Alois Brunner was born on 8 April 1912 in Rohrbrunn, a village situated in the Hungarian part of the then Austrian-Hungarian Empire. At the age of 19, he joined the Austrian Nazi Party NSDAP, and in December 1932 the SA, the Nazi militia. On 19 June 1933, after the NSDAP had been banned in Austria, he joined the “Austrian Legion”, in the ranks of which he met Adolf Eichmann (see “related cases”). One week after Crystal Night which took place between 9-10th of November 1938, Brunner applied to become a member of the SS. He was admitted on 10 April 1939. Being a close associate of Adolf Eichmann, he was at first assigned to the “Central Office for Jewish Emigration” in Vienna, which he later directed. In the years to come he headed several Gestapo special commandos with the aim of deporting Jewish people to concentration camps.
In Vienna in October 1942, Brunner had 20’000 Jews deported. Between February and May 1943 he had twice as many deported from Salonika in Greece. From 18 June 1942 on, he took over the command of the collection and transit camp in Drancy, France, in order to accelerate the deportation of French Jews to concentration camps. He left Paris on 17 August 1944 heading for Slovakia, where he had another 13’500 Jewish people sent to concentration camps. On 13 April 1945 he sent the last deportation convoy from the camp of Sered in Slovakia. It is estimated that a total of 147’000 Jews were deported under the direct instructions of Alois Brunner.
In order to evade capture after the war, Brunner assumed the identity of a Wehrmacht soldier with the name of “Alois Schmaldienst”. Soon after that, certain events turned out to be in Brunner’s favour and helped him escape justice. His namesake Anton Brunner, a Captain of the SS like him, was executed by Soviet troops in Vienna. For a long time thereafter, Alois Brunner was thought to be dead. The press often referred to his namesake by the name of “Anton-Alois Brunner”.
In the post-war confusion, his new identity made it possible for Brunner to find a job as a driver in a US military base, and subsequently to obtain new identity papers, with which he managed to reside undisturbed in the region of Essen, in Germany, until 1953.
In 1953, the German authorities renewed more vigorously the search for Nazi war criminals. As a result, Alois Brunner assumed the name of Georg Fisher and left Europe. After a stay, in Cairo, he went to Damascus, where he was taken in by, and later led, a network of Nazi-supporters.
In 1960, a former spy in the office of the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt) revealed the presence of Brunner in Syria to a French agent.
On 3 September 1961 Brunner went to the central post office in Damascus in order to pick up a parcel. Two post officials were killed by what turned out to be a parcel bomb. Brunner lost an eye and several fingers of his left hand, but survived. He was however declared dead by the Syrian police.
Alois Brunner was last seen in October 1992 in Damascus, leaving his apartment in an ambulance.
Several sources claim that Brunner is dead and buried in a Christian cemetery in Damascus.