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W. German Magazine Says It Got 100 Mengele Photos

Times Staff Writer

Editors of a leading West German illustrated magazine said Friday that they have received more than 100 photos of Josef Mengele and dozens of letters and other documents written by the Nazi war criminal and will begin publishing them next week.

The magazine Bunte, based in Munich, is West Germany’s second-largest magazine, with a circulation of 1.2 million.

“We have over 100 pictures of Josef Mengele on the run, in a relaxed atmosphere with family and friends,” said the magazine’s deputy editor, Norbert Sakowski. He said that all material was provided to the magazine personally by Mengele’s only son, Rolf, who practices law in the West German city of Freiburg.

It was in Rolf Mengele’s name that a family statement was issued last Tuesday claiming that Josef Mengele had died in 1979 in Brazil.

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Nothing Paid

Sakowski said the material was given to the magazine and added that he believes the son’s motive is to convince the public that his father is dead. “We didn’t pay a penny for it and he didn’t ask for any money, either,” Sakowski said.

However, Sakowski said that Bunte plans to sell rights to other media outlets interested in using the photos and documents and that proceeds will go to survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. As chief physician at the Nazi camp, Mengele, known as the “Angel of Death,” is held directly responsible for the deaths of between 300,000 and 400,000 prisoners, most of them Jews.

The Mengele material will be published in four to six installments, beginning next Tuesday or Wednesday, Sakowski said. He added that the photos and documents indicate that Mengele traveled to Europe numerous times since he left for South America after World War II.

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One of the photos, showing Mengele with his family on a skiing vacation in Switzerland, was taken “long after 1950,” Sakowski said. The first warrant for Mengele’s arrest was issued by the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office in 1959.

According to Sakowski, the letters are short, mainly typewritten and reflect much of Mengele’s daily routine. “They are of interest if you are trying to reconstruct where he was and what he was doing,” Sakowski said.

No Klein Comment

The documents are also said to contain material on Mengele’s medical problems, including a minor stroke.

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Hans Eberhard Klein, the Frankfurt public prosecutor in charge of the Mengele case, declined to comment on the Bunte claims.

“I will have no comment on that or any other subject relating to the Mengele case until the results of the forensic tests in Sao Paulo are complete,” Klein said.

Sakowski said he believes that the documents and photos are genuine. “There can be no doubt about the photos,” he said. “The family members are recognizable. The envelopes, the handwriting, the postmarks, all leave little doubt that the documents are the real thing.”

He indicated that some of the documents contain references critical of Mengele’s son. “I doubt he would have turned them over if they weren’t genuine,” Sakowski said.

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West Germany’s largest illustrated magazine, Stern, published what it said were diaries of Adolf Hitler two years ago, but the manuscripts later were discovered to be forgeries. The case turned into one of the greatest publishing hoaxes of modern times.

2nd Statement

A second written statement this week issued by the Mengele family specified the nature of the evidence it has said it will hand over to West German prosecutors.

The statement, distributed only to selected news agencies in the West German city of Munich, said that Rolf Mengele would provide, among other things, a photograph of Josef Mengele taken during the 1970s and a sample of his handwriting.

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However, the family’s lawyer, Fritz Steinacker, reached by telephone in Frankfurt, said there will be no contact with the public prosecutor’s office before next week. Rolf Mengele and his family, after several death threats, have remained in seclusion.


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