Winnipegger describes mission to capture Dr. Josef Mengele
The best thing would have been to bring him to trial. If that wasn't successful then we could have killed him on the spot, yes.- Dr. Ethan Rubinstein
He was silent for 30 years. Now, he is telling his story.
Dr. Ethan Rubinstein is the Head of the Section of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Manitoba. He is often called upon to advise us during flu outbreaks.
Earlier in his life he pursued one of the most notorious Nazis ever known, Josef Mengele. Mengele was a German officer and physician at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. He is known as the Angel of Death for his gruesome, unethical medical experiments, carried out on holocaust prisoners.
It was rumoured that Mengele was later living between Paraguay and Brazil. Rubinstein was in Tel Aviv at the time, working as a resident in a hospital there. He became part of a team formed to go and hunt for Mengele.
"I was to try and capture Mengele, and if necessary, anaesthetize him and intubate him to bring him to trial," Rubinstein explained. "They wanted me to speak to him because I spoke German and I was a physician. They wanted to get as much information as possible, in preparation for the trial."
As well, Rubinstein was to take care of others on the team, if anyone should get hurt.
"There was an accomplice who turned out to be a double agent in Paraguay. He was supposed to help us meet Mengele in a remote jungle area. His story was that Mengele was in a military camp but none of that was true," he recalled.
"The best thing would have been to bring him to trial. If that wasn't successful then we could have killed him on the spot, yes."
Rubinstein believes he is not in danger any longer. "I think that this whole Nazi saga and the second generation has already passed," he said.
Throughout, the goal remained the same. "...to get Mengele," stated Rubinstein. "To bring him to justice."
In the end Rubinstein felt it was the right thing to do, even though Mengele was never found. He went swimming and never came back.
Despite the intrigue of this story, Rubinstein doesn't expect anything to come of it. "Had he been caught it would have been something different." He goes on to say that Mengele's research should be completely abandoned. "Nothing good can come out of that," he insisted.