WASHINGTON (Sep. 7)
A delegation of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith met with Brazilian Ambassador Joao Baptista Pinheiro and expressed concern to him over the “upsurge in Nazi activity” in Brazil. The delegation suggested a Brazilian government program to locate and identify Nazi war criminals before the West German law on war criminals expires next year.
According to Rabbi Marton M. Rosenthal, director of ADL’s Latin American affairs department, there may be thousands of Nazis living in Brazil, which has been described by the Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Globo as “the second largest refuge for ex-Nazis.” He particularly noted the international congress of Nazis’ meeting held in Brazil last April which led to the arrest of Nazi war criminal Gustav Franz Wagner, who, as commander of the Sobibor concentration camp in Poland, was responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of inmates.
Pointing out the Brazilian Supreme Court is now deliberating on extradition requests for Wagner filed by the governments of West Germany, Austria, Poland and Israel, the ADL delegation said it hoped that extradition would be granted and that Wagner would not be released from jail before the court hands down its decision.
The delegation cited as examples of current Nazi activity in Brazil the breaking of windows in synagogues and other Jewish communal structures, Nazi slogans painted on Jewish and public buildings and a display of Nazi flags in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul where the majority of the population is of German origin. They said that there had been anti-Semitic action in six cities of Rio Grande do Sul, starting in Santa Rosa and including the capital, Porto Alegre. The ADL urged that all applicable provisions of Brazilian law be invoked to “punish those responsible and to prevent future anti-Semitic actions.”
Pinheiro told the delegation that Brazil has laws which prohibit racial or religious discrimination and Brazil is proud of its historical record and traditions in this regard. The Ambassador promised to convey to his government the concern and suggestions of the ADL.