The Nuremberg Trials

After the Second World War ended, many top surviving German leaders were tried for Nazi Germany’s actions relating to the Holocaust. Their trial was held before an International Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg, Germany. The crimes charged before the Nuremberg courts consisted of the following four counts:

1.       crimes against peace (the planning, initiating and waging of wars of aggression in violation of international treaties and agreements)

2.      war crimes (violations of the laws of war)

3.      crimes against humanity (exterminations,deportations and genocide)

4.      conspiracy to commit any of the criminal acts listed in the first three counts

In all, 199 defendants were tried at Nuremberg, 161 were convicted and 37 were sentenced to death.

After the judgments at Nuremberg, trials of Nazis continued to take place both in Germany and many other countries in the years following the war right up until today. Throughout his career, Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal provided leads for war crimes investigators around the world.

The list below comprises only some of the over 1,000 Nazi war criminals in Simon Wiesenthal's files.

Nazi War Criminals

EICHMANN, Adolf

(19 March 1906 – 1 June 1962)

 Adolf Eichmann was a German Nazi SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. He was tasked by SS-Obergruppenführer (general/lieutenant general) Reinhard Heydrich with facilitating and managing the logistics involved in the mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe during World War II. In 1960, he was captured in Argentina by the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service. He was found guilty of war crimes in a widely publicized trial in Israel, and was hanged in 1962.

 After an unremarkable school career, Eichmann briefly worked for his father's mining company in Austria, where the family had moved in 1914. He worked as a travelling oil salesman beginning in 1927, and joined both the Nazi Party and the SS in 1932. He returned to Germany in 1933, where he joined the Sicherheitsdienst (SD; Security Service);there he was appointed head of the department responsible for Jewish affairs—especially emigration, which the Nazis encouraged through violence and economic pressure. After the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, Eichmann and his staff arranged for Jews to be concentrated in ghettos in major cities with the expectation that they would be transported either farther east or overseas. He also drew up plans for a Jewish reservation, first at Nisko in southeast Poland and later in Madagascar, but neither of these plans was ever carried out.

 The Nazis began the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, and their Jewish policy changed from emigration to extermination. To coordinate planning for the genocide, Heydrich hosted the regime's administrative leaders at the Wannsee Conference on 20 January 1942. Eichmann collected information for him, attended the conference, and prepared the minutes. Eichmann and his staff became responsible for Jewish deportations to extermination camps, where the victims were gassed. Germany invaded Hungary in March 1944, and Eichmann oversaw the deportation of much of the Jewish population. Most of the victims were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp, where 75 to 90 per cent were murdered upon arrival. By the time that the transports were stopped in July 1944, 437,000 of Hungary's 725,000 Jews had been killed.

 After Germany's defeat in 1945, Eichmann fled to Austria. He was captured by the Americans and spent time in several camps for SS officers using forged papers that identified him as "Otto Eckmann". He escaped from a work detail at Cham, Germany when he realized that his actual identity had been discovered. He obtained new identity papers with the name of "Otto Heninger" and relocated frequently over the next several months, moving ultimately to the Lüneburg Heath. He initially got work in the forestry industry and later leased a small plot of land in Altensalzkoth, where he lived until 1950. Meanwhile, former commandant of Auschwitz Rudolf Höss and others gave damning evidence about Eichmann at the Nuremberg trials of major war criminals starting in 1946.

 In 1948, Eichmann obtained a landing permit for Argentina and false identification under the name of "Ricardo Klement" through an organisation directed by Bishop Alois Hudal, an Austrian cleric then residing in Italy with known Nazi sympathies. These documents enabled him to obtain an International Committee of the Red Cross humanitarian passport and the remaining entry permits in 1950 that would allow emigration to Argentina. He travelled across Europe, staying in a series of monasteries that had been set up as safe houses.  He departed from Genoa by ship on 17 June 1950 and arrived in Buenos Aires on 14 July.

