WASHINGTON (Feb. 7)
The Justice Department will conduct a full-scale investigation into the whereabouts of Auschwitz death camp doctor Josef Mengele and into reports that he was arrested and then freed in Austria by U.S. occupation forces in 1947, it was announced by Attomey General William French Smith. (See P,2 for reaction from Serge Klarsfeld.)
“The allegations have been such, and the public interest has been such, and the notoriety of the individual has been such, that it seemed to be appropriate” to conduct an investigation, Smith told reporters yesterday at a news conference at the Justice Department.
“We will use the effective technique which OSI has used in the past to trace and locate Nazi war criminals,” Smith told reporters, referring to the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which was formed to prosecute war criminals who entered the United States illegally.
Mengele, Known as the “Angel of Death” for his grotesque experiments on inmates at the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust, is considered the most notorious Nazi war criminal still at large. Mengele, now 73, was reportedly last seen in Paraguay. His current whereabouts are unknown. The government in Paraguay maintains he has left the country.
Smith’s announcement follows the release last month of previously classified U.S. Army intelligence documents that suggest Mengele may have been arrested and freed by U.S. military forces in Austria in 1947. The documents, released by the U.S. to the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, also suggested that Mengele may have sought to gain entry in the early 1960s into Canada.
WILL SEEK TO COMPILE CREDIBLE EVIDENCE
“The investigation will seek to compile credible evidence on the current whereabouts of Mengele as well as information concerning his movements in occupied Germany and his suspected flight to South America,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
“The investigation will also seek to determine the credibility of reports that Mengele has visited the United States in the past,” Smith said. “We intend to be thorough about it and also to have a speedy investigation.”( Related story from Israel, P.3.)