Associated Press
Aribert Heim

Nazi Criminal "Dr. Death" May Have Died in Egypt, But Some Are Skeptical

February 07, 2009 10:00 AM
by Josh Katz
Authorities in Germany say they have new information confirming that Aribert Heim died in Egypt, but Efraim Zuroff, who has pursued many other Nazi criminals, is suspicious.

German Authorities to Confirm Heim's Death in Egypt

German investigators said Thursday that they have information confirming the death of the most-wanted Nazi war criminal in the world. They said that Aribert Heim, known as “Dr. Death,” died of intestinal cancer in 1992 while living in Egypt.

Horst Haug, spokesman for a Baden-Wuerttemberg state police unit in Germany, said that a person “close to Aribert Heim” validated reports of the criminal’s death. Officials now believe that he adopted an Arab name in Cairo, learned the language and converted to Islam while he was living in the country evading capture, according to the Associated Press.

But the German police still say they want to uncover the body in Egypt to be sure. Heim allegedly died in a Cairo hotel, and the police are looking at documents discovered in the briefcase that the doctor’s son, Ruediger Heim, says belonged to his father. The New York Times and the German television station ZDF reported Wednesday that they had found the documents. His son also confirmed reports that his father used the alias Tarek Hussein Farid.

According to German television station ZDF, Heim was buried in a Cairo cemetery “where graves are reused after several years and so it is unlikely remains will be found,” AP reports.

“There are too many question marks here,” Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said, according to The New York Times. “The scenario is almost too perfect to be believed, in terms of his death. No body, no grave, no DNA, the most important test there is.”
Egypt was an ideal hideout for Heim because the country sympathized with Germany during World War II, according to AP. People in Egypt wanted Germany to free them from British rule after the war.

Last summer, Heim’s son wanted his father to be declared legally dead so he could inherit an estimated €1.2 million. He said he would donate the money to charity and AP writes that “he may try again to have him declared dead."

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Background: "Dr. Death"

Aribert Heim, known as Dr. Death, tops the charts of The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of “Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals.” He would now be 94 years old.

Holocaust survivors say that Heim tested the limits of a human pain by removing subjects’ body parts and carrying out operations without anesthetics. At the Mauthausen concentration camp, he allegedly preferred injecting “petrol, water or poison” into the hearts of the victims.

He tortured many inmates before he killed them at Mauthausen, and he used body parts of the people he killed as decorations,” Zuroff said, according to the BBC.

In July 2008, Zuroff said Heim was most likely living in Chile, where his daughter lives, or in Argentina. A German bank still held just less than $2 million in Heim’s name, unclaimed by his family, substantiating the notion that he is still alive.

Related Topics: Recent developments with accused Nazi war criminals

Zuroff has been trying to bring Nazi war criminals to justice under Operation Last Chance, and he has faced opposition along the way.

In June, he charged Austria with shielding 95-year-old Milivoj Asner, who ranks fourth on the center’s list, the Associated Press reported on June 20, 2008. Austria called Asner an “upstanding” citizen who should live the end of his life peacefully; he “stands accused of persecuting hundreds of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies and dispatching them to their deaths in WWII-era Croatia, which was ruled by a Nazi puppet regime.”

On Feb. 26, 2008, Denmark indicated 86-year-old former Nazi SS officer Søren Kam. But Munich courts refused to extradite him as a German citizen.

And John Demjanjuk, accused of being “Ivan the Terrible,” has been extradited numerous times, even though at one point a U.S. court said he was not Ivan the Terrible but a different war criminal. But on Feb. 4, 2008, a U.S. appeals court upheld a deportation order for Demjanjuk.

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