Hauptsturmführer Alois Brunner - the last leading Nazi still believed
to be on the loose and Eichmann's second in command - was a key
figure in the planning and execution of the Final Solution, the murder of
6 million Jews during World War II. He actively participated in the mass
murder and was often sent by Eichmann as a trouble shooter to areas such
as France to expedite the killings.
Alois Brunner bears direct responsibility for the deportation to Nazi
death camps of 128,500 Jewish men, women and children from Austria,
Greece, France, and Slovakia.
The arrest and conviction of Alois Brunner remains the top priority of
leading Nazi hunters and war investigators but Brunner has successfully
eluded justice. During his many years hiding out reportedly in an
apartment on Haddad Street in the Syrian capital of Damascus, he openly
assisted the Syrians in establishing their own secret police.
The Syrian authorities have covered and continue to cover Alois Brunner
and he may never pay for his crimes. Germany, Austria, Slovakia, France
and Poland currently seek his extradition, but the Syrians have been
totally uncooperative in response to all these requests.
Alois Brunner was born in Austria in 1912 and joined the Austrian Nazi
Party in 1931 at the age of 19. His anti-Semitism was considered to be so
extreme that he was swiftly tapped to be Adolf Eichmann’s private
secretary. As head of the Nazi’s Jewish affairs office in prewar Vienna,
he organized persecution that forced thousands of Jews to flee to other
European countries and the United States.
When World War II started, he sent 47,000 Austrian Jews to the KZ camps.
After organizing mass roundups in Berlin, he transferred to Greece, where
he was responsible for deporting all 43,000 Jews in Salonika within just
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,
Brunner sent an estimated 25,000 men, women and children to their deaths.
Brunner also transported the children of Izieu to Auschwitz.
WW2 Alois Brunner found gainful employment courtesy of the CIA and
later he escaped to Syria where he became a government adviser. To this
day Alois Brunner has successfully evaded capture. He is believed to live
in Damascus using the name of his cousin Georg Fischer. German journalists
visiting Syria in 1999 said Brunner was living at the Meridian Hotel in
Damascus under police protection. He is easily identifiable, having lost
an eye and several fingers from letter bombs sent him years ago by French
and Israeli security agents.
Brunner was interviewed about 15 years ago in the Austrian news magazine Bunte.
He said he did not suffer from a bad conscience for, in his own words,
"getting rid of that garbage." His one regret was that he hadn't
murdered more Jews.
In 1987 in a telephone interview Alois Brunner told the Chicago Sun Times:
The Jews deserved to die. I have no regrets. If I had the chance I would
do it again ..