 Simon Wiesenthal, living in Linz at the time, remained as the family of Adolf Eichmann lived a few blocks away from him.  He closely monitored the family with the hopes of collecting information on his whereabouts.  When Eichmann's father died in 1960, Wiesenthal made arrangements for private detectives to surreptitiously photograph members of the family, as Eichmann's brother Otto was said to bear a strong family resemblance and there were no current photos of the fugitive. He provided these photographs to Mossad agents, Israel's intelligence agency, on18 February – one agent ended up being a part of the capture team. Additional informationcollected by the Mossad confirmed Eichmann’s location in 1960. A team of Mossad and Shin Bet agents captured Eichmann and brought him to Israel to stand trial on 15 criminal charges, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the Jewish people. During the trial, he did not deny the truth of the Holocaust or his role in organising it, but claimed that he was simply following orders in a totalitarian system.

The verdict was read on 12 December. The judges declared him not guilty of personally killing anyone and not guilty of overseeing and controlling the activities of the Einsatzgruppen. He was deemed responsible for the dreadful conditions on board the deportation trains and for obtaining Jews to fill those trains. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes against Poles, Slovenes and Gypsies. He was also found guilty of membership in three organisations that had been deemed criminal at the Nuremberg trials: the Gestapo, the SD, and the SS. When considering the sentence, the judges concluded that Eichmann had not merely been following orders, but believed in the Nazi cause wholeheartedly and had been a key perpetrator of the genocide. On 15 December 1961, Eichmann was sentenced to death by hanging.

 The verdict was appealed, mostly relying on legal arguments about Israel's jurisdiction and the legality of the laws under which Eichmann was charged. Appeal hearings took place between 22 and 29 March 1962. On 29 May, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the appeal and upheld the District Court's judgement on all counts. Eichmann immediately petitioned Israeli President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi for clemency. The content of his letter to the President pleading for pardon and other original court documents of the trial were made public on 27 January 2016. Prominent people such as Hugo Bergmann, Pearl Buck, Martin Buber, and Ernst Simon spoke up on his behalf. Ben-Gurion called a special cabinet meeting to resolve the issue. The cabinet decided not to recommend to President Ben-Zvi that Eichmann be granted clemency,and Ben-Zvi rejected the appeal to commute his sentence. At 8:00 p.m. on 31 May, Eichmann was informed that his final appeal had been declined. His last meal was the usual prison fare of cheese, bread, olives, and tea, along with half a bottle of wine.

The hanging, scheduled for midnight at the end of 31 May, was slightly delayed and thus took place a few minutes into 1 June 1962.

SILBERBAUER, Karl

(21 June 1911 – 2 September 1972)

Karl Silberbauer was an Austrian police officer, SS-Oberscharführer (staff sergeant), and undercover investigator for the West German Federal Intelligence Service. Silberbauer is best known, however, for his activities in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam during World War II. During his time in Amsterdam, he was promoted to the rank of Hauptscharführer (master sergeant).  In 1963, Silberbauer, by then an Inspector in the Vienna police, was exposed as the commander of the 1944 Gestapo raid on the Secret Annex and the arrests of Anne Frank,her fellow fugitives, and their Gentile protectors.

 Born in Vienna,Silberbauer served in the Austrian military before following his father into the police force in 1935. Four years later, he joined the Gestapo, movedto the Netherlands, and in 1943 transferred to the Sicherheitsdienst in The Hague.He was then assigned to Amsterdam and attached to "Sektion IV B 4", a unit recruited from Austrian and German police departments and which handled arrests of hidden Jews throughout the occupied Netherlands.

 On 4 August 1944, Silberbauer was ordered by his superior, SS-Obersturmführer (lieutenant) Julius Dettmann, to investigate a tip-off that Jews were being hidden in the upstairs rooms at Prinsengracht 263. He took a few Dutch policemen with him and interrogated Victor Kugler about the entrance to the hiding place. Miep Gies and Johannes Kleiman were also questioned, and while Kugler and Kleimann were arrested, Gies was allowed to stay on the premises. Both Otto Frank and Karl Silberbauer were interviewed after the war about the circumstances of the raid, with both describing Silberbauer's surprise that those in hiding had been there more than two years. Frank recalled Silberbauer confiscating their valuables and money,taking these spoils away in Otto Frank's briefcase, which he had emptied onto the floor scattering out the papers and notebooks which made up the diar yof Anne Frank.

