While authorities in Brazil are trying to determine if the body of a man found there is that of Nazi Josef Mengele, West German authorities remain on the trail of a number of other Nazis who are allegedly responsible for many deaths. Alfred Streim, head of the central office for the prosecution of National Socialist crimes of violence, gave the names of several to reporters yesterday.
But, he added: ``We are looking for at least a dozen more we know or believe to be still alive. But I will not release their names just now because they apparently think they are safe and there is no point in spooking them prematurely.''
Dr. Mengele's son Rolf, a lawyer in the Black Forest town of Freiburg, announced Tuesday that his father died in Brazil in 1979, and claimed that a body exhumed last week in Sao Paulo is that of his father.
In a statement read for Rolf Mengele by a family spokesman in Munich, the Nazi doctor's son said that he had personally ``and on the spot'' confirmed his father's death in Brazil in 1979.
He said he will be presenting further evidence of his father's death to the Frankfurt public prosecutor, who has been in charge of the search for Mengele since 1961.
Mr. Mengele said the family had remained silent about Josef Mengele's death until now so as not to endanger those who had sheltered the SS man in Latin America.
Josef Mengele allegedly performed ghastly medical experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz, and selected new arrivals coming off the trains for the gas chambers. He is alleged to have personally sent up to 400,000 men, women, and children to their deaths.
The Frankfurt public prosecutor opened the newest phase of the Mengele case after a university professor tipped him that a former director of the Mengele family's farm-implement firm in Bavaria had bragged to a small group that he arranged for Mengele to receive money in Latin America.
A search of the ex-director's home on May 31 turned up a large batch of correspondence, including some letters from one of the couples that now say they helped shelter Mengele, and which reported his death to the family in Germany.
On the basis of these documents, the Germans asked the Brazilians to exhume the body of a man buried under the name of Wolfgang Gerhard. Forensic experts are now examining the remains in Sao Paulo.
At the top of the list of Nazis still being sought is Alois Brunner, who was an assistant to Adolf Eichmann, the SS official in Berlin responsible for moving Jews from all over Europe to the concentraton and death camps. The Israelis had already found Mr. Eichmann in Latin America and brought him to Jerusalem where they convicted and executed him for mass murder.
Mr. Brunner personally supervised the deportation of Jews from France, Greece, Hungary, Austria, and Slovakia. He is believed to be living in Syria.
Another wanted man is Herbert Heim, who was the chief doctor at the concentration camps at Mauthausen and Oranienburg. Like Mengele, Mr. Heim is alleged to have performed illegal medical experiments on prisoners, and to have killed many ill prisoners with injections.
Mr. Streim said he also is looking for Walter Kutschmann, who is alleged to have been involved in the massacre of Jews and Poles in the Polish town of Drohobycz, and for Josef Schwammberger, who was in charge of the ghetto at Rozwadow in Poland and later of the labor camp at Przemysl. At the latter place, he selected prisoners for shipment to Auschwitz, where they were killed.
For many years, the fate of Martin Bormann, deputy to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, was uncertain. He was regularly reported to have been sighted in various Latin American countries.
But on April 11, 1973, the then Frankfurt public prosecuter announced that Mr. Bormann's body had been found and identified in Berlin, where he died while trying to escape from Hitler's bunker.