cover up the incident, Herzog's murder created a national and international scandal for the administration of Ernesto Geisel because of its brutality and anti-Semitic undertones. Geisel, who was already in the process of moving the state apparatus away from brutal repression (distensão), took advantage of the scandal prompted by Herzog's death to neutralize the most repressive elements in São Paulo who were resisting distensão.

See alsoGeisel, Ernesto; Human Rights.


Maria Helena Moreira Alves, State and Opposition in Military Brazil (1985).

Fernando Jordão, Dossie Herzog-Prisão: Tortura e morte no Brasíl (1979).

Report of the Archdiocese of São Paulo, Torture in Brazil (1986).

Lawrence Weschler, A Miracle, a Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Markun, Paulo. Meu querido Vlado. Rio de Janeiro: Objetiva, 2005.

Perosa, Lilian Maria Farias de Lima. Cidadania proibida: o caso Herzog através da imprensa. São Paulo: Sindicato dos Jornalistas Profissionais no Estado de São Paulo: Imprensa Oficial do Estado, 2001.

                                        Sonny B. Davis