Soon after, Gentile protectors Kugler and Johannes Kleiman, together with Otto Frank, Edith Frank-Holländer, Margot Frank, Anne Frank, Hermann van Pels, Auguste van Pels, Peter van Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer, were arrested and taken to Gestapoheadquarters in Amsterdam. From there, the eight who had been in hiding were sent to the Westerbork transit camp and then to Auschwitz concentration camp. Soon after, Margot Frank and Anne Frank were sent to Bergen-Belsen, where they would die of typhus, three weeks before the camp was liberated by British forces. Victor Kugler and Jo Kleiman were sent to work camps. Of the ten, only Otto Frank, Kugler, and Kleiman survived.

Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal began searching for Silberbauer in 1958, upon being challenged by Austrian Holocaust deniers to prove that Anne Frank actually existed. One Holocaust denier stated that, if Anne Frank's arresting officer were found and admitted it, he would change his mind.  

During the 1948, Dutch police investigation into the raid on the Secret Annex, Silberbauer's name had been disclosed as"Silvernagel". The Dutch police detectives who had assisted with the raid were identified by Miep Gies,who recalled their commander as having a working-class Vienna accent. The Dutch policemen claimed to remember nothing except an erroneous form of their superior's surname.

Wiesenthal considered contacting Anne's father, Otto Frank, but learned that he was speaking out in favor of forgiveness and reconciliation. Otto Frank also believed that the person responsible for the denunciation to the Gestapo, not the arresting officers, bore the greatest responsibility. Wiesenthal, however, was determined to discredit the growing Holocaust denial movement and continued his search for"Silvernagel". In late spring 1963, after ruling out numerous Austrians with similar names, Wiesenthal was loaned a wartime Gestapo telephone book by Dutch investigators. During a two-hour flight from Amsterdam to Vienna,Wiesenthal found the name "Silberbauer" listed as attached to"Sektion IV B 4" and could not wait for his plane to land.  

Upon his arrival in Vienna, Wiesenthal immediately telephoned Dr. Josef Wiesinger, who investigated Nazi crimes for the Austrian Ministry of the Interior. Upon being told that Silberbauer might still be a policeman, Wiesinger insisted that there were "at least six men on the Vienna police force" with the same surname and demanded a written request. On 2 June 1963, Wiesenthal submitted a detailed request but was told for months that the Vienna police were not yet ready to release their findings.

Silberbauer's memories of the arrest were notably vivid – he in particular recalled Otto and Anne Frank. When he asked Otto Frank how long they had been in hiding, Frank answered, "Two years and one month." Silberbauer was incredulous, until Otto stood Anne against the marks made on the wall to measure her height since they had arrived in the annex, showing that she had grown even since the last mark had been made. Silberbauer said that Anne "looked like the pictures in the books, but a little older, and prettier. 'You have a lovely daughter', I said to Mr.Frank".

Although he disclosed what he knew, Silberbauer was unable to provide any information that could help further the Dutch police's investigation into the Dutch collaborator who provided the tip. He explained that the call was taken by his commanding officer, SS Lieutenant Julius Dettmann, who said only that the information came from "a reliable source". As Dettmann had committed suicide in a POW camp (Huis van Bewaring, Havenstraat 6, Amsterdam, the Netherlands) after the end of the war, the second investigation also hit a dead end.

Although the Austrian government stated that the arrest of Anne Frank "did not warrant Silberbauer's arrest or prosecution as a war criminal", the Vienna Police convened a disciplinary hearing. Among the witnesses was Otto Frank, who testified that Silberbauer had"only done his duty and behaved correctly" during the arrest. Otto Frank added, however, "The only thing I ask is not to have to see the man again."

As a result, the police review board exonerated Silberbauer of any official guilt. His unpaid suspension was lifted and the Vienna police assigned him to a desk job in the "Identification Office", or Erkennungsamt.

