Has this Nazi torturer FAKED his own death? Extraordinary theory emerges as sadistic SS doctor is traced to Cairo
Mr Heim says that his father’s body was buried in an anonymous common grave, although he did get a death certificate, a copy of which was recently obtained from the Egyptian authorities and shown to the world last week.
However, there are some who think that the evidence is far from conclusive. Chief among them is Dr Efraim Zuroff, the Israeli director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre — the charitable organisation that tracks down surviving Nazi criminals.
Some have speculated that the story is simply a way for Rüdiger to gain control of his father’s estimated £1 million investments, which were frozen by the German authorities in the Seventies.
And there are good reasons why Heim, knowing investigators were closing in, might have conspired in a last, desperate attempt to elude them. For he may have been part of a whole network of Nazi sympathisers and survivors who have found shelter in the Middle East.
That suggestion is raised by Rüdiger’s admission that one of the reasons why he had helped protect his parent’s new identity was that he did not wish to ‘bring trouble’ for his father’s friends in Egypt.
Whatever the truth, Heim’s case draws attention to the fact that while the global hunt for Nazi war criminals focused on South America — where sympathisers are known to have sheltered men such as Josef Mengele, the ‘Angel of Death’ — many, in fact, were given sanctuary far closer to home, in the Middle East.
The truth is that countries such as Egypt and Syria welcomed perhaps hundreds of such ‘guests’ in the aftermath of World War II.
Most controversial of all, though, are the rumours that the former Egyptian President Colonel Nasser not only offered sanctuary to Nazi war criminals, but actively employed them to help him develop arms that could be used against Israel itself.
The suspicions may, in part, be down to the sheer embarrassment of the Simon Wiesenthal organisation who have devoted years and considerable funds, without success, in the attempt to trace their most wanted man.
Just seven months ago, the Wiesenthal Centre announced fresh leads that Heim was in South America and that it could reveal his hiding place ‘within a couple of weeks’.
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