Some Still Skeptical on Mengele Findings
Some of those most closely concerned with the long search for Josef Mengele reacted Saturday with comments ranging from wait-and-see to outright skepticism to Friday’s conclusion of forensic specialists in Brazil that human remains exhumed there June 6 were those of the Nazi death camp doctor.
In Frankfurt, the West German public prosecutor’s office, which led the hunt for Mengele, said it would not give a final verdict on his fate until it had studied evidence from Brazil.
Commenting on the agreement among an international team of experts that the skelton taken from a grave near Sao Paulo was that of Mengele, the office said in a statement that it now seems highly probable that Mengele died in Brazil in 1979. But it said it would not make a final ruling until it had examined written reports from the experts and compared them with evidence gathered in West Germany and Austria, a process it expects to take about two weeks.
The Frankfurt prosecutor’s office, which formally charged Mengele with the murder of 400,000 people, had led a long and fruitless hunt for him until it recently gathered evidence in West Germany indicating he was buried in Brazil.
The U.S. government called off its worldwide manhunt for Mengele on Friday after accepting the findings of American, Israeli and Brazilian experts in Sao Paolo that their analysis of the bones exhumed two weeks ago had convinced them beyond doubt that they belonged to Mengele.
In the first official Israeli reaction, a Justice Ministry official in Tel Aviv expressed skepticism about the conclusion that Mengele is dead and said Israel wants to study the evidence amassed by the scientific panel and “some new material that has recently turned up” before deciding whether to drop its search for Mengele.
Yitzhak Feinberg, press aide to Justice Minister Moshe Nissim, declined to say what the “new material” is or how it was acquired.
The Israeli-based Candles organization, which represents survivors of Mengele’s gruesome genetic experiments on dwarfs and twins at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, dismissed the panel’s findings Friday.
“We simply don’t believe any of this,” Vera Kriegel, head of Candles, said. “It’s all nonsense, an attempt to get us off his trail. He has done it before and he has done it again. We shall continue to look for him.”
The panel’s conclusion in Brazil also was disputed by Isser Harel, head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad from 1952 to 1963, who said he believes that Mengele is still alive.
“The fact that someone is trying to prove to the world that Mengele is no longer alive indicates that he is alive and that they have an interest in protecting him,” Harel said in a radio interview.
But Harel said he holds little hope Mengele will indeed be captured.
“The rewards that have been posted on his head are in fact tantamount to abandoning any attempt to catch him,” he said. “How can you capture a person who’s on his guard?”
Harel said he and his operatives “several times” were close to capturing Mengele. The kidnaping of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann by Mossad agents in Buenos Aires in 1960 uncovered proof that Mengele, then living in Buenos Aires, operated several metal-working shops under the name “Grego,” Harel said.
Harel said that after Eichmann had been taken to a “safe house,” he ordered the agents and “some reinforcements” to try to storm an apartment where Mengele lived. The operation was called off after it was determined that Mengele had left a few weeks earlier.