Friday, February 6, 2009

Death of a Nazi - 17 Years Later

The medical log used by Aribert Ferdinand Heim [above], a.k.a. "Dr. Death". Heim painstakingly logged the innumerable procedures he inflicted on prisoners in the death campus of Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Mauthausen during World War II.

The New York Times reveals today that Aribert Ferdinand Heim, a member of Adolf Hitler's Waffen-SS and a medical doctor at the Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Mauthausen concentration camps - and one of the last fugitive Nazis unaccounted for - died in hiding in 1992 in Egypt, where he had lived comfortably since barely escaping Israeli authorities in 1962. On a positive note, however, he died of ass cancer, which has to really be painful. And he died of ass cancer in Egypt, not exactly known as the Mecca [pun intended] of health care for the ass, or any other part of your body.

Still, even with the realization that he suffered, nothing he endured can compare with the vicious and heinous acts he committed on thousands of victims during the Holocaust. Nicknamed "Dr. Death", Heim performed operations on prisoners without anesthesia; he removed organs from healthy inmates, then left them to die on the operating table; in others, he injected poison, including gasoline, into their hearts; he even took the skull of at least one victim as a souvenir.

Perhaps even more heinous is the ease with which he lived in post-war Germany for nearly 20 years. He lived in the German town of Baden-Baden as a practicing gynecologist with a wife and two sons. As investigators closed in on him in 1962, he fled by car to France, then Spain, then crossing into Morocco, and eventually settling in Egypt. Once in Egypt, he was able to support himself with money sent by his sister - income he earned on an apartment building he owned in Berlin.

Sadly, the United States actually had Heim in custody immediately after World War II, but inexplicably let him go, apparently unaware that Austrian war-crimes investigators were building a case against him. Shortly after his accidental release, a U.S. war crimes team took testimony about his crimes from Josef Kohl, a former inmate at Mauthausen. On January 18, 1946, Kohl testified:

“Dr. Heim had a habit of looking into inmates’ mouths to determine whether their teeth were in impeccable condition. If this were the case, he would kill the prisoner with an injection, cut his head off, leave it to cook in the crematorium for hours, until all the flesh was stripped from the naked skull, and prepare the skull for himself and his friends as a decoration for their desks.”

Again, dying in a fetid Egyptian slum with ass cancer is in no way equal justice for Heim, but at least he suffered. And, with a little luck, he's suffering still today.

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