Son Says Mengele’s Dead, Tells Why He Kept Silent : Learned of Death in 1979
Josef Mengele’s son broke years of family silence today to say that his father is dead and that he “has no doubt” the infamous Nazi doctor of Auschwitz is the man who was buried in a Brazilian grave.
“I am certain that the medical investigation will confirm this shortly,” Rolf Mengele, 41, said in a statement broadcast by Bavarian Radio and distributed to reporters later.
Rolf Mengele said the family is prepared to furnish evidence of the death, adding:
“I have been silent until now out of consideration for the people who were in contact with my father for the last 30 years,” during most of which the fugitive Nazi was reported to be living among various protectors in South America while receiving money from his family in Bavaria.
“All victims and their relatives have my and our deepest sympathy,” the son said.
Rolf Mengele said he learned the circumstances of his father’s death “at the scene” in 1979, the year the corpse unearthed last Thursday was buried at Embu, 17 miles from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death,” is accused of sending up to 400,000 people to gas chambers and performing ghoulish medical “experiments” at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Rolf Mengele is a lawyer in the southern German city of Freiburg. The family has owned a farm machinery manufacturing company in Guenzburg, a town near Munich, since before World War I.
Israeli Doubt Persists
Some Israelis involved in investigating Nazi war crimes maintained that they do not believe the claim that Mengele is dead.
“This is just a very elegant way to move away from public interest in a matter which is not too pleasant for (the family),” said Gideon Hausner, the prosecutor of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1964.
Justice Ministry spokesman Yitzhak Feinberg said in an official statement: “At present, Israel will continue in its efforts to trace Mengele in order to bring him to justice to Israel. From this you can infer we do not immediately believe the report.”
Rolf Mengele’s lawyer in Frankfurt gave a further statement to prosecutors today, said Hans-Eberhard Klein, chief prosecutor for the Josef Mengele case. He said the statement will be made public Wednesday “at the wish of those concerned.”
Acting on information received from West German authorities, Brazil last week opened a grave in which a man was buried in February, 1979, under the name of an Austrian, Wolfgang Gerhard. The man drowned in a swimming accident.
In Brazil, the policeman in charge of determining whether the remains are those of Mengele said the son’s statement “was not surprising.”
“It is just one more fact that corroborates the information we already had,” said Romeu Tuma, chief of the federal police in Sao Paulo.
Tuma said he had information about “other individuals” in Brazil who sheltered the man said to be Mengele, who is believed to have lived in Brazil for at least 15 years.
He did not name the individuals but said the reported involvement of others “increases suspicion that there was an organized group to protect Mengele.”
A Hungarian immigrant woman and an Austrian immigrant couple in the Sao Paulo area have already said they sheltered Mengele.
A member of the forensic team examining the remains said Monday that a possible fracture in the pelvic bone has strengthened belief that the dead man is Mengele, who reportedly once suffered a broken pelvis. (Story on Page 4.)