August 13, 2009
Cairo Link to Nazi Fugitive Confirmed

BADEN-BADEN, Germany — German police confirmed Thursday that a briefcase filled with documents discovered in Cairo belonged to the Nazi fugitive and concentration camp doctor Aribert Heim. The police could not confirm that he had died in Egypt in 1992 as witnesses there and in Germany said.

Experts working for the police in the German state of Baden-Württemberg found evidence showing that the bag and the papers inside it, including personal letters, financial documents and medical records, must have been in a North African country for many years.

Analysis of dust in the old leather briefcase, handed over to The New York Times and the German television station ZDF by the Egyptian family Dr. Heim lived with at the time of his death, included a particular form of lime that is found in Egypt, as well as the presence of certain micro-organisms supporting its authenticity. Handwriting experts also compared documents from the briefcase with other samples of Dr. Heim’s handwriting.

“The extensive criminal technical analyses of the documents from the briefcase lead us to the conclusion that it actually came from Aribert Heim,” said the police in a statement.

German investigators traveled to Cairo in July to meet with their Egyptian counterparts, who confirmed the veracity of documents showing that Dr. Heim entered Egypt in 1963, months after he fled Germany as police there prepared to arrest him.

Dr. Heim was accused of killing inmates at the concentration camp of Mauthausen in grisly fashion by performing unnecessary fatal operations on prisoners without anesthesia and injecting poison, including gasoline, into the hearts of others.

He took the name Tarek Hussein Farid after converting to Islam, according to witnesses and documents found in the briefcase. Officials in Cairo issued a certified copy of a death certificate under that name, but according to the statement, the police have been unable to confirm that it is one and the same person. German investigators have not had the opportunity to question witnesses in Egypt.

“At what point concrete results can be expected is not yet clear,” the police statement said. Unresolved remains the question of where Dr. Heim’s body was buried. Witnesses said that he was interred in a mass grave after a failed attempt to donate his body for use in scientific research.

“I’m glad that it has been confirmed that my father lived in Egypt and I’m very optimistic that there will be an official confirmation of his death in the near future,” said his son, Rüdiger Heim, in an interview on Thursday. “Aribert Heim will never come back because he is dead,” said Mr. Heim, who has said he was with his father at the time of his death.

In February the police in the German state of Baden-Württemberg said that they had information “from the personal circle” of Dr. Heim, who would now be 95, indicating that he died of rectal cancer in Cairo in 1992. Dr. Mohsen Barsoum, one of the doctors whose names appeared on the medical files found in the briefcase, recalled that he had treated the man he knew as Tarek Farid and that he suffered from an advanced form of the disease.

Efraim Zuroff, the chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that he has no doubt that Dr. Heim lived in Egypt but continued to question whether he had died there as well. “What’s missing for me is really the forensics on the body, this is the problem,” said Mr. Zuroff, in a telephone interview from Jerusalem, where he is based.