German Police to Follow Nazi Dr. Death Lead in Cairo | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 10.02.2009
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German Police to Follow Nazi Dr. Death Lead in Cairo

German police expect clearance from Egyptian authorities by the end of this week to investigate the reported death of a notorious Nazi doctor. He is said to have died in 1992.

Old photo from 1950 of Heim

Heim has been a fugitive since 1964

The world's most wanted Nazi war criminal might have died in Cairo more than 16 years ago. But Nazi hunters and police have chased leads of Aribert Ferdinand Heim for so long that police want to launch an on-site investigation.

A joint investigation Germany's ZDF television and the New York Times newspaper uncovered evidence that the doctor had moved to Cairo about 1964 to escape prosecution for war crimes in Germany, living under the alias Tarek Farid Hussein. His son claims he was with Heim when he died of bowel cancer at 78 in Cairo.

Police want to review evidence

Mosque in Cairo

Police aim to investigate evidence of Heim's death

Baden Wuerttemberg state police, who have never given up their search for Heim, said they expected clearance from Egyptian authorities to examine evidence in Cairo. They want to see a dusty briefcase alleged to be Heim's personal papers, which were kept by the owners of the former Kasr al-Medina hotel in Cairo.

Nazi hunters say they remain concerned that the story is a deliberate falsehood to cover Heim's tracks, but Stuttgart police say they have other evidence that tends to corroborate the ZDF account.

The Stuttgart police are mainly interested in Heim's papers, in German and English, including medical documentation and anti-Jewish essays and letters which he wrote in Cairo.

Argentina turns up no trace

Simon Wiesenthal Center investigator with a picture of Aribert Ferdinand Heim

Simon Wiesenthal Center investigators have searched for Heim for years

Heim had been an ice hockey player in Austria's national team before World War II. During the war, Heim conducted gruesome and lethal experiments on inmates of Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria in 1941. Heim was given the name Dr. Death for injecting concentration camp inmates with gasoline and performing surgery and removing organs without using anesthesia.

He is alleged to have killed hundreds of Jews at Mauthausen, and is the most hunted surviving member of the Nazi regime that killed 6 million Jews during the war.

After the war, he worked as a gynecologist, living a low-key life with his wife and children. Yet as police began to close in on him for war crimes, he fled Germany in 1962. His whereabouts since then have been unknown. Sightings have come in from around the world, although the most credible were from Argentina.

Grave unlikely to yield clues

ZDF last week showed the municipal paupers' grave where Heim's body was most likely deposited: a row of brick kilns with black steel doors where bodies are placed until they rot, then pushed aside to make room for more bodies.

ZDF said it was unlikely 17 years later that any DNA material from Heim could be found in the crypts.

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