BOERE, Heinrich

(27 September 1921 – 1 December 2013)

Heinrich Boere was a convicted German-Dutch war criminal and former member of the Waffen-SS. He was on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted Nazi war criminals.

Boere was born in Eschweiler, Germany, to a Dutch father and a German mother, but his parents moved to Maastricht when he was two yearsold. He volunteered for the Waffen-SS in September 1940,only months after the German occupation of the Netherlands. In June 1941, at the age of 19, he left to fight on the Eastern Front including,in 1942, service in the Caucasus.  In December 1942, he contracted pyelonephritis and was sent back to Maastricht.

In 1943, Boere became a member of a 15-man Waffen-SS squad of Dutch volunteers, the Sonderkommando Feldmeijer, tasked with killing members of the Dutch resistance and anti-German citizens in retaliation for acts of resistance against the Nazi occupation of their country. Following attacks on German occupation forces and Dutch collaborators,the SS and Police Leader for the Netherlands, Hanns Albin Rauter, ordered the Sonderkommando to retaliate by assassinating civilians presumed to be in some way connected to the resistance. This operation,code named Silbertanne (Silver Fir), was responsible for probably 54 known killings, three of which Boere admitted to committing.

Boere’s first killing was committed in July 1944 when he and fellow SS member Jacobus Petrus Besteman received orders from the local Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service)office in Breda to murder a pharmacist named Fritz Hubert Ernst Bicknese, father of twelve. Wearing civilian clothes, Boere and Besteman walked into Bicknese’s pharmacy and asked him his identity. Upon a positive reply, Boere fired three shots into Bicknese’s upper body, then Besteman fired several more shots as Bicknese lay on the floor.

In September 1944, on a Sunday, Boere and Hendrik Kromhout arrived in Voorschoten at the home of Teun de Groot, a bicycle-shop owner and father of five children, who hid fugitives in his shop and was an acquaintance of anti-Nazi activists. As De Groot, still in his pyjamas, fumbled with his wallet to show his ID papers, Boere and Kromhout shot him. They then went to the apartment of Frans Willem Kusters, forced him into their car,and drove out of town. The pair then falsely claimed that they had a flat tire,stopped the vehicle and shot Kusters.

In the immediate post-war years, Boere spent two years in an Allied prisoner-of-war (POW)camp, where he was interrogated and admitted to the three killings.After release from the POW camp, Boere initially went into hiding out of fear of being sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence, but managed to flee to Germany. In 1949, a Dutch court sentenced Boere to death in absentia for the three murders, for supporting the enemy, and for serving in the army of the enemy. According to Dutch law, the last automatically leads to the loss of Dutch citizenship. Boere claimed German citizenship on the basis of a so-called Führererlass, a law promulgated by Hitler providing all SS-members with German citizenship. This law remained in force during the 1950s and 1960s in Germany, but was later annulled under pressure from the European Union. From that point on, Boere was stateless, which was confirmed during the trial against him that started in October 2009. The German government refused to extradite him. West Germany was responsible for prosecuting war criminals, but Boere was never brought to trial there.

The Dutch government repeatedly sought Boere’s extradition.In 1983, a German court refused the Dutch request to hand Boere over to the Dutch authorities on the grounds that Boere might have German citizenship, and Germany, at that time, did not permit extraditing its own nationals.

In 2007, a court in Aachen ruled that Boere could serve his sentence in Germany, but an appeals court in Cologne overturned the ruling,saying that the 1949 conviction was invalid because Boere was unable to present a defense. Boere’s case attracted a great deal of public attention and, in 2007, the opposition in the Dutch parliament brought the case up with the Dutch Ministry of Justice. Boere was listed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center as a Nazi war criminal-at-large. Besteman, Boere’s partner in the Bicknese slaying, served time in prison in the Netherlands for his war crimes.

On 14 April 2008 the state prosecution in Dortmund announced it was preparing to file charges against Boere. On 8 January 2009, the State Court of Aachen ruled that Boere was medically unfit and did not have to stand trial in the case.

