How a dusty old briefcase led to the discovery of one of history’s most horrifying monsters.
Nicholas Kulish first moved to Berlin as an undergraduate in 1995; he went back in 2004 as a Fulbright scholar, and then again in 2007 to be the bureau chief of the New York Times, where he and his co-author, Souad Mekhennet, stumbled across the story of Aribert Heim. Heim, also known as Dr. Death, had been the world's most wanted Nazi fugitive; Mekhennet discovered a briefcase in Cairo that revealed that Heim had lived out his life as a Muslim convert in Egypt until he died in 1992. If you're anything like me, you swore off Nazi books years ago as a matter of principle, but The Eternal Nazi manages that rare feat of being as cinematically riveting as it is morally serious. Nick and I, who have known each other since he returned to Berlin on behalf of the Times, sat down to discuss how he found himself writing about the SS, and what it was like to finish a book about Nazis while reporting on the conflict in South Sudan.