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The Eternal Nazi

The Eternal Nazi on NPR

April 25th, 2014


I had the opportunity to talk with the great Robert Siegel on NPR’s All Things Considered about Aribert Heim and “The Eternal Nazi.” You can listen to the interview here.

Q&A on The Eternal Nazi with VICE

April 18th, 2014


Many Nazis “escaped unscathed, free to live out the rest of their days pretending to be mild-mannered ex-pats who’d moved to Argentina simply because they preferred empanadas and polo to bratwurst and car manufacturing. One SS member to ultimately escape prosecution was an Austrian concentration camp doctor called Aribert Heim, who later became known as ‘Doctor Death’.”

Read the Q&A here.

BookTV: Hitting the CSPAN

April 12th, 2014


Thanks to BookTV, advice CSPAN and Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Unfinished Business in Rwanda

April 9th, 2014


My colleague in Nairobi, Sudarsan Raghavan of the Washington Post, has an engaging piece about the ongoing search for justice in Rwanda. The small central African nation observed the 20th anniversary of the genocide this week, in which at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus (many put the figure well over a million) were killed in short order, often by friends and neighbors.

“In our lifetime we shall continue to pursue them, and those who come after us will continue to pursue them,” Jean Bosco Mutangana, a Rwandan prosecutor and head of the Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit told Raghavan. “You cannot have reconciliation without real, true justice being done.”

The unit works out of adjacent homes in Kigali, the Rwandan capital. Reading about their work – and Rwandan society’s halting efforts to come to terms with the genocide – reminded me so much of Germany in the 1960s. The equivalent of the Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit, the Central Office in Ludwigsburg, was founded at the end of 1958. A small, dedicated team of prosecutors and police hunted perpetrators but ran into resistance from society at large, as well as colleagues with ties to the National Socialists.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nazi Propaganda: The Eternal Jew

April 2nd, 2014

“Der ewige Jude” – literally “the eternal Jew” – is the German term for the Wandering Jew. According to legend, buy the Wandering Jew mocked Jesus on his way to the cross and was cursed for it, shop forced to walk the earth until the Second Coming.

Before the gas chambers, before Kristallnacht, the attack against European Jews began as a propaganda war. One of the most important salvos was also called “The Eternal Jew,” an exhibition that first opened in Munich in 1937. For months more than 5,000 people a day turned up at the Deutsches Museum to see it. The exhibits conflated anti-Semitic stereotypes with fearmongering about the Soviets.


The exhibition became a book and later one of the most famous Nazi propaganda films. You can view the original documentary with scenes from Polish ghettos here, but be warned that it is virulent propaganda:

SS Dr. Aribert Heim went into hiding one step ahead of investigators in 1962. He fled across Europe and North Africa. Over time there were sightings as far away as Venezuela and Vietnam. Decades after the end of World War II he became a symbol of the perpetrators still out there and eventually the most-wanted Nazi war criminal in the world.

Cairo Nazis and a Champagne Spy

March 24th, 2014


Cairo’s German community had been infiltrated by Israeli intelligence. In 1965, malady Egyptian authorities arrested a wealthy horse breeder and former Wehrmacht officer named Wolfgang Lotz on espionage charges. Lotz threw lavish booze-soaked parties for Egyptian generals, shop cabinet members, and German scientists, rising quickly to the top of Egyptian society while making no effort to dispel rumors that he had been in the SS.

Read the complete excerpt at the Daily Beast

The streets of Cairo

March 23rd, 2014

The Globalist has posted an excerpt from The Eternal Nazi, which includes much of the book’s prologue:

The black-and-white photograph is crossed with lines from two days of folding and unfolding. It has turned gray around the edges from the perspiration on the hands of the various vendors who looked at it.

Dozens had grasped the picture, pulled it closer to examine the face of the middle-aged European man staring into the camera with a hint of a smile. The photograph so far has earned mostly puzzled looks and the same probing question. “Why,” they ask, pointing at the enlargement of an old passport picture, “why are you looking for him?”

Continue reading the excerpt here

Searching for a lost father – and the truth

March 22nd, 2014


Rüdiger Heim arrived in Egypt in December 1975 to meet his father for the first time since he was six years old…

There are a number of dramatic narratives in the story of Aribert Heim and the effort to bring him to justice. One of them is a family story. When he graduated from high school Rüdiger barely remembered his father, healing who left before his seventh birthday. To find him he would have to travel alone to the banks of the Nile. The Atlantic just published an excerpt from the book that pulls together his story. Check it out.

The Eternal Nazi: The Preview

March 20th, 2014

Coming soon.

The Eternal Nazi is coming

March 19th, 2014

It was a little more than five years ago that Souad Mekhennet and I wrote a story about the world’s most-wanted Nazi fugitive, Dr. Aribert Heim. Authorities sought the former SS physician, accused of terrible crimes at Mauthausen concentration camp, in Chile. We discovered that he had been hiding not in South America but in Egypt. The Aryan former ice-hockey champion was living under the name Tarek Hussein Farid, a humble convert to Islam in a working class district of Cairo. In less than a week Doubleday will publish the book. In the meantime here is the article that started it all:

CAIRO — Even in old age the imposingly tall, athletic German known to locals as Tarek Hussein Farid maintained the discipline to walk some 15 miles each day through the busy streets of Egypt’s capital. He walked to the world-renowned Al Azhar mosque here, where he converted to Islam, and to the ornate J. Groppi Cafe downtown, where he ordered the chocolate cakes he sent to friends and bought the bonbons he gave to their children, who called him Uncle Tarek.

Friends and acquaintances here in Egypt also remember 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: Uncle Tarek was born Aribert Ferdinand Heim, a member of Hitler’s elite Waffen-SS and a 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 by the Simon Wiesenthal Center to be at large.

Continue reading the original article