The German government should examine how a wanted Nazi was able to live for decades in Egypt without being captured or even arousing the suspicion of authorities, said the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The Wiesenthal Center said Germany's Cairo embassy may have known Heim's whereabouts
The Simon Wiesenthal Center demanded Wednesday, Feb. 11, that the German Foreign Ministry "fully investigate the failure of its representatives" to report the whereabouts in Egypt of wanted Nazi war criminal Aribert Heim "and thereby facilitate his capture."
A statement released by the center's Jerusalem office said findings by The New York Times and German public broadcaster ZDF proved that Heim, known as "Dr. Death," submitted an application to extend his stay in Egypt in 1981.
"It is clear that representatives of the German Embassy in Cairo most likely were aware of the Nazi war criminal's residence in Egypt as early as that year, but apparently failed to report this fact to the German judicial authorities, despite the existing arrest warrant for Heim's arrest," the statement said.
The New York Times and ZDF reported earlier this month that Heim died of cancer in Cairo on Aug. 10, 1992.
A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday Berlin was taking the issue "very seriously" and that there would be a "thorough investigation."
Released after WWII
Heim is thought to have brutally murdered hundreds of people
An SS doctor in the Nazi concentration camp of Mauthausen, Heim was accused of killing and torturing hundreds of inmates by various methods, including lethal injections directly into the hearts of his victims.
At the end of World War II, Heim was arrested and later released by the US military. He took up a relatively normal lifestyle as a practicing gynecologist in spa town of Baden-Baden before disappearing shortly before West German police were to arrest him in 1962.
The Wiesenthal Center had placed him at the top of its list of wanted Nazi war criminals still at large.
What did the Cairo embassy know?
The center's Israel director, Efraim Zuroff, called Wednesday for "a thorough investigation by the German Foreign Ministry into the role of its Cairo embassy during the more than three decades that Heim apparently lived in Egypt, along with numerous other Nazi war criminals who were never brought to justice."
Zuroff had thought Heim escaped to South America
"One of the points that was clearly proven in the NYT and ZDF report was that Heim definitely lived in the Egyptian capital for a fairly lengthy period and thus there is a high likelihood that officials of the local German embassy might have been well-aware of his whereabouts," Zuroff was quoted as saying in the Wiesenthal Center statement.
"This should be an important element of a serious investigation of the failure of German officials to capture Heim as well as numerous other Nazi war criminals who found refuge in Egypt after World War II," he continued.
Immediately after the media reports, the center said there was no evidence to prove Heim had in fact died since "we have no body, no DNA, no grave." Finding his remains is likely to be complicated. Last week's reports said his body was buried in a communal grave where many other corpses will have also been disposed of in the intervening 17 years.