Josef Mengele

Josef Mengele (16 March 1911 – 7 February 1979), also known as the Angel of Death (Todesengel in German), was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He earned doctorates in anthropology from Munich University and in medicine from Frankfurt University. He initially gained notoriety for being one of the SS physicians who supervised the selection of arriving transports of prisoners, determining who was to be killed and who was to become a forced labourer, but is far more infamous for performing grisly human experiments on camp inmates, for which Mengele was called the "Angel of Death". In 1940, he was placed in the reserve medical corps, following which he served with the 5th SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking in the Eastern Front. In 1942, he was wounded at the Russian front and was pronounced medically unfit for combat, and was then promoted to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) for saving the lives of three German soldiers. He survived the war, and after a period living incognito in Germany he fled to South America, where he evaded capture for the rest of his life despite being hunted as a Nazi war criminal.

Early life
Josef Mengele was born, the eldest of 4 children, to Karl and Walburga Mengele in Günzburg, Bavaria, Germany. Mengele's father was a founder of Karl Mengele farm machinery for milling, sawing and baling, which produces major farm machinery under the name Karl Mengele & Sons. In 1935, Mengele earned a Ph.D in Anthropology from the University of Munich. In January 1937, at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt, he became the assistant to Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer who was a leading scientist mostly known for his research in genetics with a particular interest with twins. From this association, Mengele probably developed his life-long fascination with the study of twins.

Military service
In 1937 Mengele joined the Nazi Party. In 1938 he received his medical degree and joined the SS. Mengele was conscripted into the army in 1940 and later volunteered to the medical service of the Waffen-SS, the combat arm of the SS, where he distinguished himself as a soldier. In June 1941 he was awarded the "Iron Cross Second Class" for his efforts at the Ukrainian Front. In January 1942, while serving with the SS Wiking Division deep behind Soviet lines, he pulled two German soldiers


Subsequently Mengele became Chief Medical Officer of the main infirmary camp at Birkenau. Just prior to his transfer to Auschwitz.) "He had a look that said 'I am the power. (Lifton.from a burning tank." Mengele was wounded during this campaign. As a doctor. On May 24. 1943. it is now known that it has a higher occurrence in children suffering from malnutrition and a 2 . this camp was liquidated and all its inmates gassed. Mengele took turns with the other SS physicians at Auschwitz in meeting incoming prisoners at the camp. since he could not return to combat. some to the left. When it was reported that one block was infested with lice. he became medical officer of Auschwitz-Birkenau's "Gypsy camp". He also recruited Berthold Epstein. He was particularly interested in identical twins. Mengele replaced another doctor who had fallen ill at the Nazi extermination camp Birkenau. Mengele was promoted to the rank of SS captain in April 1943. 346. using inmates for human experimentation. During this time he resumed an association with his mentor. In August 1944. Epstein proposed to Mengele a study into treatments of the disease called Noma that was noted for particularly affecting children from the camp. a Jewish pediatrician. and was awarded the "Iron Cross First Class" as well as the "Black Badge for the Wounded and the Medal for the Care of the German People. he drew a line on the wall of the children's block 150 centimetres (about 5 feet) from the floor. He was not. they would be selected and placed in special barracks. Human experimentation Mengele used Auschwitz as an opportunity to continue his research on heredity. In one instance. Human Genetics and Eugenics in Berlin. and sent those whose heads could not reach the line to the gas chamber. Mengele earned the sobriquet "Angel of Death" for the cruelty he visited upon prisoners. While the exact cause of Noma remains uncertain. who was at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology. p. the Chief Medical Officer of Auschwitz — superior to him was SS-Standortarzt (garrison physician) Eduard Wirths. where it was determined who would be retained for work and who would be sent to the gas chambers immediately. he was posted at the Race and Resettlement Office in Berlin. von Verschuer.'" said one survivor. though.[citation needed] Mengele was referred to as "der weiße Engel" ("the White Angel") by camp inmates because when he stood on the platform inspecting new arrivals and directing some to the right. Auschwitz In May 1943. his white coat and white arms outstretched evoked the image of a white angel. During his 21-month stay at Auschwitz. Mengele gassed every single one of the 750 women assigned to it.

