Alois Brunner was a Nazi, member of the Waffen-SS and assistant to Adolf Eichmann. After WWII he lived, more or less well hidden, in western Germany until he went to Syria in '54, aided by the BND.

Wikipedia: "In Syria, he was hired as a government adviser. The exact nature of his work is unknown." German wikipedia states he was advised the Syrian dictatorship on "the jewish question", whatever that means in this context.

Now this text claims:

the ties between the Ba’ath regime and the far-right going back to the days of the Cold War, when Hafez al-Assad sheltered Alois Brunner, the assistant of Adolf Eichmann. Brunner would help Assad restructure the Ba’athist state’s secret services on a model based on the Gestapo and the Waffen-SS.

...without giving a source.

Is there any evidence that Brunner advised on security service structure and organization?

This is connected to my older question about Nazis and Iraq's Mukhabarat.

  • What counts in your eyes as evidence? Net is full of stories about him. But much relies on news outlets and personal accounts of spies or people fed by such agents. It's all fishy. When did he die? Multiple accounts disagree, "official story" now relies on the exact group of murky sources. Feb 5, 2018 at 11:13
  • 1
    good question. Several independent testimonials that agree on core questions. Or structural similarities between the Syrias Intelligence Service(s) and the RSHA or SS or Gestapo (compared to for example French security services).
    – mart
    Feb 5, 2018 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


What counts as evidence? The internet is full of stories about him. But much relies on news outlets and personal accounts of spies or people fed by such agents. It's all fishy. When did he die? Multiple accounts disagree. The quasi "official story" now relies on the exact group of murky sources. Only biology tries to assure us that he probably does not live anymore.

Apparently, he is dead now. Good. When did he die?

He died in 1996!

Alois Brunner: The Nazi War Criminal Who Found A Home In Syria How exactly Brunner escaped the continent and ended up in Syria has never been fully explained, although it appears that Israeli intelligence were well aware of his whereabouts, at least until the 1980s. Indeed, the Mossad sent him letter bombs over the years which resulted in Brunner losing an eye and several fingers. […] Brunner was also an unrepentant Nazi -- in 1987, he told the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper that he wished he had killed even more Jews.
However, details of his life in Syria remain unconfirmed and mysterious. Reports emerged that he had died in Damascus in 1996 and given a proper burial. But German journalists visiting Syria claimed to have seen him alive in the Meridian Hotel in Damascus as late as 2001.

(Note that this was published shortly after two German federal states officially offered a bounty on his capture)

He died in 2010!

A Long-Sought Fugitive Died Four Years Ago in Syria, Nazi Hunter Says(2014)
JERUSALEM — A leading Nazi hunter said on Monday that Adolf Eichmann’s top lieutenant, long one of the world’s most wanted fugitives, died at least four years ago in Syria, where he had escaped justice and may have advised the government. […]
The Wiesenthal Center did not announce Mr. Brunner’s death when the German operative reported it in 2010, or this year, when it published its annual list of fugitives without him on it. Mr. Zuroff said it came up now only because of an inquiry by The Sunday Express.[…]

He died in 2009!

Judenmörder Alois Brunner starb in Syrien(2014)
Alois Brunner schickte im Nazi-Regime Hunderttausende Juden in den Tod. Nach dem Krieg tauchte er in Syrien unter, half dem Geheimdienst beim Foltern. Nun wurde bekannt: Der NS-Verbrecher ist seit fünf Jahren tot. (Translation of the last line: The Nazi criminal has been dead for five years.)

When did he die?

SS-Massenmörder Brunner – Herzliche Grüße aus der Sonne (SS mass murder Brunner – Concordial greeting from under the sun)(2017)

He died in 2010!

Eichmann's Best Man Lived and Died in Syria
The reported death of Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner, Adolf Eichmann's unrepentant "right-hand man," reminds us how he lived a long consequence-free life.
Over the weekend, the death of Alois Brunner, the world's most wanted Nazi, was all but confirmed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Brunner, who was the top aide to "Final Solution" architect Adolf Eichmann, is thought to have died four years ago in Syria, where he lived for decades after sending nearly 130,000 Jews to Nazi death camps during World War II.

Though the death was first suspected nearly four years ago, the ongoing Syrian civil war made independent confirmation impossible. Brunner would have turned 102 two years old on Monday.
Brunner's presumed 2010 death is more than a surreal historical footnote for a number of reasons. His story is not just one of a mass killer who escaped, but rather a man who found a way to continue killing long after he fled Europe. To put this all into some context, I spoke with Deborah Lipstadt, a professor and Holocaust historian at Emory University, about Brunner's post-war legacy.
"Brunner ended up in Syria, a regime in a place with less than friendly relations towards Jews, with a human rights record that is pretty despicable, and he participated," Lipstadt told me. "He didn't just go fishing for the next 30 years. He participated and apparently advised [former Syrian dictator Hafez] Assad."
In a separate interview, Zuroff noted that while living in Syria under the pseudonym Dr. Georg Fischer, Brunner had taught the elder Assad how to torture. (In the ongoing Syrian Civil War, Hafez Assad's son Bashar has carried on this legacy of terror and torture on an industrial and unfathomable scale.)

