Nazi Doctor’s Egyptian Escape

Nazi Doctor’s Egyptian Escape

The German known as Dr. Death fled to Cairo, changed his name, converted to Islam, and died in 1992. The most wanted war criminal's whereabouts was unknown until now. (NYT)

Aribert Ferdinand Heim, wanted for medical atrocities at three Nazi concentration camps, lived in Cairo until his death in 1992. The German was known to locals as Tarek Hussein Farid and belonged to the world-renowned Al Azhar mosque, where he had converted to Islam.

Friends and acquaintances 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: he was a 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.

A dusty briefcase with rusted buckles, sitting nearly forgotten in storage here in Cairo, hid the truth behind Dr. Heim’s flight to the Middle East. Obtained by The New York Times and the German television station ZDF from members of the Doma family, proprietors of the hotel here where Dr. Heim resided, the files in the briefcase tell the story of his life, and death, in Egypt.

CHANNEL: New York Times

By Souad Mekhennet, Nicholas Kulish, Sean Patrick Farrell

Length: 3:53