|“||All of the Jews deserved to die because they were the Devil's agents and human garbage. I have no regrets and would do it again.||„|
|~ Alois Brunner on his reasons for the killings|
Alois Brunner (April 8th, 1912 – 2001 or 2010) was an Austrian Schutzstaffel (SS) officer who worked as Adolf Eichmann's assistant. He joined the Nazi Party in 1931 and the Sturmabteilung (SA) in 1932. After joining the SS in 1938, he was assigned to the staff of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Austria and became its director in 1939. He worked closely with Eichmann on the Nisko Plan, a failed attempt to set up a Jewish reservation in Nisko, Poland, later that same year.
Brunner is held responsible for sending over 100,000 European Jews to ghettos and concentration camps in eastern Europe. He was commander of the Drancy internment camp outside Paris from June 1943 to August 1944, from which nearly 24,000 people were deported.
After some narrow escapes from the Allies in the immediate aftermath of World War II, Brunner fled West Germany in 1954, first for Egypt, then Syria, where he remained until his death. He was the object of many manhunts and investigations over the years by different groups, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Klarsfelds and others. He was condemned to death in absentia in France in 1954 for crimes against humanity, and Interpol issued a red notice for him in 1987.
In 1961 and 1980, letter bombs were sent to Brunner while he was a resident in Syria. As a result of the letter bomb he received in 1961, he lost an eye, and in 1980, he lost the fingers on his left hand when the parcel blew up in his hands. The senders of the letter bombs were not known, but are believed to have been the Israeli government.
A 2018 article in Newsweek by journalist Ronen Bergman disclosed that the 1961 bomb was sent by Military Intelligence Unit 188, a branch of the Israel Defense Forces and was the first target of a new method of letter bomb that was developed for deployment against ex-Nazi scientists working for Gamal Abdel Nasser in developing missiles targeting Israel. The article, excerpted from Bergman's book Rise and Kill First, says that Brunner was located by Israeli spy Eli Cohen. According to information released by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, it was behind the 1980 bomb.
The government of Syria under Hafez al-Assad came close to extraditing him to East Germany before this plan was halted by the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Brunner survived all the attempts to detain him and was unrepentant about his activities to the end. During his long residence in Syria, Brunner was reportedly granted asylum, a generous salary and protection by the ruling Ba'ath Party in exchange for his advice on effective torture and interrogation techniques used by the Germans in World War II. He also allegedly helped Bashar al-Assad in his plans to exterminate Syria's Jewish population.
Starting in the 1990s and continuing for two decades, there was periodic media speculation about Brunner's exact whereabouts and his possible demise. In November 2014, the Simon Wiesenthal Center reported that Brunner had died in Syria in 2010, and that he was buried somewhere in Damascus. In 2017, a Syrian guard known only as "Omar" came forward and revealed that Brunner had in fact been confined to a basement for the last few years of his life without proper sanitation or the ability to leave, eventually dying in his confinement in 2010.