PARIS (Jul. 18)
A French judge issued an international arrest warrant Thursday for Alois Brunner, one of the most elusive and sadistic Nazi war criminals known to be still alive.
The warrant, signed by Judge Jean-Pierre Getti, was delivered to the Syrian authorities in Damascus. Brunner is believed to have been living in Syria since 1954, employed as a consultant to the police.
An interview with Brunner in Syria, using the assumed name Georg Fischer, was published in a German magazine years ago with a photograph.
“We have reason to believe he is the same man,” Getti said in his request to Syria for help in tracking Brunner down.
The former SS officer, now 79, was Adolf Eichmann’s deputy. Eichmann, who directly implemented the Final Solution, was tried in Israel and hanged in 1961.
Brunner was tried in absentia in France and condemned to death for war crimes.
He is believed to have arrested and deported all of the Jews of Salonika, Greece, during World War II. Later in the war, he was put in charge of arresting Jews on the French Riviera.
Later he commanded the detention camp at Drancy, a suburb of Paris, where Jews were put in boxcars to be deported to Auschwitz and other death camps.
Even when the defeat of the Third Reich was imminent, Brunner continued to round up Jewish children and deport them to their death.
Brunner managed to evade arrest after the war, living in Essen, then West Germany, under an assumed name. Unlike Eichmann and other Nazi criminals who fled to South America, he chose the Arab world as a haven.
After living in Cairo, he moved to Damascus, where he was welcomed by the government.
A French warrant delivered in 1988 was returned with the notation that there was “no Alois Brunner” in Syria.
Getti’s warrant asked for Brunner “a.k.a. Georg Fischer.” According to sources here, it may get better results because relations between Syria and the West improved after Damascus joined the U.S.-led coalition in the war against Iraq.