The Provincial Court of Appeal in Cologne ruled on 7 July 2009,that Boere was fit for trial, overturning the lower courts ruling. Following a judicial review by the German Constitutional Court, the court decided not to accept Boere's appeal and ruled further that Boere was indeed fit to stand trial. However, according to the court he would be under medical supervision, being provided with a doctor for the length of the trial. The trial started on 28 October 2009, at Aachen's regional court.

In 2009, Boere lived in an old-age home in his birth town of Eschweiler, Germany.  He was not taken into custody for the trial against him. In an interview with Der Spiegel, he said, "I'm not interested in what happened back then." In a documentary by Dutch journalists Rob van Olm and Jan Louter, who were the first to bring Boere to the attention of the public, Boere did admit tosome feeling of remorse and stated he has confessed his crimes to a priest, and prayed for his victims. On 23 March 2010 in Aachen, Germany, he was sentenced to life in prison. His defense, that he would have been shot had he disobeyed orders (sometimes known as the 'Nuremberg Defense'), was rejected. Following the ruling of the court, his solicitors announced that they would appeal the judgment.

After his appeal was rejected, Boere began serving his life sentence on 16 December 2011 at the age of 90.  Boere died on 1 December 2013 while in prison custody at Fröndenberg.

BRAUNSTEINER, Hermine

(16 July 1919 – 19 April 1999)

Hermine Braunsteiner was a female camp guard at Ravensbrück and Majdanek concentration camps, and the first Nazi war criminal to be extradited from the United States, to face trial in Germany. Braunsteiner was known to prisoners of Majdanek concentration camp as"Stomping Mare" and was said to have whipped women to death, thrown children by their hair onto trucks before being taken to their deaths in gas chambers, hanging girl prisoners and stomping an old woman to death with her jackboots. She was sentenced to life imprisonment by the District Court of Düsseldorf on April 30, 1981 but released on health grounds in 1996 before her death 3 years later.

 Braunsteiner was born in Vienna, the youngest child in a strictly observant Roman Catholic working class family. Her father, Friedrich Braunsteiner, was a chauffeur for a brewery and/or a butcher. Hermine lacked the means to fulfill her aspiration to become a nurse, and worked as a maid. From 1937 to 1938 she worked in England for an American engineer's household.

 In 1938, Braunsteiner became a German citize nafter the Anschluss. She returned to Vienna from England and the same year relocated to Germany for a job at the Heinkel aircraft works in Berlin. At the urging of her landlord, a German policeman, Braunsteiner applied for a better paying job supervising prisoners, quadrupling her income in time. She began her training on August 15, 1939, as an Aufseherin under Maria Mandel at Ravensbrück concentration camp. She remained there after the start of World War II, and the influx of new prisoners from occupied countries.

 On October 16, 1942, Braunsteiner took up her duties in the forced-labor apparel factory near the Majdanek concentration camp,established near Lublin, Poland a year earlier. It was both a labour camp (Arbeitslager) and an extermination camp with gas chambers and crematoria. She was promoted to assistant wardress in January 1943, under Oberaufseherin Elsa Ehrich along with five other camp guards. By then most of the Aufseherinnen had been moved into Majdanek from the Alter Flughafen labor camp.

 Her abuses took many forms in the camp. She involved herself in "selections" of women and children to be sent to the gas chambers and whipped several women to death.  Braunsteiner was infamous for her wild rages and tantrums. According to one witness at her later trial in Düsseldorf, she "seized children by their hair and threw them on trucks heading to the gas chambers”. Other survivors testified how she killed women by stomping on them with her steel-studded jackboots, earning herthe nickname "The Stomping Mare."

 In January 1944, Hermine was ordered back to Ravensbrück as Majdanek began evacuations due to the approaching front line. She was promoted to supervising wardress at the Genthin subcamp of Ravensbrück, located outside Berlin. Witnesses say that she abused many of the prisoners with a horsewhip she carried, killing at least two women with it. A French physician, who was interned at Genthin recalled the sadism of Hermine while she ruled the camp: "I watched her administer twenty-five lashes with a riding crop to a young Russian girl suspected of having tried sabotage. Her back was full of lashes, but I was not allowed to treat her immediately.”

