Report: Fall of Berlin Wall Halted Top Nazi's Extradition From Syria

Austrian news magazine reports that prominent Nazi war crimes suspect Alois Brunner evaded a possible trial in 1989, as plans to have him deported from Syria to East Germany fell apart.

Prominent Nazi war crimes suspect Alois Brunner evaded a possible trial in 1989, as plans to have him deported from Syria to East Germany fell apart as the Communist regime in East
Berlin collapsed, Austrian news magazine Profil reported Monday.

Austrian-born Brunner was a senior SS commander who is suspected of being responsible for murdering some 130,000 Jews. It is unclear whether the 99-year old is still alive.

AP

Profil quoted previously unpublished documents of the East German Stasi intelligence service showing that the Communist state assumed that Brunner might be extradited by its ally Syria, where he was living.

By April 1989, only a few months before the Berlin Wall was toppled, the matter had been brought to the attention of East German leader Erich Honecker.

"Comrade Honecker has decided that the attorney general of the DDR shall initiate appropriate proceedings to prepare Brunner's prosecution, for the event that he arrives in the GDR," one document said, referring to East Germany's official name, the German Democratic Republic.

Plans to bring Brunner to court were going ahead on the initiative of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, French-based anti-Nazi activists who were themselves victims of the Nazis and who tracked down Klaus Barbie, a wartime Gestapo police chief.