Why Israel Never Brought Josef Mengele to Justice

The Nazi physician Josef Mengele spent most of World War II at Auschwitz, where he performed horrifically sadistic experiments on selected inmates. After the war, much like Adolf Eichmann, he escaped to South America, where, again as with Eichmann, the Mossad sought to capture him and take him to Israel for trial. Now that the Israeli intelligence agency has unclassified its file on Mengele, details of his escape, and of the Jewish state’s decision to give up on its hunt, are publicly available. Ronen Bergman writes:

Mengele fled Germany to Argentina in 1948, using false documents given to him by the Red Cross. (According to the Mossad’s file, the organization was aware that it was helping a Nazi criminal escape justice.) In Buenos Aires, he lived at first under an assumed name, but later reverted to his own name. He even had a nameplate on his door: Dr. Josef Mengele.

Though much about his wartime activities was known, the German government had not requested his extradition, and even supplied him with documents clearing him of a criminal record. The German ambassador in Buenos Aires is quoted in the Mossad file on Mengele as saying he received orders to treat Mengele as an ordinary citizen since there was no arrest warrant for him. When, finally, a warrant was issued in 1959, Mengele caught word. He went into hiding, first in Paraguay and then in Brazil.

In 1962, the Mossad agent Zvi Aharoni successfully tracked him down, and reported to his superiors.

But the head of the Mossad at the time, Isser Harel, ordered the matter dropped. On the same day, the agency had learned that Egypt was recruiting German scientists to build missiles; disposing of them was Harel’s top priority. The Mossad was still a young agency, short of resources and manpower. . . . Half a year later, Harel was replaced by Meir Amit, who ordered the Mossad to “stop chasing after ghosts from the past and devote all of our manpower and resources to threats against the security of the state.” . . . With the backing of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Amit focused on the Egyptian missile program until that threat was resolved . . . and then on gathering intelligence on the Arab states that proved critical to Israel’s victory in the 1967 war.

The hunt for Mengele resumed in 1977 under the orders of the newly elected Prime Minister Menachem Begin. But it was not until the early 1980s that the Mossad learned that Mengele had died in 1979.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Brazil, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Israel & Zionism, Levi Eshkol, Menachem Begin, Mossad, Nazis

 

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin