NEW YORK (Jun. 12)
Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal yesterday urged the United States to press the government of Paraguay to locate and extradite Joseph Mengele, the notorious Nazi war criminal dubbed the “angel of death” for his crude and in humane experiements on inmates at the Auschwitz death camp during World War II.
Wiesenthal also told a news conference here that the 73-year-old Mengele, responsible for the deaths of some 400,000 Jews, was sighted in Paraguay as recently as six months ago. Mengele lived at the Astra Hotel in the Mennonite Village of Valendam, Wiesenthal said.
Joining Wiesenthal yesterday was Rep. Stephen Solarz (D. NY), whose proposed amendment seeking to link future U.S. military aid to Paraguay to that government’s cooperation in apprehending Mengele passed the House and awaits consideration in the Senate. The Paraguayan government of President Alfredo Stroessner has maintained in recent years that it has no knowledge of the whereabouts of Mengele. Nevertheless, he is believed to have been living in Paraguay since 1959 and held citizenship of that country. In 1979, under stiff international pressure, the South American country revoked Mengele’s citizenship.
PARAGUAYAN POSITION CALLED ‘UNTENABLE’
Solarz said Paraguay’s inaction to act on the Mengele issue constituted an “untenable situation.” He asserted that a special effort by the U.S. was justied in this case because Mengele’s crimes “were in a category all by themselves,” and that an American initiative was in keeping within the United States’ commitment to the ideals of justice, a concept Solarz said is degraded by Mengele’s “successful evasion of the bar of justice.”
Wiesenthal, who is based in Vienna, also provided documents, some purportedly signed by Mengele, which described experiments he ordered to be carried out on Jewish and gypsy children. The 75-year-old Wiesenthal also detailed the history of his pursuit of Mengele from his stay in Argentina to his continued presence in Paraguay.
VICTIM MAKES PLEA
A victim of Mengele’s experiments, 52-year-old Marc Berkowitz, one of a set of hundreds of twins the Nazi war criminal experimented on at Auschwitz, was present at the news conference. “Mengele was the greatest criminal of all time,” he said.
“Let the world not forget that even those few children who survived, have never been able to physically or emotionally recover from their ordeals,” Berkowitz said. “I urge that every effort be made to locate each of the survivors of these unspeakable experiments with the hope that some of the victims might be helped as a result of recent medical advances.”
Wiesenthal’s estimate is that some 180 children survived Mengele’s experiments on twins. Berkowitz’s sister also survived Auschwitz. Berkowitz said the experiments conducted on him at Auschwitz have made his vertebrae brittle and forced him to endure numerous operations. He currently lives in New York City.