Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center welcomed the announcement made public today by the Austrian Justice Ministry on its official website, that it was offering the sum of 50,000 euros for information which would lead to the capture of the number one and number two “Most Wanted” escaped Nazi war criminals Alois Brunner and Dr. Aribert Heim. Brunner, who was last seen alive in 2001 in Syria, where he has enjoyed the full protection of the Syrian government for decades, was responsible for the deportation to death camps of 128,500 Jews from Austria [47,000], Greece [44,000], France [23,500], and Slovakia [14,000]. Heim, whose current whereabouts are unknown but is presumed to be living in Spain or South America, murdered hundreds of inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp by injecting phenol into their hearts.
In early 2006, the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, met in Vienna with the Austrian ministers of justice and the interior to ask the Austrian government to match the prize of 130,000 euros being offered by the German government for information leading to the capture of Heim which the Wiesenthal Center had matched. Thus the Austrian prize brings the reward being offered for information which will facilitate the arrest of Heim to a total of 310,000 euros.
Zuroff noted that in the past financial rewards offered for assistance in the capture of Nazi war criminals had proven critical, as in the case of notorious camp commander Josef Schwammberger whose arrest in Argentina was facilitated by a similar reward offered by the German government.
According to Zuroff:
“We congratulate the Austrian authorities for joining in the important efforts to bring these leading Nazi war criminals to justice and hope that the added prize money will help make the difference in their apprehension. The passage of time in no way diminishes the crimes committed by Brunner and Heim and therefore their prosecution remains just as important, if not even more important, today than it would have been years ago.”