The Nazi criminal died in Syria in Assad's jail

(To David Bartoccini)

Alois Brunner, one of the most sought after Nazi criminals who escaped the Nuremberg trial, died 16 years ago in a cellar in Damascus. To reveal the end of the Nazi promoter of 'Gas-Vans' - one of the most terrible machines for mass extermination of the Jews - was the French magazine Revue XXI, which finally revealed the mysterious end of the murderer of which all trace had been lost.

The fate of Brunner, hauptsturmführer of the SS, has long been hidden in a squalid cellar in Damascus until research by some journalists was able to convince Serge Klarsfeld, known Nazi hunter, with their reliability. The one who was defined by Adolf Eichmann as his "best man" is actually dead in 2001, at the age of 89 years, while he was a prisoner of the country that gave him shelter for decades.

The one who described the Jews as' human garbage ', to which Eichmann turned to find a' solution 'that mechanized the extermination of the Jews - that on the Eastern Front were executed by the SS and ORPO (police of order) through' shootings mass that 'quickly caused neuroses, mental disorders, depressive crises and suicides among the perpetrators - had fled from Germany to the 1945 to end up in Syria in the 60 years.


I Gas-Vans, whose paternity must however be attributed to the Soviet NKVD, were trucks equipped with a sealed body where passengers were killed through the carbon monoxide produced by the exhaust gas that was conveyed inside the vehicle (later on the insecticide gas was used Zyklon B).

The limited capacity and the slowness of the Gas-Vans, mainly derived on the basis of Opel-Blitz, and the frequent depressive crises of their servants, led to the next step, the culmination of the final solution: the construction of gas chambers in concentration camps such as Auschwitz, Sobibór and Treblinka.

The post-war period

Immediately placed at the top of the wanted list compiled by Simon Wiesdenthal's organization of 'Nazi hunters', Brunner was deemed primarily guilty, as head of the Drancy internment camp, of deportation to the 130.000 extermination camps rounded up in France occupied.

Escaped from the allies (*) thanks to a fake Red Cross passport, under the false identity of Georg Fischer, he reached Egypt in the 1953. Here he lent himself to the cause of the Algerian National Liberation Front by finding weapons to combat the French colonial rule and thus entering the black list of the French secret services that attempted his life with a bomb package in the 1961. Survived the attack, but still sentenced to death in absentia by France, he fled to Damascus where, with the false identity of Abu Hussein, he remained for decades under the protection of the Syrian regime of Hafez el-Assad. Here he instructed the Syrian secret services in the torture techniques he had learned in the Gestapo.

Identified by the Israeli Mossad, it was once again the target of bomb parcels but they never succeeded in eliminating it.

The protection of the Assad regime turned into captivity when Brunner became a possible bargaining chip for commercial agreements and a sum of money offered by the German Democratic Republic. In a document found in the Stasi archives after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, it reads - 'Brunner, Alois, will probably be extradited from Syria to the GDR' 1988.

According to a statement by three former members of the Syrian secret service, following this negotiation Brunner was segregated in the basement of a building in the diplomatic district of Damascus for 'security reasons' - more likely only awaiting ratification of the agreement. The collapse of the Berlin Wall, therefore of the GDR, severed the contacts and canceled any possibility of extradition.

Alois Brunner was therefore destined to spend the rest of his life as if he were under house arrest in that basement because that closed door never opened again. Devoid of an eye and four fingers lost in repeated attacks, he grew old choosing between a potato and an egg as food until he slowly consumed himself and died at the age of 89 years. According to the description of former members of Syrian services his condition in the last years of his life was extremely 'miserable and squalid'. In the 2001, while the world had completely lost its traces, Brunner died and was buried in secret in the Al-Affif cemetery in Damascus.

In a telephone interview with the Chicago Sun-Times in the 1987, Brunner stated that he felt no regrets about the Holocaust, confirming his loyalty to National Socialism, his hatred of Jews as he felt for France. But the desperate cries of his jailers were frequent in the last years of his life.

* The possession of a false Red Cross passport and its transit to Rome before reaching Egypt are similarities associated with those of the Nazis evacuated through the so-called 'Ratline'. According to several sources not reported, the CIA was aware of Brunner's position.