Search for 'Dr Death' Ends: Nazi War Criminal Aribert Heim Declared Dead
For decades, investigators searched in vain for Aribert Heim, a notorious Nazi war criminal known as "Dr. Death." On Friday, a court in Baden-Baden officially declared Heim dead. He is believed to have lived for years undetected in Egypt, where he converted to Islam.
A photo of Aribert Heim taken in 1950 that was used in efforts to capture the suspected Nazi war criminal.
Few of the Nazi war criminals who escaped prosecution after the war were the subject of so many rumors, stories and speculation as Aribert Heim. For decades, the former concentration camp doctor, who was called "Dr. Death" and the "Butcher of Mauthausen" for his brutality, had been one of the most sought after Nazis. The question of whether Heim was still alive kept police, judges, Nazi hunters and the media occupied for decades.
Heim had topped the list of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's most-wanted Nazi war criminals. During World War II, Heim is believed to have murdered more than 300 people in a grisly manner at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. Among other things, he had been charged with injecting gasoline into patients' bodies near their hearts and operating on people without anaesthesia.
After the war, Heim remained in Germany, working as a doctor at a gynaecological practice in Baden-Baden until 1962, when he went into hiding. In 1979, the public prosecutor's office in Baden-Baden pressed charges against Heim and issued an international arrest warrant.
In 2007, German investigators intensified their search for Heim, monitoring family and friends of the war criminal more closely in Austria and Spain. Together, private individuals and public institutions had offered a six-figure bounty on information leading to Heim's capture.
Suspect Lived for Decades in Egypt
The jury court said Friday it believed that Heim left Germany in 1963 using his second name Ferdinand and that he traveled to Egypt on a tourist visa. He then lived in hiding in Cairo for decades using the name. In 1980, he apparently converted to Islam and then assumed the name Tarek Hussein Farid. They believe he died at the age of 78 on Aug. 10, 1992 in Cairo.
After initial doubts, criminal investigators in the state of Baden-Württemberg now believe the documents are authentic. In addition, Heim's defense attorney also presented investigators with further documents including a certificate indicating he had converted to the Muslim faith.
The court also heard testimony from Heim's son, who officials said had given credible statements. The judges on Friday said they have no doubt that Heim and Tarek Hussein Farid are the same person and that he died of cancer-related complications in 1992.
dsl -- with wires
Stay informed with our free news services:
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2012
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH
MORE FROM SPIEGEL INTERNATIONAL
German PoliticsMerkel's Moves: Power Struggles in Berlin
World War IITruth and Reconciliation: Why the War Still Haunts Europe
EnergyGreen Power: The Future of Energy
European UnionUnited Europe: A Continental Project
Climate ChangeGlobal Warming: Curbing Carbon Before It's Too Late