|Birth name||Aribert Ferdinand Heim|
28 June 1914|
Bad Radkersburg, Austria-Hungary
|Died||10 August 1992
|Years of service||1940–1945|
|Unit||Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
6th SS Mountain Division Nord
Aribert Ferdinand Heim (28 June 1914 – 10 August 1992) was an Austrian SS doctor, also known as Dr. Death. As an SS doctor in a Nazi concentration camp in Mauthausen, he was accused of killing and torturing many inmates by various methods, such as direct injections of toxic compounds into the hearts of his victims. He lived for many years in Cairo, Egypt under the alias of Tarek Farid Hussein and died there on 10 August 1992. In 2009, a BBC documentary stated that German police had found no evidence of Heim's death on their recent visit to Cairo; however, three years later, a court in Baden-Baden confirmed that Heim had died in 1992, based on evidence provided by his family and lawyer.
Heim was born in Bad Radkersburg, Austria-Hungary. He was the son of a policeman and a housewife. He studied medicine in Graz, receiving his doctorate in Vienna, joining the SS after the Anschluss. He volunteered for the Waffen-SS in the spring of 1940, rising to the rank of Hauptsturmführer (Captain).
Mauthausen concentration camp
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The prisoners at Mauthausen called Heim "Dr. Death", or the "Butcher of Mauthausen" for his cruelty. He was known there for operating on tied up people without anaesthesia. For about two months (October to December 1941), Heim was stationed at the camp called Ebensee near Linz (Austria), where he carried out experiments on Jews similar to those performed at Auschwitz by Josef Mengele. According to Holocaust survivors, Jewish prisoners were poisoned with various injections directly into the heart, including petrol, phenol, available poisons or even water, to induce death. He is reported to have removed organs from living prisoners without anesthesia, killing hundreds. According to a former camp inmate, an 18-year-old Jewish man came to the clinic with a foot inflammation. He was asked by Heim why he was so fit. He replied that he had been a football player and swimmer. Instead of treating the prisoner's foot, Heim placed him under anaesthesia, cut him open, took apart one kidney, removed the second and castrated him. The man was decapitated and Heim boiled the flesh off the skull for use as a paperweight and display.
On 15 March 1945 Heim was captured by US soldiers and sent to a camp for prisoners of war. He was released and worked as a gynecologist at Baden-Baden until his disappearance in 1962; he had telephoned his home and was told that the police were waiting for him. Having been questioned on previous occasions, he surmised the reason (an international warrant for his arrest had been in place since that date) and went into hiding. According to his son Rüdiger Heim, he drove through France and Spain onward to Morocco, moving finally to Egypt via Libya. After Alois Brunner (Adolf Eichmann's top assistant), Heim had been the second most wanted Nazi officer.
In 2006, a German newspaper reported that he had a daughter, Waltraud, living on the outskirts of Puerto Montt, Chile who said he died in 1993. However, when she tried to recover a million-dollar inheritance from an account in his name, she was unable to provide a death certificate.
In August 2008, Heim's son Rüdiger asked that his father be declared legally dead, in order to take hold of his assets; he intended to donate them to projects working to document the atrocities committed in the camps.
After years of apparently false sightings, the circumstances surrounding Heim's escape, life in hiding and death were jointly reported by the German broadcaster ZDF and the New York Times in February 2009. They reported that he lived under a false name, Tarek Farid Hussein, in Egypt and that he died of intestinal cancer in Cairo in 1992.
In an interview at the family’s villa in Baden-Baden his son Rüdiger admitted publicly for the first time that he was with his father in Egypt at the time of his death. Heim says it was during the Olympics, and that he died the day after the games ended. According to Efraim Zuroff, Rüdiger Heim had - until the publishing of the ZDF research results - constantly denied having any knowledge of the whereabouts of Aribert Heim. The German police authorities are still investigating to this day, since there is no sufficient evidence of Aribert Heim's death.
On 8 June 2001, a lawyer issued a statement to a Berlin courthouse in which he claimed to be in contact with Aribert Heim. On 18 March 2009, the Simon Wiesenthal Center filed a criminal complaint due to suspicion of false testimony.
Sightings and investigations
In the years since his disappearance, Heim was the target of a rapidly escalating manhunt and ever-increasing rewards for his capture. Following his escape there were reported sightings in Latin America, Spain and Africa, as well as formal investigations aimed at bringing him to justice, some of which took place even after he had apparently died in Egypt. The German government offered €150,000 for information leading to his arrest, while the Simon Wiesenthal Center launched Operation Last Chance, a project to assist governments in the location and arrest of suspected Nazi war criminals who are still alive. Tax records prove that, as late as 2001, Heim's lawyer asked the German authorities to refund capital gains taxes levied on him because he was living abroad.
Heim reportedly hid out in South America, Spain and the Balkans, but only his presence in Spain has ever been confirmed. He was alleged to have moved to Spain after fleeing Paysandú, Uruguay, when he was located by the Israeli Mossad. Efraim Zuroff, of the Wiesenthal Center, initiated an active search for his whereabouts, and in late 2005, Spanish police incorrectly determined that he was located in Palafrugell. According to El Mundo, Heim had been helped by associates of Otto Skorzeny, who had organised one of the biggest ODESSA bases in Franco's Spain. Press reports in mid-October 2005 suggested that Heim's arrest by Spanish police was "imminent". Within a few days, however, newer reports suggested that he had successfully evaded capture and had moved either to another part of Spain or else to Denmark.
According to a 2007 publication by former Israeli Air Force Colonel Danny Baz, Heim was kidnapped from Canada and taken to Santa Catalina off the Californian coast, where he was killed by a Nazi-hunting team codenamed "The Owl" in 1982. Baz himself claims to have been part of this group. The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, as well as the French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld say this is not true.
On 6 July 2008 Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi-hunter, headed to South America as part of a public campaign to capture the most wanted Nazi in the world and bring him to justice, claiming that Heim was alive and hiding in Patagonia, either in Chile or in Argentina. He elaborated on 15 July 2008 that he was sure Heim was alive and the groundwork had been laid to capture him within weeks.
In 2012, a regional court in Baden-Baden confirmed that Heim died under the assumed identity of Tarek Hussein Farid in Egypt in 1992, based on evidence that his family and lawyer had presented.
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- (French) Baz, Dany (2007). Ni oubli ni pardon: Au coeur de la traque du dernier nazi. Grasset & Fasquelle. ISBN 2-246-70621-1.
- Nazi-Avenging Tell-All Met With Cries of ‘Baloney’ by Marc Perelman, The Forward, 31 October 2007
- The search for ‘Dr. Death’ (Aribert Heim) continues, Simon Wiesenthal Center, 14 October 2007
- Report: Net closing in on top Nazi criminal Aribert Heim, Haaretz, 28 July 2007
- Nazi hunter looking for 'Dr. Death' in S. America | International | Jerusalem Post
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- Concentration camp doctor Aribert Heim is the most-wanted Nazi war criminal Telegraph.co.uk 30 April 2008
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- The Hunt for Nazi War Criminal Aribert Heim, aka "Dr. Death" Investigation Discovery 10 July 2008
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- N.Y. Times (2009) From the Briefcase of Dr. Aribert Heim: The Personal Archives of the Most Wanted Nazi War Criminal, New York Times, retrieved 4 February 2009 (dozens of Aribert Heim's personal documents have been scanned and are available for viewing on the N.Y. Times' multimedia website)