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June 21, 1985 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-06-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

T

24

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, June 21, 1985

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Angel Of Death

Continued from preceding page

a cab and go straight to the
embassy, where I would sit
down and talk with an official
— any official — for ten
minutes. After that, I would go
back and talk for a short time
every day, and every second or
third day, I would go to dinner
with the United States Infor-
mation Service officer.
I had other little tricks.
Maybe my phone wasn't
listened to, but before I went
to Paraguay, I told someone at
the State Department I was
going. Every so often, I would
call him from Asuncion. The
State Department's main
number in Washington is
answered, "State Depart-
ment," and I would ask for my
contact's extension. He would
come on, and I would say, "I
just wanted to let you know
I'm down here and every-
thing's going fine." He had no
idea why I was calling, why I
would waste a five dollar call
just to say that, but he would
say, "Oh good luck, see you in
a couple of weeks." If someone
was listening, they'd know I
called the State Department
and think that I might have
some official connection. I
think they're more worried
about someone with an official
connection than anything else.
Last year I spent all of
November and December in
South America. During that
time I visited an isolated
farmhouse in southern Par-
aguay that was an armed
camp. The family that lived
there told me that Mengele
used to be an honored guest at
their house and had visited
them as recently as 1982. They
showed me an awesome collec-
tion of weapons and informed
me that anything I might
write about them better be
favorable.

In Paraguay I got to know
Col. Alejandro Von Eckstein,
a government intelligence
officer, who co-sponsored
Mengele's Paraguayan cit-
izenship papers in 1959 and
was an admitted friend and de-
fender of the Nazi fugitive. I
wrote Von Eckstein from the
States, telling him what I was
after and saying that I wanted
to tell his side of the story in
a fair and accurate way.
I had to speak with Von
Eckstein's advisor before I
could see the colonel, but there
was no official response to my
written request. I just had to
go to Paraguay and take my
chances. Finally Von Eckstein
did agree to be interviewed at
length.
The first four or five days
that we met, the colonel was
very proper, very reserved. We
talked about everything but
Mengele. Then he started to
open up and we became much
friendlier, traveling to different
parts of Paraguay together.
One night we stayed at a
jungle hotel, formerly a
favorite of Mengele's and
owned by a Belgian who co-

operated with the Waffen SS
during the war. The inn, called
the Hotel Tirol, is set in the
middle of a tropical rain forest
in an area of Paraguay called
New Bavaria because so many
Germans have settled there.
The hotel has its own private
landing strip for quick get-
aways.
To my dismay, when I want
to my room for the night, I
found that there was a snake
slithering around on the floor.
I do not know whether it was
poisonous, but I had no real
desire to find out. So instead of
sleeping, I spent most of the
night trying to get the snake
out of my room.
The next day I told Von
Eckstein about my unwanted
roomate. He shrugged. "So? I
had a frog in my room. It's the
jungle."
That was a bit upsetting,
but one incident connected
with Von Eckstein really
scared me. It happened short-

"When I went to my
room, I found a
snake slithering
around on the floor.
I didn't know
whethet it was
poisonous, but I had
no real desire to
find out."

ly after I ariived in Paraguay.
The colonel's advisor was sup-
posed to meet me at my hotel
about 7 p.m. He called at 7 and
said he was running late at
work and would be there at
8:30. At 8:30 he called and said
he would meet me inthe hotel
dining room.
Dinner came and went
without a sign of the man I
was supposed to meet. I was
beginning to get a bit anxious.
There is an unofficial curfew in
Asuncion at 1 a.m. At 11:30,
my contact said he was just on
his way home. "I'll give you
my address," he said. "It's
just outside the city. Take a
taxi. You can get here in a half
hour."
I was nervous. What if I got
stuck out there after 1 a.m.? So
I called up my partner in New
York and said, "Joe, I've run
across an amazing coincidence
here. I'm just on my way to see
Col. Alejandro Von Eckstein's
advisor. Now you're not going
to believe this, but he lives on
a street that has the same
name as your street when you
lived on Staten Island. And
the number is only two digits
off your old address."
Joe caught on. At least, if
anything happened, he knew
where I had last been in Para-
guay.
I took a cab to the address,
found the advisor's house and
sat with him, talking, for about
ten minutes. Within a short

Continued on Page 51

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