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Israel Has Not Yet Closed Its Case on Josef Mengele

March 17, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel is still not satisfied that human bones exhumed in Brazil on June 6, 1985 are the remains of Josef Mengele, the notorious Auschwitz death camp doctor, a Justice Ministry official said Wednesday.

The ministry’s director general, Haim Klugman, said it has not yet been accepted here that the remains have been conclusively identified as Mengele’s and as long as some doubt exists, the case of the Nazi war criminal will not be closed.

Klugman spoke in response to a New York Times story Monday that Israel has closed its file on Mengele. He denied the newspaper’s report that an Israeli pathologist, Dr. Maurice Rogev, concluded during a visit to Brazil last year that the bones were, in fact, Mengele’s.

Klugman said Israel would continue its contacts with Brazil, the United States and West Germany on the matter. Those countries, along with Israel, sent teams of pathologists and forensic experts to Brazil to examine the skeleton buried at a cemetery in Embu, near Sao Paulo.

The bones were unearthed after a German couple living in Brazil, Wolfram and Liselotte Bossert, claimed they had sheltered Mengele for 10 years, during which he assumed the name of Wolfgang Gerhard. Gerhard was drowned while swimming in 1979.

The experts determined, mainly on the basis of dental records, that Gerhard was Mengele. But those records have been called into question recently. Moreover, the bones showed no evidence of treatment for osteomyelitis, an infection Mengele is known to have had in his youth.

Mengele’s family, which runs a prosperous farm machinery business in Gunzburg, the Bavarian town where Mengele was born in 1911, admitted after the exhumation that it had been in touch with Mengele in Brazil over the years and that his son, Rolf, had visited him there in 1977.

But the family has refused to have the remains brought to West Germany for reburial. Some sources said they feared his grave would become a neo-Nazi shrine or a target for thieves.

Mengele, who joined the Nazi party in 1933, the year Hitler came to power, earned the sobriquet “angel of death” for his inhuman medical experiments on Auschwitz inmates.

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