Germans Corroborate Reports of Nazi Doctor's Death in Egypt

German investigators said Thursday that they had independent information corroborating reports that the most-wanted Nazi fugitive in the world, the concentration camp doctor Aribert Heim, had died in Egypt in 1992.

Horst Haug, a spokesman for the police in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, said that the police had information "from the personal circle" of Dr. Heim, who would now be 94, indicating that he died of rectal cancer in Cairo. In a statement issued jointly by the state police and the regional court in Baden-Baden, Dr. Heim's last known address in Germany, officials said they would work with Egyptian authorities to try to locate and identify the remains of Dr. Heim, a fugitive and accused war criminal.

Citing witnesses, including Dr. Heim's son Rüdiger Heim, The New York Times and the German television station ZDF reported Wednesday that Dr. Heim had died in Cairo in 1992.

Mr. Haug said that the police's information came from a separate source and was received at the beginning of the week. He declined to reveal the source.

Dr. Heim, who was born in Austria, was accused of killing hundreds of people, mainly Jews, while working at a concentration camp in Austria, earning him the nickname Dr. Death. He fled Germany in 1962 just as a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Egyptian authorities issued a certified copy of a death certificate in the name of Tarek Hussein Farid -- the name Dr. Heim lived under in Egypt. And documents left behind in a briefcase included records related to his cancer treatment. But witnesses said that his body had been buried in a mass grave after a failed attempt to donate it for use in scientific research.

Efraim Zuroff, the chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who is based in Jerusalem, said in an interview by telephone that he had no doubt that Dr. Heim had lived in Egypt but that he "had serious doubts" about whether he had died there.

"There are too many question marks here," Mr. Zuroff said. "The scenario is almost too perfect to be believed, in terms of his death. No body, no grave, no DNA, the most important test there is."

In an interview in his Cairo office last month, Dr. Mohsen Barsoum, one of the doctors whose names appeared on the medical files found in the briefcase, said that he remembered treating Dr. Heim. He said that Dr. Heim spent a year under his observation and that the cancer was advanced. After looking at a copy of a prescription he had written he said: "I'm sure he was Stage 4. It was not an early case."

Asked how he could remember so clearly one patient from nearly two decades before, Dr. Barsoum replied: "He was a peculiar case. In your career, some people have special features."

[Source: By Nicholas Kulish, New York Times, 05Feb09]

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