A $1-million reward for the capture and extradition of Dr. Josef Mengele, the elusive Nazi war criminal who conducted deadly medical experiments on prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp, was announced Monday by the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.
Martin Mendelsohn, the center's counsel in Washington, D.C., told reporters that the money was pledged by a group of "concerned citizens, outraged that after 40 years the torturer and murderer of 400,000 human beings . . . is still at large."
Under terms of the proposal accepted by the Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center, the reward will be paid only if Mengele is found alive and extradited to West Germany or Israel for trial.
"Under no circumstances will payment be made if Mengele is dead," Mendelsohn said.
The attorney declined to identify those who pledged money for the reward or to say how many are in the secret consortium, but he said the membership includes Southern California residents.
May Be in Paraguay
The million-dollar fund was created in hopes of bringing Mengele to trial, he said.
The new reward brings to $1,375,000 the total amount of money offered for the 73-year-old Mengele, who many think is alive and living in South America, possibly Paraguay. The West German government recently increased its reward for Mengele to $300,000. Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal has been offered $50,000, and Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, a man and wife team of Nazi hunters, have pledged $25,000.
The Wiesenthal Center reward provides that once Mengele is extradited to either West Germany or Israel, $334,000 will be paid to the person or persons who provided information directly leading to his arrest and extradition.
The rest of the fund will be divided equally between the charity designated by the police agency that arrests Mengele and the Wiesenthal Center for its investigating of war criminals and for research on the effects of medical experiments conducted by Nazi doctors.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Wiesenthal Center, described the $1-million reward as a national effort with a widespread constituency.
"We have absolutely no doubt as to the ability to pay the reward, " he said.