On May 7, 1945, Hermine Braunsteiner fled the camp ahead of the Soviet Red Army. She then returned to Vienna, but soon left.  The Austrian police arrested her and turned her over to the British military occupation authorities; she remained incarcerated from May 6, 1946, until April 18, 1947. A court in Graz, Austria,convicted her of torture, maltreatment of prisoners and crimes against humanity and against human dignity at Ravensbrück, then sentenced her to serve three years, beginning April 7, 1948; she was released early in April 1950. An Austrian civil court subsequently granted her amnesty from further prosecution there.  She worked at low-level jobs in hotels and restaurants until emigrating.

Russell Ryan, an American, met her on his vacation in Austria. They married in October 1958, after they had emigrated to Nova Scotia, Canada. She entered the United States in April 1959, becoming a United States citizen on January 19, 1963. They lived in Queens, New York where she was known as a fastidious housewife with a friendly manner, married to a construction worker.

 Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal picked up on her trail by chance on a visit to Tel Aviv. He was at a restaurant there when he received a call from his friend that he could not make it to their luncheon. The maitre d' announced the "phone call for Mr.Wiesenthal" and this led to his recognition by the other patrons—who stood up to applaud him. When he returned to his table there were several Majdanek survivors waiting and they told him about her and what she had done. On this he followed her trail to Vienna to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then, via Toronto, to Queens. In 1964 Wiesenthal alerted the New York Times that Braunsteiner might have married a man named Ryan and might live in the Maspeth area of the Borough of Queens in New York. They assigned Joseph Lelyveld, then a young reporter, to find "Mrs.Ryan." He found her at the second doorbell he rang and later wrote that she greeted him at her front doorstep and said: "My God, I knew this would happen. You've come."

 Braunsteiner stated that she had been at Majdanek only a year, eight months of that time in the camp infirmary. "My wife, sir,wouldn't hurt a fly," said Ryan. "There's no more decent person on this earth. She told me this was a duty she had to perform. It was a conscriptive service." On August 22, 1968, United States authorities sought to revoke her citizenship, because she had failed to disclose her convictions for war crimes; she was de-naturalized in 1971. A prosecutor in Düsseldorf began investigating her wartime behavior, and in 1973 the German government requested her extradition, accusing her of joint responsibility in the death of 200,000 people.

 She stood trial in West Germany with 15 other former SS men and women from Majdanek.

The court found insufficient evidence on six counts of the indictment and convicted her on three: murder of 80 people, abetting the murder of 102 children, and collaborating in the murder of 1000. On June 30, 1981, the court imposed a life sentence, a more severe punishment than those meted out to her co-defendants.

 Complications of diabetes,including a leg amputation, led to her release from Mülheimer women's prison in 1996. Hermine Braunsteiner died on April 19, 1999, aged 79, in Bochum, Germany.

BRUNNER, Alois

(8 April 1912 – 2001 or 2010)

 Alois Brunner was an Austrian Schutzstaffel (SS) officer who worked as Adolf Eichmann's assistant. Brunner is held responsible for sending over 100,000 European Jews to ghettos and internment camps in eastern Europe. He was commander of the Drancy internment camp outside Paris from June 1943 to August 1944, from which nearly 24,000 people were deported.

 After some narrow escapes from the Allies in the immediate aftermath of World War II, Brunner fled West Germany in 1954, first for Egypt, then Syria, where he remained until his death. He was the object of many manhunts and investigations over the years by different groups, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Klarsfelds and others. He was condemned to death in absentia in France in 1954 for crimes against humanity. He lost an eye and then the fingers of his left hand as a result of letter bombs sent to him in 1961 and 1980, possibly by the Israeli Mossad. The government of Syria under Hafez el-Assad came close to extraditing him to East Germany, before this plan was halted by the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Brunner survived all the attempts to detain him, unrepentant about his activities to the end. During his long residence in Syria, Brunner was reportedly granted asylum, a generous salary and protection by the ruling Ba'ath Party in exchange for his advice on effective torture and interrogation techniques used by the Germans in World War II.

