By The Sun Newspaper
A NOTORIOUS Nazi war criminal who invented mobile gas vans to kill Jews died in a miserable squalid cellar surviving on army rations after fleeing to Syria, it has been revealed.
The fate of Alois Brunner – who was Nazi hunters’ number one wanted war criminal – had remained a mystery after he fled Germany in 1953, evading capture.
But now three Syrian spies have revealed the evil Nazi – who tutored them in torture and clandestine police work – died in misery, squalor and agony in a grim basement in Damascus, aged 88.
The monster, who described Jews as “human garbage”, was personally responsible for rounding up at least 130,000 Jewish men, women and children in France – and having them shipped off for extermination.
The twisted killer’s fate was revealed by French magazine XXI this week, with veteran Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld saying the report was “highly credible”.
A diabolical Nazi, Brunner was the inventor of mobile “gas vans” – innocent looking lorries whose passenger compartments were sealed.
Exhaust gas from the engine of the trucks fed back into the van, killing all its occupants.
The vans operated outside of ghettos and concentration camps in eastern Europe before mass killing factories like Auschwitz were built.
He occupied the number one slot of most wanted war criminals on a list compiled by by the Simon Wiesdenthal Nazi-hunting organisation in America.
Brunner, who died in 2001, was the right-hand-man to Adolf Eichmann, the supreme logistician of the Holocaust of who plotted the transports across Europe to the extermination camps in occupied Poland.
He fled to Syria after the war where the Assad regime sheltered him for decades, but his notoriety meant he was practically kept as a prisoner.
Israeli agents managed to send him parcel bombs on two occasions, which wounded him but did not kill him.
Now three ex-members of the Syrian secret service who he tutored in torture and clandestine police work revealed his final years were spent in “miserable and squalid” conditions beneath an apartment block in Damascus.
One of his guards called Omar said Brunner, who went by the name of Abu Hussein, “suffered and cried a lot in his final years. Everyone heard him. In the end he couldn’t even wash himself.
“All he had to eat were army rations – awful stuff – and an egg or a potato. He had to choose one or the other.”
Nazi-hunter Mr Klarsfeld, whose father was murdered in Auschwitz, once flew to Damascus in the 1980s to plead with the Assad regime to give Brunner up for trial in the west.
“I am satisfied to learn that he lived badly rather than well in exile,” he said.
Brunner left Germany for Egypt in 1953 with a passport in the name of Georg Fischer and worked for a time as a gun-runner for Algerians fighting to throw off French colonial rule in their country.
Then he moved on to Damascus, where he taught secret service agents all the terrible interrogation and torture techniques which the Gestapo used during the Third Reich.
Convicted by French courts in absentia to death, he lost an eye and four fingers in the two Mossad bomb attacks, but nothing diminished his love of Nazism or his hatred of the Jews.
In a 1987 telephone interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, he stated that he didn’t regret his part in the Holocaust.
“All of them deserved to die because they were the devil’s agents and human garbage. I have no regrets and I would do it again.”
According to XXI, Brunner was practically under house arrest in his apartment in the diplomatic quarter of Damascus from 1989 onwards.
He was moved into the basement by the Assad regime for unspecified “security reasons.”
“Once he was in the room, the door was closed and never opened again,” Omar told the magazine.
He claimed Brunner was buried secretly in accordance with Muslim rites in the city’s Al-Affif cemetery in December 2001.
“In a dictatorship like Syria, he was untouchable as long as the dictator didn’t want rid of him,” said Mr Klarsfeld.
“Until the end he kept his hatred of Jews intact, as well as his faith in National Socialism.
“He was someone who hated France as much as he hated Jews.”