MUNICH, West Germany — The state of Bavaria used public funds to bail out a nearly bankrupt agricultural machinery firm owned by the family of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, a newspaper said Friday.
The Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said Bavarian Economic Minister Anton Jaumann confirmed the bailout but refused to say how much public money went to rescue the 110-year-old firm, which was founded by Mengele's father, Karl.
Jaumann was traveling Friday and could not be reached for comment on the newspaper report.
The body of a man who drowned off a beach in in Brazil in 1979 was identified last year as that of Mengele by a team of international experts.
Mengele, a doctor who fled Germany after the war, had received payments from his family of between $100 and $175 a month during more than 35 years of hiding in South America, his son, Rolf Mengele, said last year.
The Mengele family firm, Soehne Maschinenfabrik und Eisengiesserei GmbH und Co. of Guenzburg, Bavaria, specializes in agricultural machinery and is the largest of its kind in Europe.
The firm's business amounted to $110 million in 1984. However, it has since suffered losses because of the effects of some European Community farm-policy decisions and the April 26 Soviet nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, Jaumann told the newspaper.
Jaumann said the rescue of the firm was justified because it dominates the economy in Guenzberg, employing 1,100 people in a town of 14,000. He said about 500 other local businesses depend on the firm.
A management consultant was hired to save the firm from insolvency, and several banks waived their demands on the firm, Jaumann said.
The company has been in family hands for three generations and is currently headed by Josef Mengele's nephews, Karl-Heinz and Dieter Mengele.
Mengele, who never worked in the family business, was dubbed the "Angel of Death" at the Auschwitz concentration camp in then Nazi-occupied Poland for weeding out victims for his gruesome medical experiments from the thousands of Jews and that Gypsies he marked for death.