In February, German and US media reported they had found evidence that Aribert Heim, the Nazi war criminal known as "Dr. Death," had died in Egypt of cancer in 1992. But German police who have reviewed the documents have their doubts, SPIEGEL has learned.
German police have their doubts about whether Aribert Heim, the Nazi war criminal reported in February to have died of cancer in 1992, is really dead.
Specialists of the regional criminal police force in the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg have examined documents found by journalists in an old briefcase in Cairo and don't believe that the papers constitute "evidence of the death" of Heim, SPIEGEL has learned.
New information from the police's own sources in Germany and abroad as well as inconsistencies in the claims that he died in Egypt have led German police to continue "investigating in all directions," a police source told SPIEGEL.
Journalists for German public broadcaster ZDF and the New York Times reported in February that Heim had died of cancer in 1992. They had found a briefcase containing Heim's personal documents and the son of the doctor who treated Heim for cancer had confirmed the death.
German investigators are now sure that Heim had more helpers than previously assumed in his decades-long flight from authorities. He received money through bank transfers from the US and Switzerland and via couriers who handed him cash and letters.
He is believed to have been tricked out of a large sum of money at one point when he tried to buy real estate in Egypt via intermediaries.
Heim was an Austrian medical doctor in the SS and is alleged to have killed hundreds of concentration camp inmates during World War II by conducting experiments such as injecting toxic compounds into their hearts.
Heim had topped the most wanted list of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem but in their annual report released last month, the Nazi hunters attached a question mark to his name following the reports of his death.
The Wiesenthal Center's report said: "New evidence suggests that he may have died in Cairo in 1992, but serious doubts regarding these findings and the fact that there is no corpse to examine raises doubts as to the veracity of this information."
Heim was arrested by US troops in 1945 and held for more than two and a half years, but for unknown reasons he was never prosecuted.
He worked as a gynaecologist in Germany until 1962, when it was reported he fled after receiving a tip-off about his impending arrest.
Meanwhile German prosecutors are still waiting for the US to deport John Demjanjuk, accused of having helped murder 29,000 Jews as a guard in the Sobibor death camp in 1943.
Demjanjuk is waging a legal battle to stop his deportation to stand trial in Germany.