 Born in Nádkút, Vas, Austria-Hungary (now Rohrbrunn, Burgenland, Austria), he was the son of Joseph Brunner and Ann Kruise. He joined the Nazi Party in 1931 and the Sturmabteilung (SA) in 1932. After joining the SS in 1938, he was assigned to the staff of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Austria and became its director in 1939. He worked closely with Eichmann on the Nisko Plan, a failed attempt to set up a Jewish reservation in Nisko, Poland, later that year.

Brunner held the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (captain)when he organized deportations to Nazi concentration camps from Vichy, France and Slovakia. He was commander of a train of Jews deported from Vienna to Riga in February 1942. En route, Brunner shot and killed Jewish financier Siegmund Bosel, who, although ill, had been hauled out of a Vienna hospital and placed on the train. According to historian Gertrude Schneider, who as a young girl was deported to Riga on the same train, but survived the Holocaust:  Alois Brunner chained Bosel, still in his pajamas, to the platform of the first car—our car—and berated him for having been a profiteer. The old man repeatedly asked for mercy; he was very ill, and it was bitterly cold. Finally Brunner wearied of the game and shot him. Afterward, he walked into the car and asked whether anyone had heard anything. After being assured that no one had, he seemed satisfied and left.

 Before being named commander of Drancy internment camp near Paris in June 1943, Brunner deported 43,000 Jews from Vienna and 46,000 from Salonika. He was personally sent by Eichmann in 1944 to Slovakia to oversee the deportation of Jews. In the last days of the Third Reich he managed to deport another 13,500 from Slovakia to Theresienstadt, Sachsenhausen, Bergen-Belsen,and Stutthof of whom a few survived; the remainder, including all the children, were sent to Auschwitz,where none are known to have survived.

In an interview with the German magazine Bunte, in 1985, Brunner described how he escaped capture by the Allies immediately after World War II. The identity of Brunner was apparently mixed up with that of another SS member with the same surname, Anton Brunner, who was executed for war crimes. Alois,like Josef Mengele, did not have the SS blood type tattoo, which prevented his identity from detection in an Allied prison camp. Anton Brunner,who had worked in Vienna deporting Jews, was confused after the war with Alois due to the shared surname.  

 Claiming he had "received official documents under a false name from American authorities", Brunner claimed he had found work as a driver for the United States Army in the period after the war. Brunner fled West Germany in 1954 on a fake Red Cross passport, first to Rome, then Egypt, where he worked as a weapons dealer, and then to Syria, where he took the pseudonym of Dr. Georg Fischer. In Syria, he was hired as a government adviser. The exact nature of his work is unknown. Syria had long refused entry to French investigators as well as to Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld who spent nearly 15 years bringing the case to court in France.  The government of Syria under Hafez el-Assad was close to extraditing Brunner to East Germany, but the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 severed contacts between the two regimes and halted the extradition plan.

 In the Bunte interview, Brunner was quoted as saying he regrets nothing and that all of the Jews deserved their fate. According to a widely quoted 1987 telephone interview with the Chicago Sun Times, he was reported to have said: "All of [the Jews] deserved to die because they were the Devil's agents and human garbage. I have no regrets and would do it again."

 Brunner was twice sentenced to death in absentia in the 1950s; one of those convictions was in France in 1954. In August 1987 an Interpol "red notice" was issued for him. In 1995, German state prosecutors in Cologne and Frankfurt posted a $330,000 reward, for information leading to his arrest.  On 2 March 2001, he was found guilty in absentia by a French court for crimes against humanity, including the arrest and deportation of 345 orphans from the Paris region (which had not been judged in the earlier trials) and was sentenced to life imprisonment. According to Serge Klarsfeld, the trial was largely symbolic—an effort to honour the memories of victims. Klarsfeld's own father,arrested in 1943, was reportedly one of Brunner's victims.

The exact date of death and place of death are unknown, with recent information pointing to 2001 as the year of his death.  However, in 2003,British newspaper The Guardian described him as"the world's highest-ranking Nazi fugitive believed still alive." Brunner was last reported to be living in 2001 in Syria, whose government had long rebuffed international efforts to locate or apprehend him.

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