Over the weekend, the death of Alois Brunner, the world's most wanted Nazi, was all but confirmed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Brunner, who was the top aide to "Final Solution" architect Adolf Eichmann, is thought to have died four years ago in Syria, where he lived for decades after sending nearly 130,000 Jews to Nazi death camps during World War II.
Though the death was first suspected nearly four years ago, the ongoing Syrian civil war made independent confirmation impossible. Brunner would have turned 102 two years old on Monday.
In a conversation with Jodi Rudoren, Efraim Zuroff, the noted Nazi hunter, summed up Brunner's legacy thusly:
He was a notorious anti-Semite, sadist, fanatic Nazi. The only known interview we have with him was to a German newsmagazine in 1985, in which he was asked if he had any regrets, and he said, ‘My only regret is I didn’t murder more Jews.’
Brunner's presumed 2010 death is more than a surreal historical footnote for a number of reasons. His story is not just one of a mass killer who escaped, but rather a man who found a way to continue killing long after he fled Europe. To put this all into some context, I spoke with Deborah Lipstadt, a professor and Holocaust historian at Emory University, about Brunner's post-war legacy.