(1912 - c. 2010)
Alois Brunner was a key operative of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann and was responsible for the deportation of Jewish people from Austria (47,000), Greece (44,000), France (23,500), and Slovakia (14,000) to Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.
Last seen in 2001, it remained unknown whether Brunner was still alive until his death was confirmed in December 2014 by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The news of his death was recieved from a credible former German secret service agent who confirmed rumours that Brunner had died in 2010 in Syria. According to international human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center's 2013 Annual Report on the Satus of Nazi War Criminals:
" ... the likelihood that he is already deceased increases with each passing year ... but until conclusive evidence of his demise is obtained, he should still be mentioned on any Most Wanted List of Holocaust perpetrators."
Born in Austria in 1912, Brunner joined the Austrian Nazi Party in 1931 at the age
of 19. His anti-Semitism was
considered so extreme that Adolf
Eichmanns private secretary; and Eichmann called him his "best man" in his memoirs.
As head of the Nazis' Jewish
affairs office in prewar Vienna, Brunner instituted and organized persecution that forced
thousands of Jews to flee to other European countries and the United
He sent 47,000 Austrian
Jews to concentration camps at the start of World War II, and after organizing mass roundups in Berlin, Brunner was transferred to Greece,
where he was responsible for deporting all 43,000 Jews in Thessaloniki (also known as Salonika) within a two-month period.
In June 1943, he was sent to France to take over
the Drancy transit camp
near Paris from its French administrators. During 14 months in
France alone, Brunner sent an estimated 25,000 men, women and children to
SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Brunner was also responsible for transporting the
children of Izieu, forty-four Jewish orphans from La Maison d'Izieu, to Auschwitz.
War II, Brunner was employed by Reinhard Gehlen
and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Gehlen, Hitler's top
anti-Soviet spy, surrendered to the Americans
and offered them his services. The CIA took the bait
and Gehlen re-established his spy organization and enlisted thousands of Gestapo,
Wehrmacht and SS veterans. During the Cold
War, Gehlen's network of agents received millions
of dollars in funding from the U.S. Between
1956-68, Reinhard Gehlen was Germany's Chief
of Federal Intelligence Service.
Brunner later escaped to Syria where he became a government adviser. He is believed to have lived in Damascus
under the alias of Dr. Georg Fischer, although in
December 1999 unconfirmed reports
surfaced that he had died in 1996 and was buried in
a Damascus cemetery.
visiting Syria in the 1990s reported Brunner to be living at the
Meridian Hotel in Damascus. Brunner is easily
identifiable, having lost an eye and several
fingers from letter bombs sent him years ago
by Israels intelligence services.
Brunner was sentenced to death in absentia
in France in 1953 and 1954. a
new suit was filed there based on his sending
children to Auschwitz. Previous attempts to persuade
Syria to release Brunner failed. Germany applied
for his extradition in 1987, and in 1991 the
European Parliament voted to condemn Syria for
continuing to harbor the alleged war criminal.
In 1995, German State prosecutors
in Cologne and Frankfurt posted a $333,000
reward for information leading to the arrest
of the last leading Nazi still believed to
be on the loose.
When the Austrian news magazine Bunte interviewed him decades ago, Brunner said his one regret was that he had not murdered
more Jews. In a seperate 1987 telephone interview,
he told the Chicago Sun Times: "The
Jews deserved to die. I have no regrets. If
I had the chance I would do it again ..."
In 2000, rumors circulated
that Poland was preparing to seek the extradition of Alois
Brunner. The Syrians have ignored all
attempts to extradite him, including those by
the Simon Wisenthal Center.
Reports surfaced in December 2005 that an international manhunt to find Brunner was underway. If caught, Brunner would
be extradited to France, where he was sentenced
in absentia in 2001 to life in prison for crimes
In July 2013, sketchy rumors emerged that Brunner may be alive in Syria, but the uncertain status quo about his whereabouts and whether he is even still alive remain.
Brunner's death was confirmed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in December 2014, confirming rumours that Brunner had died in Syria around 2010. The Syrian civil war made it impossible to verify Brunner's death, but he would have been 102 years old in 2014 so experts believed that he had in fact died or was near death. His death was confirmed by a reliable source, a former German secret service agent who had kept ties with Brunner. He died unrepentant for his crimes, and is buried in an unknown location in Syria.
Sources: Louis Bulos, "Alois Brunner," Children of Izieu; Yaakov Katz, "Int'l hunt on for top Nazi fugitive," Jerusalem Post, (December 28, 2005); Dr. Efraim Zuroff, "2013 Annual Report on the Status of Nazi War Criminals," Simon Wiesenthal Center [PDF] (April 2013); The Atlantic (December 1 2014)