Brunner, who sent an estimated 130,000 Jews to their deaths, made his home in Damascus, Syria, where he found the conditions much to his liking. Although there has been much guff peddled about Brunner’s postwar activities over the past few days—some of which may be true—there is no doubt that he worked in cahoots with the Assad regime, or at least certainly enjoyed its protection.
However, Brunner was not the only perpetrator of the Holocaust mooching around the streets of the Syrian capital. In terms of gruesome numbers, Franz Stangl, the former commandant of Treblinka extermination camp, had some 800,000 murders on what remained of his conscience, and he arrived in Damascus in September 1948 with the assistance of a Roman Catholic bishop…
In fact, the list of some habitués of Cairo in the 1950s and the 1960s reads like a who’s who of Nazi Germany, featuring as it did the rescuer of Mussolini, Otto Skorzeny; the ace Stuka pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel; the leader of a notorious SS penal unit, Oskar Dirlewanger; and the particularly odious and violently anti-Semitic stooge of Goebbels, Johannes von Leers.
What made the relationship between these former Nazis and the Egyptians and Syrians so successful was that it was a genuinely two-way deal.