The Ultimate Reunion of a Father and His Son

It was the year of 1975 when from Florence, Italy Rudiger started his journey for Egypt.

The purpose with which Rudger Heim came to Egypt was to meet his father, Aribert Heim. He met his father after a long span of time. He was six years old when he last saw his father. Both father and son had their meeting in a luxurious hotel but this meeting didn’t appear like a get together of father and son after years of separation. On the other hand it was more like a formal meeting. They neither spoke much nor hug each other.

Instead, Aribet kept on asking series of questions to his son Rudiger. However, in the mid of all these Rudiger had only one question to ask his father and this was the question which he was finding hard to put before his father that whether or not his father was a Nazi. Rudiger did not know the reason behind for which his father left for Egypt. His father also without giving any real cause departed from Germany in the year 1962.

Rudiger had always seen Nazi character in Hollywood cinemas where the Germans were represented as Nazi rulers who killed people superior to them.  In order to keep a constant flow of conversation Rudiger after visiting his father started sending letters to him. For a while Rudiger forgot his query about whether his father was a Nazi or not. However, his doubt regarding this would have re-emerged if he would know that presently the police were searching for his father. Rudiger wanted to know that for what reason his father was living in Egypt. But this is again a kind of question which he found hard to ask his father. Rudiger also wanted to know from him the reason behind his departure from Germany but he failed to get such chance. Hence, question regarding the probability of Aribert’s war crime and military occupation never came to surface. Rudiger returned to Florence, Italy in January 1976, from where he started his journey for Egypt.

At that time he was working on his application for his medical school. After Rudiger came back to Florence, he kept on sending letters to his father, so that he could keep in touch with him. After publish of Der Spiegel on 5th February 1979, he came to know about all the brutal facts of his father. Now all his questions were answered. It contained the story of a Nazi doctor with the title NS Crimes: Out the Back It described the story of a Nazi doctor who made an escape and was still hiding. And this doctor turned out to be his own father Aribert  Heim who was also known as Dr.Death .The article described many criminal activities of his father, such as injecting chemicals directly into the hearts of the victims. He forced patients to go through unwanted operations, removed their organs and killed them while operating, The Atlantic reports.

After all these happenings Rudiger decided to visit Cairo, Egypt once again. However, this visit of father and son was unlike their first visit. By this time all the hidden truth came up. When asked by Rudiger about Mauthasen concentration camp he said that he tried his best to come out from the concentration camp as early as he could.

As a result of this discussion several contradictory incidents came forward. Such Aribert said that he left the concentration camp in 1941 however, a witness saw him working there in 1942. Then he was charged with the murder of a patient. Here, on his defence he said that the patient came up for his hernia operation and once he started to operate the patient was observed having a cancer. And this was the reason he had to take out the patient’s intestine from his abdomen. He said:”If someone comes in at that point, who has never seen an operation, he would say, “Look he’s tearing out all his intestines.” These reasons which were placed by Aribert Heim drove his son very emotional. As Rudiger was not sure what exactly happened in the concentration camp therefore even after so many allegations on him Rudiger believed his father to be innocent. However, he also did not found his father completely innocent as he was also a part of the camp.

During his father’s death who died of rectal cancer, Rudiger once again visited Egypt. Though the question of being a Nazi or not remained unsolved technically but he got success in achieving his son’s believe which is undoubtedly the biggest forgiveness in his life.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE