Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor at the Auschwitz concentration camp, may still be alive despite claims that he drowned in Brazil in 1979, a never-published Israeli police report says.
The report points to discrepancies in the medical findings that led American, German and Brazilian forensic experts to conclude jointly that the skeleton exhumed from a Brazilian cemetery was "within a reasonable scientific certainty" that of Mengele.The report was submitted to the Israeli Justice and Police Ministries in 1986 but was never published. An English version of the report was distributed this week to journalists by CANDLES, Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiment Survivors, which campaigns to continue the hunt for Mengele.
Mengele, known as "the Angel of Death," is accused of sending about 400,000 people to the gas chambers and of conducting cruel medical experiments on camp inmates.
He fled to South America in 1949 and lived in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. In 1985 it was announced that Mengele had drowned six years previously, and his friends directed police to a grave marked "Wolfgang Ger-hard" in the Embu cemetery near Sao Paolo.
The police report was written by Menachem Russak, formerly Israel's chief police investigator of war crimes. In it, he claims that enough inconsistencies exist to "suggest an assumption that the body discovered . . . is not that of Josef Mengele."
Russak was the Israeli on the multinational team of experts that went to Brazil in 1985 to verify the announcement of Mengele's death.
The U.S. Office of Special Investigations also has not published the findings, according to Ephraim Zuroff, head of the Israeli branch of the Nazi-hunting Weisenthal Center.
Zuroff says the Russak report raises questions. But he said he does not think it undermines the forensic evidence.
Russak confirmed the report's authenticity but declined to elaborate on it.
Miriam Zeiger, a survivor of Mengele's experiments and head of the Israeli branch of CANDLES, said the report was handed to her twin sister by an anonymous person at a Jerusalem conference earlier this year.
She said Israeli Justice Minister Dan Meridor met the group last month and rejected a request to publish the Russak report.
The Justice Ministry said the report was "never adopted by the government." Spokeswoman Etti Eshed said the government is still trying to discover the truth, "but in the interest of the efforts cannot give further details."
The 60-page report questioned several forensic findings from the bones at Embu cemetery.
It said the skull was too small, one leg was shorter than the other, and the remains contained no trace of Mengele's boyhood bone disease. It also challenged the dental records used to identify the skeleton.
The report pointed to testimony that suggested Mengele's family believed he was still alive after the alleged 1979 drowning. It cited a greeting Mengele's daughter-in-law wrote congratulating Mengele on his 68th birthday, even though he was supposed to have drowned one month before the birthday.
It also mentioned the testimony of Dr. Hans Munch, an Auschwitz staff doctor, that some time between 1980 and 1983 - after the alleged drowning - Mengele's stepson asked Munch what Mengele's chances were of acquittal if he stood trial.