killing them instantly. to him they seemed to be the perfect expression of "the abnorm". by Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Shiela Cohn Dekel. they came forward about the special privileges they were given in Auschwitz owing to Mengele's interest in twins. Auschwitz prisoner Alex Dekel has said: "I have never accepted the fact that Mengele himself believed he was doing serious work — not from 3 . The subjects of Mengele's research were better fed and housed than ordinary prisoners and were. and how as a result they have suffered.[ Mengele took an interest in physical abnormalities discovered among the arrivals at the concentration camp. notably the Ovitz family . Mengele often called them "my dwarf family". When visiting his child subjects. Most of the victims died.lower immune system response. for the time being.the children of a Romanian artist. this also caused gangrene. and other brutal surgeries. he introduced himself as "Uncle Mengele" and offered them sweets. Many develop the disease shortly after contracting another illness such as measles or tuberculosis. safe from the gas chambers. he was also called "Mengele the protector". After the experiment was over. Mengele then began dissecting and meticulously noting each piece of the twins' bodies. He supervised an operation by which two Romanie children were sewn together to create conjoined twins. performing sterilization and shock treatments. various amputations of limbs. Only 100 pairs of twins survived. "Once Mengele's assistant rounded up 14 pairs of Roma twins during the night. changing eye colour by injecting chemicals into children's eyes. the hands of the children became badly infected where the veins had been resected. Mengele placed them on his polished marble dissection table and put them to sleep. Mengele's experiments also included attempts to take one twin's eyeballs and attach them to the back of the other twin's head. they toured in Eastern Europe as the Lilliput Troupe. These included dwarfs. of whom seven of the ten members were dwarfs. these twins were usually murdered and their bodies dissected." At Auschwitz. 60 years later. Rena Gelissen's account of her time in Auschwitz details certain experiments performed on female prisoners around October 1943. Mengele would experiment on the chosen girls. He then injected chloroform into their hearts. The book Children of the Flames. Some survivors remember that despite his grim acts. Prior to their deportation. chronicles Mengele's medical experimental activities on approximately 3. as the children who survived his medical experiments and injections. Mengele did a number of twin studies. because of either the experiments or later infections.000 twins who passed through the Auschwitz death camp during World War II until its liberation at the end of the war.

. Gross Rosen was dissolved at the end of February when the Red Army was close to taking it. yet Mengele feared being captured. he married Martha Mengele. The unit hurried west to avoid being captured by the Soviets and were taken as prisoners of war by the Americans. 1945. Mengele may have been assisted by the ODESSA network. Mengele. she then went to Argentina with her 14-year-old son. While in Buenos Aires. Meran. Mengele at first worked in construction. who arranged Mengele's escape to Argentina via Innsbruck. the widow of his younger brother. and Genoa. He also got to know other Nazis in Buenos Aires. Once. He was doing well in South America. Mengele lived with his family in a German-owned boarding house in the Buenos Aires suburb of Vicente Lopez from 1958 to 1960. Mengele ran a butcher shop — major surgeries were performed without anaesthesia.the slipshod way he went about it. specializing in illegal abortions and was briefly detained by police on one occasion for the death of a patient during an abortion." After Auschwitz The SS abandoned the Auschwitz camp on January 27. his former colleague at the Institute of Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Bohemia. Mengele worked in other camps for a short time and. Nobody ever questioned him — why did this one die? Why did that one perish? The patients did not count. From July 1945 until May 1949. especially after news of Eichmann's capture and subsequent trial were revealed. Mengele was a doctor who became mad because of the power he was given. staying in contact with his wife and his old friend Hans Sedlmeier. he bought a 50 percent share of Fadro Farm. initially registered under his own name. He professed to do what he did in the name of science. He was only exercising his power. he left Argentina in 1962 and moved to Paraguay after managing to get a Paraguayan passport in the name of "José Mengele". on May 2. Bavaria. a pharmaceutical company. was released in June 1945 with papers giving his name as "Fritz Hollmann". it was a heart that was removed. In South America In Buenos Aires. Thus. Sterzing. It was horrifying. joined a Wehrmacht medical unit led by Hans Otto Kahler. Irene. and Mengele transferred to Gross Rosen camp in Lower Silesia. who allowed him an affluent lifestyle in subsequent years. such as Hans-Ulrich Rudel and Adolf Eichmann. Another time. the same year. again without anaesthesia. Karl Jr. Mengele practiced medicine. again working as camp physician. but without any anaesthetic. but it was a madness on his part. 4 . Dieter. he worked as a farmhand in a small village near Rosenheim. Three years later. but soon came in contact with influential Germans. he divorced his wife. In 1955. I witnessed a stomach operation — Mengele was removing pieces from the stomach.

a German colony north of Encarnación in the department of Itapúa. Mengele moved to Nova Europa. In the seclusion of his Brazilian hideaway. His anxiety. working as manager of their farm. a German citizen who had committed his crimes in the name of the Third Reich. Agents of Mossad debated whether or not to also kidnap him. Israel decided to open an embassy in Asunción." The same year. but Mengele rejected this proposal. after all. Instead. Mengele became happy and relaxed never fearing capture. Israel had less of a claim for his extradition than Germany." They checked on the last known location for Mengele in Argentina. Isser Harel. they still had Eichmann in a safe house inside Argentina. Mengele might also have been on the plane. he claims to have told him that "had it been possible to start the operation several weeks earlier. By the time Eichmann had been brought out of the country. Mengele hoped that Paraguay would be safer for him. Chief Executive of the Secret Services of Israel (1952– 1963). as dictator Alfredo Stroessner was of German descent and even recruited former Nazis to help the country develop.Shortly after the capture of Eichmann in May 1960 by the Israeli Mossad. But Benjamin Weiser Varon. Mengele was spotted at his home. Israel had received reports that Mengele was in Brazil. Among other locations in Paraguay. According to a senior Mossad man. Paraguay— perhaps an ideal base from which to pursue Mengele. He presented a dilemma. he reports no sightings of Mengele in 1960. was "not given any instructions by the foreign office on Mengele of any kind. But after the war. Mengele had escaped to Paraguay. but was never found. where he lived with Hungarian refugees Geza and Gitta Stammer. He was. haunted him. Rudel and Gerhard discussed relocating Mengele to Bolivia where he could spend time with Klaus Barbie. When asked about the secondary target by the co-pilot who helped transport Eichmann at the time. especially after he heard of the Mossad's abduction of Eichmann and the trial and execution in Israel." "I must confess I was not so eager to find Mengele. However. Israeli ambassador from 1968–1972. he lived in a bungalow in a suburb of 5 . but feels that they might have got him if they could have moved more quickly. In his account of the operation. Mengele was a secondary objective of this operation. but they kept this information to themselves. he lived on the outskirts of Hohenau. It wasn't even mentioned. personally presided over the successful effort to capture Eichmann in Buenos Aires. when his relationship with the Stammer family was coming to an end. None of his victims was Israeli—Israel came into existence only several years later. but he had apparently moved on just two weeks prior. about 200 km (120 mi) outside São Paulo. however. and determined that it would not be possible to conduct another operation at the same time. In 1974. The Six-Day War in 1967 forced concentration of resources.

