BUENOS AIRES (Feb. 25)
Nazi war criminal Martin Bormann died in Paraguay in 1959, according to files of the Paraguayan police that were recently discovered and made public.
The finding, if accurate, challenges a widespread belief that Bormann, who was one of Adolf Hitler’s top aides, committed suicide in Berlin in 1945.
A report in the police files said Bormann succumbed to stomach cancer in Hohenau, an insular German-speaking colony 220 miles south of Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital.
The report, dated Aug. 24, 1961, was prepared by security personnel from what was then the dreaded Division of Technical Affairs of the Paraguayan Interior Ministry during the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner.
One source in the world Jewish community who asked not to be identified said that the information does not “pan out with what we do know,” that Borman died in Berlin at the end of the war.
But in New York, Mark Weitzman, associate director of educational outreach for Simon Wiesenthal Center, said it was “not uncommon for Nazis to stage their own deaths.”
“And if they could find someone who resembled Bormann, that would take some of the heat off them if they were still alive.”
In Asuncion, Judge Luis Benitez Riera verified the document’s authenticity and reminded journalists that those files are now open to the public.
Paraguay was a well-known haven for Nazis after World War II and particularly under the 35-year reign of Stroessner.
Edward Roschmann, known as the “butcher of Riga,” died in Asuncion in 1977. And Josef Mengele, dubbed the “angel of death” at Auschwitz, is believed to have lived in Paraguay before he went to Brazil, where he died in 1979 of a stroke while swimming.
The police report released in Asuncion says that Mengele, who was a medical doctor, traveled to Paraguay at the end of 1958 to try to cure Bormann of his cancer.
According to the report, Bormann lies buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery in Ita, some 17 miles from the capital.
It says that “Bormann died after a long agony from stomach cancer.”
“He was buried in the shadows of the night in Ita’s cemetery, where he was taken after not even Mengele’s medical care could cure his illness,” the report says.