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.