Brazil. whose ID card he had used since 1976. He was buried in Embu das Artes under the name "Wolfgang Gerhard". and it was believed that he was still hiding there. has a very high birthrate of twin children: one in five pregnancies. but Allied forces were convinced that Mengele was dead. such as Fritz Bauer. visited him there and found an unrepentant Nazi who claimed that he "had never personally harmed anyone in his whole life". Everything was kept quiet "to protect those who knew him in 6 . Albert Speer. An arrest warrant was issued by the German authorities. and expressed in a letter his astonishment and disgust over the remorseful position taken by Hitler's chief architect and Minister of Armaments. letters. Manhunt Mengele was listed on the Allies' list of war criminals as early as 1944. but they turned out to be false. Mengele was exhumed on 6 June 1985 and identified with high probability by forensic experts from UNICAMP. 1979. Argentine historian Jorge Camarasa speculated that Mengele. His name was mentioned in the Nuremberg trials several times. Mengele's health had been deteriorating for years. in Bertioga. In a 2008 book about Mengele. given his divorce from Irene in 1955 and his marriage to Martha in 1958. a municipality in Brazil. His theory was rejected by Brazilian scientists who had studied twins living in the area. Mengele showed little regret or remorse for his crimes. Subsequently.São Paulo for the last years of his life. and papers hinting at the grave in Embu. suspicions had grown that he was still alive. which was also claimed by Irene and the family in Günzburg. Israel's Mossad. German attorneys. Mengele sightings were reported all over the world. In 1959. never having known his father before. they suggested genetic factors within that community as a more likely explanation. his only son Rolf. with a substantial amount of the population looking Nordic. Cândido Godói. and private investigators such as Simon Wiesenthal and Beate Klarsfeld followed the trail of the "Angel of Death". the German police raided Hans Sedlmeier's house in Günzburg and seized address books. continued his human experimentation in South America and as a result of these experiments. and he died on February 7. Rolf Mengele issued a statement saying that he "had no doubt it was the remains of his father". allegedly protected by flying ace Hans-Ulrich Rudel and possibly even by President Alfredo Stroessner. under the alias Rudolph Weiss. where he accidentally drowned or possibly suffered a stroke while swimming in the sea. The last confirmed sightings of Mengele placed him in Paraguay. In 1985. In 1977.

Mengele's new-found admiration for the "simple political concept" led him to mix his studies of medicine and politics as his career choice. and bone transplantation from one person to another. While attending University of Munich (located in the city that remained one of Adolf Hitler's focal points during the revolution) studying philosophy and medicine with an emphasis on anthropology and paleontology. Bone. The central leader of the experiments was Josef Mengele. As a result of these operations. and nerves were removed from the subjects without use of anesthesia. Eduard Wirths was the physician in charge at Auschwitz. the São Paulo Institute for Forensic Medicine stored his remains and attempted to repatriate them to the remaining Mengele family members. and nerve regeneration.South America". The bones have remained in the custody of Dr. mutilation. and Mengele was transferred to the German Auschwitz concentration camp located in Poland on May 30. owing to the family's refusal to accept them. Mengele received his PhD for a thesis entitled "Racial Morphological Research on the Lower Jaw Section of Four Racial Groups". 1943. muscle. a DNA test confirmed Mengele's identity. which ranged from injection of different chemicals into the eyes of twins to see whether it would change their color to literally sewing twins together in attempts to create conjoined twins. for the benefit of the German Armed Forces. to study bone. Rolf said. and nerve transplantation experiments From about September 1942 to about December 1943 experiments were conducted at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. The twins were arranged by age and sex and kept in barracks between experiments. 7 . Experiments on twins Experiments on twin children in concentration camps were created to show the similarities and differences in the genetics of twins. muscles. The Nazi organization saw his studies as talents. Rubens Maluf. Sections of bones. and permanent disability. as well as to see if the human body can be unnaturally manipulated. There. many victims suffered intense agony. After the exhumation. Mengele organized genetic experiments on twins. In 1992.500 sets of imprisoned twins at Auschwitz. Mengele stated: "this simple political concept (fascism) finally became the decisive factor in my life". muscle. Mengele was not the only doctor at Auschwitz nor was he even the highest-ranking physician: SS captain Dr. Contrary to common belief. Only 200 individuals survived these studies. He had evaded capture for 34 years. who from 1943-1944 performed experiments on nearly 1. which suggested that a person's race could be identified by the shape of the jaw.

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