Scepticism over death of Nazi war criminal

Nazi hunters who have spent decades searching for Aribert Heim, a death camp doctor who performed perverse medical experiments on inmates, have expressed serious doubts over recent claims that he is dead. If he were still alive, he would be 94 years old.

Dr Aribert Heim, known at Mauthausen concentration camp as ‘Dr Death’, is said to have died in Cairo in 1992. He had been living in Egypt for the past 30 years and had even converted to Islam.

However, although documents have been found in Cairo which tend to support the claim that he died in 1992 and was buried in a pauper’s grave, there is no body, no corpse, no DNA and no grave, all of which means that both the Simon Weisenthal Institute and the German police are reluctant to close the case at this time.

Dr Aribert Heim, the highest ranking Nazi still being hunted, was a doctor at the notorious Mauthousen concentration camp in Austria. He is wanted in connection with the killing of hundreds of inmates by injecting petrol into their hearts, performing surgery and severing organs without anaesthesia, actions which he himself carefully documented.

On one occasion, a young prisoner went to see him, complaining of an infection. Dr Heim proceeded to anaesthetise the boy and then castrated him, disected one kidney, removed the second and then decapitated the unfortunate youth. He then boiled the head to remove the flesh so he could use the skull as a paperweight.

On other occasions, organs were removed from conscious patients without administering any form of anaesthesia, tattooed skin was removed to make a chair cover and many prisoners were purely injected with various liquids to see how quickly they would die, Dr Heim standing by with a stopwatch.

At the end of the war, Heim was detained briefly by the Americans but, as his name didn’t appear on any wanted list at the time, he was released. He remained in Germany until 1960, taking up gynaecology and practicing medicine in Baden Baden.

Heim was forced to flee Germany in the 1960’s after his past began to catch up with him. Tipped off that the Austrian authorities were about to arrest him, it is believed that he first went to Spain, then Uruguay, where he again practiced as a gynaecologist, and then on to Egypt.

In 1979 he was sentenced ‘in absentia’ for war crimes but was never tracked down, managing to lead a relatively peaceful life despite being on the run.

The documents found in Egypt include a certified copy of a death certificate in the name of Tarek Hussein Farid and Egyptian official records state that Farid died in 1992. The son of Dr Aribert Heim, Rüdiger Heim, has apparently stated that Tarek Hussein Farid was the name being used by his father after his conversion to Islam.

Therein lies another problem for the authorities. Rüdiger Heim has always maintained that he had no contact with his infamous father, but has now stated that he was actually with his father when he died, from rectal cancer, in 1992, and had visited him on many occasions.

Last summer, Rüdiger Heim tried to have his father declared legally dead so that he could take control of an estimated €1.2million in investments in his father’s name, although indicating that he would donate the money to charity.

The Nazi hunters believe that the whole situation is a little too ‘pat’, too convenient for all concerned, hence the scepticism and the desire for absolute proof, such as the discovery of a body and DNA testing. Until such proof is delivered, the case will no doubt remain open.

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