It was 1941, and an 18-year-old Jew had been sent to the clinic with a foot inflammation. Heim asked him about himself and why he was so fit. The young man said he had been a soccer player and swimmer.
Then, instead of treating the prisoner’s foot, Heim anesthetized him, cut him open, castrated him, took apart one kidney and removed the second, Lotter said. The victim’s head was removed and the flesh boiled off so that Heim could keep it on display.
Born June 28, 1914 in Radkersburg, Austria, Heim joined the local Nazi party in 1935, three years before Austria was bloodlessly annexed by Germany.
He later joined the Waffen SS and was assigned to Mauthausen, a concentration camp near Linz, Austria, as a camp doctor in October and November 1941.
While there, witnesses told investigators, he worked closely with SS pharmacist Erich Wasicky on such gruesome experiments as injecting various solutions into Jewish prisoners’ hearts to see which killed them the fastest.
But while Wasicky was brought to trial by an American Military Tribunal in 1946 and sentenced to death, along with other camp medical personnel and commanders, Heim, who was a POW in American custody, was not among them.
Heim’s file in the Berlin Document Center, the then-U.S.-run depot for Nazi-era papers, was apparently altered to obliterate any mention of Mauthausen, according to his 1979 German indictment, obtained by the AP. Instead, for the period he was known to be at the concentration camp, he was listed as having a different SS assignment.
This “cannot be correct,” the indictment says. “It is possible that through data manipulation the short assignment at the same time to the (concentration camp) was concealed.”
There is no indication who might have been responsible.
The U.S. Army Intelligence file on Heim could shed light on his wartime and postwar activities, and is among hundreds of thousands transferred to the U.S. National Archives. But the Army’s electronic format is such that staff have so far only been able to access about half of them, and these don’t include the file requested by the AP.
Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigations, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.
“I don’t believe there is anything appropriate for Mr. Rosenbaum to add,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney in an e-mail.
Austrian authorities sent the 1950 arrest warrant to American authorities in Germany who initially agreed to turn him over, then told the Austrians, in a Dec. 21, 1950, letter obtained by the AP, that they couldn’t trace him.
What happened next is unclear, but in 1958 Heim apparently felt comfortable enough to buy a 42-unit apartment block in Berlin, listing it in his own name with a home address in Mannheim, according to purchase documents obtained by the AP. He then moved to the nearby resort town of Baden-Baden and opened a gynecological clinic — also under his own name, Heister said.
In 1961, German authorities were alerted and began an investigation, but when they finally went to arrest him in September 1962, they just missed him — he apparently had been tipped off.
Heim continued to live off the rents collected from the Berlin apartments until 1979 when the building was confiscated by German authorities.
Proof that he is alive may lie in the fact that no one has claimed his estate. Heim has two sons in Germany and a daughter who lived in Chile but whose current whereabouts are unknown.
Ruediger Heim, one of the sons, would not comment when telephoned at his Baden-Baden villa.
“All I can say is that it has been implied that I am in contact with my father, and that is absolutely false,” he said. “The rest is speculation, and I can’t enter into that.”
Update July 08- Is he with his daughter in Patagonia?
Israel’s chief Nazi hunter has arrived in Chile to step up the hunt for the most wanted Nazi fugitive Aribert Heim.
“The reason we are going [to Patagonia]… is of course the fact that Heim’s daughter lives in Puerto Montt, and we think there is a strong likelihood that he might be in that area or in the area between Puerto Montt and Bariloche [Argentina].”
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, along with the German and Austrian governments, has offered $495,000 (315,000 euros; £250,000) for information leading to Heim’s arrest.
Although he would now be 94, they believe Heim is still alive because his family has yet to claim around $1.6m sitting in a German bank account in his name, says the BBC’s Gideon Long in Santiago.