Actually, now wait, he died in 2001!

Elendes Ende von Eichmanns "Bluthund"(2017)
Allegedly, Brunner died as a prisoner of the Assad regime in 2001 in a cellar of the regime's secret service. … He only received horrendous food at the end … cried a lot … A fanatical nazi right o the end … Brunner plottet to capture Eichmann …
All well until the younger Assad took over …

(Note: Brunner is said to have plotted to re-kidnap Eichmann out of Jerusalem. )

The official German account:

NS-Verbrecher Brunner starb 2001 in Syrien
(Notabene, this link now goes to archive.org. The original account has been deleted from the originating website. Cue Shirley Bassey…)

So he escaped with the aid of the US and the newly formed BND, owing him due to his former connection to the Organisation Gehlen (or even later). He is said to have lived secretly in Syria, aiding the government in building up a secret service, and teaching them how to torture, and how to kill Jews.
Yet, journalists were capable of locating him numerous times over the years, and he kept on giving photo interviews. It seems he received a nice little pension from the German government for loyal service. Address and bank accounts and Occupation seemed to be quite widely known.

The government of Syria is not on record for an official account. Only former Syrian secret service members talked about their comrade, they did so with undisclosed identities. Can we trust them? 1

The government of Germany is not on record for an official account. Only former German secret service members talked about their comrade, they did so with undisclosed identities. Can we trust them?

It is widely reported that the nazi Brunner went to Syria after the war were he kept being a nazi doing what nazis do. During the entire 20th century he lived their protected by Syrian and German government bodies. What exactly went on there? I pledge to phrase that as: very probably no good, but nobody really knows.


More sources, more examples of varying levels of trutsworthiness:
Der lange Schutz für die Nazi-Täter
Warum tilgte der BND die Akte des Eichmann-Helfers?
Why the Mossad failed to capture or kill so many fugitive Nazis
Mitteilung der Forschungs- und Arbeitsgruppe "Geschichte des BND" (MFGBND)
Well, is he really dead? Austria (and France) remained unsure in 2014: In Oesterreich bleibt Brunner vorerst auf Nazi Kopfgeldliste
Nazi War Criminal Alois Brunner's Presence in Damascus Hits the Papers Again
Fall of Berlin Wall halted extradition of key Nazi: report

Die Geheimhaltung der Eichmann-Akten durch den Bundesnachrichtendienst
Österreich und die Flucht von NS-Tätern nach Übersee

Oliver Schröm & Andrea Röpke: "Stille Hilfe für braune Kameraden: das geheime Netzwerk der Alt- und Neonazis", Chr. Links: Berlin, 22002.

Georg Hafner, Esther Schapira, Die Akte Alois Brunner. Warum einer der größten Naziverbrecher noch immer auf freiem Fuß ist. Reinbeck bei Hamburg 2002, Burchard Brentjes, Geheimoperation Nahost, Berlin 2001.


Two of the better journalistic accounts is found here:

Géraldine Schwarz: "Die Nazis und der Nahe Osten" Welt am Sonntag, 2015:
Es war Rauff damals, Ende der 40er-Jahre, klar, dass er nicht lange in Rom bleiben konnte. Er musste raus aus Europa. „Dr. Homsis“ Auftrag war seine Chance. Der Auftrag lautete: Deutsche Spezialisten anwerben, die syrische Armee reformieren und auch den Nachrichtendienst.
Der deutsche Historiker Martin Cüppers, Autor einer Biografie über Rauff, hat herausgefunden, dass der ehemalige SS-Mann vom Päpstlichen Institut Santa Maria dell’Anima aus agierte, dem Sitz der deutschen und österreichischen katholischen Gemeinde in Rom.
Das Auswärtige Amt dagegen behinderte die Strafverfolgung. Es warnte Altnazis, wenn ihnen in Drittländern Strafverfolgung drohte. Und Italien, der ehemalige Verbündete Hitler-Deutschlands, drückte beide Augen fest zu.
Rauff sagte einmal, seine Aktivitäten in Syrien hätten sich gegen Israel gerichtet. Westliche Geheimdienste, die ihn beobachteten, befanden: „Rauff organisiert die Restrukturierung des syrischen Geheimdienstes nach Gestapo-Linien.“

According to that article, Rauff was explicitly ordered to create a Syrian secret police along the lines of the Gestapo. When Rauff was told to leave Syria (along with a number of his comrades) several other nazis came to Syria to replace him and his operations. Among them Brunner.

