BERLIN–The world's most wanted Nazi war criminal, Dr. Aribert Heim, thought until now by some to be still alive, died in Cairo in 1992 after converting to Islam, German television station ZDF said yesterday.
The state-run broadcaster said that in a joint investigation with the New York Times, it had discovered Heim spent nearly 30 years in Cairo, having become a Muslim in the early 1980s and assumed the name Tarek Farid Hussein.
Heim, nicknamed "Dr. Death" for killing hundreds of inmates at Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria with injections of toxins to the heart, had been missing since evading West German police in 1962.
An Austrian doctor with Adolf Hitler's infamous SS, Heim is said to have removed organs from victims without anaesthetic. He kept the skull of a man he decapitated as a paperweight.
A U.S. war crimes investigating team took testimony about his crimes from Josef Kohl, a former Mauthausen inmate, in 1946.
"Dr. Heim had a habit of looking into inmates' mouths to determine whether their teeth were in impeccable condition," Kohl said, according to a transcript of the interview.
"If this were the case, he would kill the prisoner with an injection, cut his head off, leave it to cook in the crematorium for hours, until all the flesh was stripped from the naked skull and prepare the skull for himself and his friends as a decoration for their desks."
ZDF said that Heim died of rectal cancer on Aug. 10, 1992, when he would have been 78 years old.
In footage from a documentary due to be aired this evening, ZDF showed Heim's son, Ruediger Heim, admitting his father spent years in Cairo. Excerpts broadcast yesterday showed investigators talking to people who knew Heim in Cairo, and photographs of him attached to official documents in Arabic. The investigation obtained more than 100 documents Heim kept in his Cairo hotel room, the report said.
Heim was captured by U.S. forces near the end of World War II, but released in late 1947.
He practised medicine in West Germany until coming to the attention of war crimes investigators.
Reports have periodically surfaced in recent years about Heim's supposed whereabouts.
At the headquarters of the Baden-Württemberg state police in Stuttgart, small magnets freckle a world map, marking spots where clues or sightings were reported. Investigators appear to have come close to his hiding place in Egypt.
"There was information that Heim was in Egypt working as a police doctor between 1967 and the beginning of the '70s," said Joachim Schack of the state police. "This lead proved to be false."
According to his son, Heim drove through France and Spain before crossing into Morocco, and eventually settling in Egypt.
In Cairo, he was funded by money transferred at irregular intervals by his sister, ZDF said. The funds were drawn from a rented property in Berlin that belonged to Heim.
ZDF said Heim's friends and colleagues in Egypt had been unaware of his past. According to them, he asked for his body to be donated to medical research at his death.
But ZDF said this did not happen, for religious reasons.
It is believed Heim's body was buried in a pauper's cemetery near Cairo's old town, the broadcaster said. Such graves are freed up again after a few years, so the chances of finding his remains are slight.
Reuters with files from New York Times
Commentary by the ottawa mens centre
Every day, underbelly members of ontario's Black Gowned Family Court Judiciary, issue virtual indefinite sentences of torture, Fathers simply because of an accident of birth being born male, are ordered never to see their children again with infamous Power orders or Sheffield orders that permanently deprive fathers of the right to ask the court for access to their children, the orders are insidious hideous draconian orders that rival that of the Salem Witch hunts, at least those witches got a trial, fathers in Ontario are regarded as sub human, deserving only of Ontario's concentration camps called jails. See www.OttawaMensCentre.com