German doubts over media report into death of Nazi war criminal

4th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Der Spiegel said investigators believed the ZDF and NYT report did not provide "any proof of his death" and were continuing to examine "every lead" on the Austrian-born Nazi.

Berlin -- German investigators have doubts over a media report that Nazi war criminal Aribert Heim known as "Doctor Death" died in Egypt in 1992, according to Der Spiegel magazine.

German public television channel ZDF and the New York Times said in February that that Heim died of bowel cancer in 1992, citing his son and acquaintances in Cairo.

But a report by Der Spiegel said investigators believed the ZDF and NYT report did not provide "any proof of his death" and were continuing to examine "every lead" on the Austrian-born Nazi.

In particular, they believe Heim's circle of support during his time on the run was wider than was previously thought and that he received money via wire transfers from Switzerland and the United States and letters and cash from messengers.

German and Austrian police said in February they were seeking to confirm that Heim had died and that they would hunt for his remains if necessary.

But recovering his remains could be complicated because, according to the ZDF and NYT report, Heim's body was disposed of in a paupers' grave where a large number of other corpses were also buried during the intervening 17 years.

Hein became known as "Doctor Death" and the "Butcher of Mauthausen" after performing medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners.

He performed operations without anaesthetics and injected petrol directly into victims' hearts. His cruelty was such that he has frequently been compared to Josef Mengele, the so-called "Angel of Death" who was a doctor at Auschwitz.

In 1945 at the end of World War II he was arrested by the US military but they let him go after two-and-half-years, and he went on to work as a gynaecologist in the picturesque spa town of Baden-Baden.

He worked in the town for around 15 years but he fled in 1962 as the West German authorities were about to arrest him.

German TV showed an interview with Heim's son Ruediger in which he said that his father was dead and that he had lived in Egypt. The journalists also found a dusty briefcase containing a haul of documents.

German police initially accepted the ZDF/NYT report, although the judiciary was more cautious. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem has also said it does not believe the story.

AFP/Expatica

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