BERLIN – German authorities have received original documents indicating the world's most-wanted Nazi fugitive died in Cairo in 1992, and are investigating their validity, an official said Friday.
The papers — personal musings, official documents and other items that allegedly belonged to SS doctor Aribert Heim — were turned over to the Baden Wuerttemberg state police office that has led the manhunt for the former Nazi for decades, spokesman Horst Haug said.
He told The Associated Press that the documents were turned over by "an attorney" but would not elaborate further. They were discovered by German television station ZDF and the New York Times in a Cairo hotel where Heim allegedly lived out the final years of his life before dying of intestinal cancer, but it was not clear if the media outlets had them in their possession.
The authenticity of the documents is now being checked by experts who are examining details like the age of the paper, the handwriting and fingerprints, Haug said.
He had no estimate on how long it could take to determine if they were genuine.
"There are a lot of documents, and I don't know how many people have had them in their hands — there could be a lot of fingerprints," he told the AP.
Heim, who would be 94 if alive today, was a doctor at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria in October and November 1941. Witnesses have said he was involved in gruesome experiments, such as injecting various solutions into Jewish prisoners' hearts to see which killed them the fastest.
ZDF reported the papers that surfaced in Cairo included a passport, application for a residency permit, bank slips, personal letters and medical papers — in all more than 100 documents — that were left behind by Heim in a briefcase in the hotel room where he lived under the name Tarek Hussein Farid.
The television station quoted Heim's son, Ruediger Heim, as confirming the pseudonym Tarek Hussein Farid as his father's assumed name and the documents as belonging to him. Heim said he visited his father regularly in Cairo and had taken care of him after an operation related to his cancer in 1990.
ZDF reported that Heim was buried in a cemetery for the poor in Cairo, where graves are reused after several years "so that the chance of finding remains is unlikely."
Haug's office has asked Egyptian authorities for permission to travel to Cairo to look for the corpse, but he said Friday that they had not yet received a reply.
Meanwhile, Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, this week asked Egyptian authorities for details on a list of 29 Nazis his office believes found refuge in Egypt.
All on the list — compiled by Wiesenthal himself in 1967 — are believed dead but he said he was hoping that Egyptian authorities would turn over what information they have.
They could "confirm things that we weren't 100 percent certain of, and (the list) also sheds light on Egypt's role as a haven for Nazi war criminals — that's very important," he said.