Thursday, February 5, 2009

End Of Hunt For Nazi Doctor?

CAIRO — Even in old age the imposingly tall, athletic German known to locals as Tarek Hussein Farid maintained the discipline to walk some 15 miles each day through the busy streets of Egypt’s capital. He walked to the world-renowned Al Azhar mosque here, where he converted to Islam, and to the ornate J. Groppi Cafe downtown, where he ordered the chocolate cakes he sent to friends and bought the bonbons he gave to their children, who called him Uncle Tarek.

Friends and acquaintances here in Egypt also remembered him as an avid amateur photographer who almost always wore a camera around his neck, but never allowed himself to be photographed. And with good reason: Uncle Tarek was born Aribert Ferdinand Heim, member of Adolf Hitler’s elite Waffen-SS, and medical doctor at the Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Mauthausen concentration camps.

It was behind the gray, stone walls of Mauthausen in his native Austria that Dr. Heim committed the atrocities against hundreds of Jews and others that earned him the nickname Dr. Death and his status as the most-wanted Nazi war criminal still believed to be at large by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Dr. Heim was accused of performing operations on prisoners without anesthesia; removing organs from healthy inmates, then leaving them to die on the operating table; injecting poison, including gasoline, into the hearts of others; and taking the skull of at least one victim as a souvenir. After living below the radar of Nazi hunters for more than a decade after World War II — much of it in the German spa town of Baden-Baden where he had a wife, two sons and a medical practice as a gynecologist — he escaped capture just as investigators closed in on him in 1962.

His hiding place, as well as his death in 1992, have remained unknown until now. (Source: NYT)

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