The chief investigator pursuing Alois Brunner, one of the world’s most wanted German Nazi war criminals, has said that Brunner died four years ago in Syria, media reported.
“We cannot prove it forensically, but we are certain that is the case,” BBC qouted Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff as saying.
SS captain Brunner, who would now be 102, is accused of deporting 47,000 Jews in Austria, 44,000 in Greece, 23,500 in France and 14,000 in Slovakia to death camps during World War II.
Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, said the information had recently come to light about Brunner’s death and burial in Damascus from a former German secret service agent who had served in the Middle East.
He said the evidence revealed that Brunner was buried in an unknown location in Damascus around 2010 and was unrepentant of his crimes.
In April, Brunner was removed from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s most wanted list, in a move signifying that it considered him to be dead.
Zuroff, who is also a Holocaust historian, said the latest information provided more concrete evidence to support that conclusion.
“Brunner played a key role in the implementation of Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ to murder Jews,” Zuroff said.
In the 1950s, Brunner is believed to have fled to Syria. He later served as an advisor to President Hafez al-Assad and is thought to have instructed his government on torture tactics.
Brunner was in-charge of the Drancy internment camp outside Paris, where Jews rounded up in France were held before being sent to death camps.
An estimated 345 children were among his victims.
Zuroff said Brunner survived at least two Israeli intelligence assassination attempts when he was in Syria in 1961 and 1980.
He said the Syrian civil war made it impossible to know the precise location of Brunner’s grave.