Hunting Nazi Doctor Heim

9 Jul 2008

In the spring of 1940, Austrian medical doctor Aribert Heim voluntarily joined the Nazi organization Waffen-SS. Between Oct and Dec 1941, he was assigned to the Mauthausen concentration camp, where he performed sadistic experiments on the prisoners, earning him the nick name "Dr. Death". One of the experiments he was accused of conducting was the injection of foreign substance into the prisoners' hearts, such as water, phenol, and various toxic materials. He was also said to have conducted amputations without anesthesia to measure how much pain a human being could endure. He was sought after in 1962 for war crimes, and he went into hiding.

Today, Heim remains one of the most notorious Nazi war criminals still at large. It was believed that he had hidden in Spain, Uruguay, Egypt, Brazil, Switzerland, among other places in the past 40 years.

On 6 Jul 2008, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi-hunter, headed to South America as part of a public campaign after news was released that Heim is believed to be somewhere in Chile or Argentina right now. Zuroff believes that the bounty of 315,000 Euros or US$500,000 offered led to the information he has thus far, and will lead to Heim's capture. "In the past, money has exposed Nazi war criminals, such as Schwammberger in Argentina. This was a great success and we hope to add another one very soon", he said to BBC. On 9 Jul 2008, at Santiago, Chile, Zuroff told NPR that, for those who commit genocide and other crimes against humanity, "even if many years passed, there still will be a serious effort to hold those people accountable for their crimes".

In the next few days, Zuroff will travel across the Andes to San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina as his next stop on what will be his last trip to South America.

For more information:
BBC: On the trail of 'Dr Death'
NPR: Team Hunts Aging Nazi Doctor In South America (audio interview)

Back to Main | Back to 2008 News Index

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