Erwin Riess: "Reger Pendelverkehr. Curriculum Vitae eines Kriegsverbrechers. Der Eichmann-Vertraute Alois Brunner konnte nach der Kapitulation Nazi-Deutschlands seine Karriere nahezu unbehelligt fortsetzen" [Detailing some of the stations of his life. After the war he was one of the secret agents working for the BND, CIA, Nasser's Egypt, FLN in Algeria and Syria.

According to former GDR Stasi insights the MfS registered Brunner as a BND and CIA resident in Syria:

Vom Eichmann-Komplizen zum Gehlen-Experten 1960 verhörte die syrische Geheimpolizei Brunner – als Ergebnis soll er eine Position als "Berater für Judenfragen" bei einem syrischen Geheimdienst erhalten haben. Nach anderen Versionen fungierte er als Sicherheitsberater der syrischen Regierung und als Waffenhändler.

Danach realisierte er bis 1962 unter dem Tarnnamen Ali Mohammed nachrichtendienstliche Aufträge Gehlens und der CIA in Kairo und kehrte anschließend zurück nach Damaskus. Dort war er u.a. als Co-Direktor der Waffenschieberfirma OTRACO tätig und war häufig Gast auf Empfängen westdeutscher Konzerne in Ägypten und Syrien.

In Damaskus unterhielt er zahlreiche Kontakte zu westdeutschen Diplomaten, Journalisten und Touristen und war auch in der österreichischen Gemeinde gut bekannt.

Ein Mitarbeiter des Sicherheitsreferates des BND hatte am 1. Juli 1988 vermerkt: "Eine Sichtung der hier vorhandenen 581 Seiten (Microfilm) ergab, daß das gesamte Material fast ausschließlich aus der Zeit 1957 bis 1964 stammt und von Quellen und Gesprächspartnern aus Nahmittelost geliefert wurde." Er vermerkt weiter, daß es in den "hier vorhandenen Unterlagen" keinen Hinweis gebe, "daß Brunner zu irgendeiner Zeit für den BND tätig war."

Aber Jan Korte fand auch einen Hinweis, daß der leitende BND-Mitarbeiter Volker Foertsch "persönliches Wissen" habe, daß Brunner ehemals BND-Mitarbeiter in Damaskus gewesen sei.
Offenbar hat – zumindest in dieser Angelegenheit – das Bundeskanzleramt massiv Einfluß auf die Akten- und Archivarbeit des BND genommen. Auf Anweisung des Bundeskanzleramtes von 1994 sollten die Brunner-Akten im Rahmen einer "Notvernichtungshandlung" beseitigt werden. Zuvor hatte ein BND-Mitarbeiter dem Bundeskanzleramt noch einmal mitgeteilt: "Zu Brunner alias Fischer liegt im BND umfangreiches Erkenntnismaterial vor, das fast ausschließlich aus der Zeit von 1957 bis 1964 stammt."

This is somewhat corroborated in an Austrian newspaper:

Alois Brunner: Wie der NS-Kriegsverbrecher seiner Verhaftung entging

But the official German government stance on this remains dubious and somewhat in denial:

Deutscher Bundestag Drucksache 18/3777 18. Wahlperiode 20.01.2015 – Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Jan Korte, Sevim Dağdelen, Ulla Jelpke, weiterer Abgeordneter und der Fraktion DIE LINKE. – Drucksache 18/3599 –

1 : Bashar al-Assad denied that Brunner ever was in Syria.

  • 3
    This is helpful because you collect a lot of (possible) sources and this helps to evaluate any claim someone makes (upvote!). Buuuut I don't see a real stab at the actual question.
    – mart
    Feb 5, 2018 at 13:37
  • 1
    @mart A main point I wanted to drive is that almost all "evidence" comes from poisoned wells. Circumstantial evidence aplenty seems to confirm the worst about AB. Real evidence is that all those 'services' were and are lying, kept information and are now proven to be involved in destroying evidence. Without access to the (remaining) files – from multiple sources – this is all a gigantic nightmare. Feb 5, 2018 at 14:18
  • I understood your post this way!
    – mart
    Feb 5, 2018 at 14:30
  • @mart OK. – I hope this amending partial answer does not also poison the well for more direct answers… – Have to pause on this one now. Unsure how well so much untranslated stuff is received here. If you feel the need or just want to translate some highlights, you are explicitly invited to do so. Feb 5, 2018 at 14:34
  • The Tagesschau is not an "official german source" - it's just the main news magazine of the main public radio in Germany. Feb 6, 2018 at 6:19

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