Questions resurface on whereabouts of Nazi Brunner

VIENNA — Questions regarding the whereabouts of Alois Brunner have surfaced again.

Brunner served during World War II as personal secretary to Adolf Eichmann, Hitler's chief aide.

The person whom Eichmann once described as his "best man" orchestrated the deaths of some 128,000 Jews from Austria, Greece, France and Slovakia during the war years.

In an issue earlier this year of the German newsmagazine Focus, Brunner's picture appeared as part of a list of Interpol's 12 most-wanted people.

According to the magazine, which quoted information from the Interpol center in Lyon, France, the former SS officer who was previously believed to be living undisturbed in Damascus, Syria, had obtained an Austrian passport under an assumed name and moved to Argentina.

As far back as 1992, diplomats in Syria maintained that Brunner was dead.

A similar assessment was made by French lawyer and Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld.

If Brunner is alive, he would be 83.

After the appearance of the report in Focus, an Austrian diplomat in Cairo said the Austrian authorities had checked all passport applications since 1991 and had found no one who fit Brunner's age or other personal characteristics.

In April, the Spanish newspaper El Pais also published the Interpol most-wanted list, but claimed that Brunner was traveling on a German passport.

Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, reacting to the Focus story, said in an interview that he was certain Brunner was still living somewhere in the Middle East.

He discounted reports that Brunner had obtained a false Austrian passport, saying "Brunner's nationality was always registered as German, so he could neither obtain an old nor a new Austrian passport."

In the meantime, Karl Ollinger, member of the Austrian Parliament for the Green-Alternative Party, has filed a parliamentary request to Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schussel to learn whether Brunner had recently obtained an Austrian passport.