A trove of documents set to be released this week reveals the schemes Israel used to try to capture Holocaust "Angel of Death" Josef Mengele. Mossad agents crafted elaborate plots, including wiretapping, break-ins, and a honey trap, Yediot Aharonoth reports, via the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel. The previously top-secret "Meltzer File" confirms an account that spies came close to capturing the twisted doctor responsible for carrying out horrific experiments on Auschwitz prisoners. There has been much speculation as to why agents didn't grab a man matching Mengele's description they tracked to Brazil in 1962. But Yosef Chen, an ex-Mossad agent who compiled the documents, told the Post that it simply was "not entirely clear if it was him." Even as Israel captured other notorious Nazis like Adolf Eichmann, Mengele, aided by his rich family back in Germany, remained elusive.
"There is no path [Mossad] didn't try," Chen says. Plots to track Mengele included tapping the phone of his only son, Rolf, in Germany, and reading his mail. Agents were hoping the two might talk on the birthday they shared in March 1983. (It turns out Mengele was already dead.) They also planned to tell Rolf—code named "the Lame One"—that his father had fallen ill in hopes he would lead them to their target, per the Times. A plan to plant an "attractive, intelligent" agent as Rolf's private secretary also failed. Mengele drowned while swimming in 1979, and he was said to be buried under a false name. A doctor announced in March that his bones, discovered in a Brazilian grave in 1985, would be donated to medical research, per the Times. (A Holocaust survivor's search for his twin went viral.)