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Josef Mengele Women’s Camp.

A Monster Among Men

Joseph Mengele

Warning Some Parts of this Story are Disturbing.

The Holocaust seems so distant, so far removed from our reality. For us, it is hard to even conceive of the massive horrors and atrocities committed by Josef Mengele and the Nazis. But the few “Mengele twins” survivors remember. They remember being children when they were spared from outright execution but delivered to a decidedly crueller fate.

He was dubbed the Angel of Death – the Nazi doctor who tortured and killed thousands of children in grisly experiments at Auschwitz.

Dr Josef Mengele’s medical facility at Auschwitz was perhaps the most horrifying place the Holocaust produced. Who was this man behind it all, and what made him the notorious “Angel of Death?”

In addition to being sites of slave labour and human annihilation, many Nazi concentration camps also functioned as medical experimentation centres throughout the Holocaust. Under the guise of researching new treatments or investigating racial eugenics, doctors conducted painful and often fatal experiments on thousands of prisoners without consent. The man most commonly associated with these pseudo-medical experiments is Dr Josef Mengele, whose notoriety among the inmates of Auschwitz earned him the nickname ‘the Angel of Death’.

 The Angel of Death, Josef Mengele, was obsessed with twins and performed horrific experiments on them for reasons that still remain unclear. One of his experiments was with eye colour. Mengele or one of his assistants would inject dyes into an eye of a child, preferably a set of twins. The dyes often resulted in injury, sometimes complete blindness, not to mention excruciating pain.

Another series of experiments which Mengele performed was with twins in whom he would inject one with a deadly virus, and after that twin died, kill the other to compare organ tissue at autopsy.

He carried out twin-to-twin transfusions, stitched twins together, castrated, or sterilised twins. Many twins had limbs and organs removed in macabre surgical procedures, performed without using an anaesthetic. Only a few of the estimated 3,000 twins at Auschwitz survived his sadistic madness.

One of the greatest periods of human tragedy, misery, and suffering was the bleak time period known as the Holocaust. Perpetrated against the Jews by a madman known as Hitler, the Holocaust led to a time period of terrible tragedy and unimaginable suffering. Pain and sorrow mark those terrible years, but to those who perpetrated such crimes; it was not a period of sorrow but a period of enlightenment.

The darkness of men’s hearts can often be found in the vileness of their deeds. One of the most horrific and cruel men to ever have existed, a man by the name of Joseph Mengele.

The term “Holocaust,” originally from the Greek word “holokauston” which means, “sacrifice by fire,” refers to the Nazi’s persecution and planned slaughter of the Jewish people. The Hebrew word “Shoah,” which means “devastation, ruin, or waste,” is also used for this genocide.

Nazi persecution, arrests, and deportations were directed against all members of Jewish families, as well as many Gypsy families, without concern for age. Homeless, often orphaned, many children had frequently witnessed the murder of parents, siblings, and relatives. They faced starvation, illness, brutal labour, and other indignities until they were consigned to the gas chambers.

Josef Mengele was an SS physician, infamous for his inhumane medical experimentation upon concentration camp prisoners at Auschwitz.

Josef Mengele was born on 16 March 1911; the eldest of three brothers, young Joseph was a more poetic soul. He studied in both Munich and Frankfurt, specialising first in philosophy and then in medicine. He also studied music, the arts, and even skiing. But what captured his interest far more than anything else was that of the medical sciences. His fascination with biology and hereditary traits led him to Frankfurt, where he would receive medical training and learn about racial differences on a genetic and hereditary level.

Mengele lacks a terrible back-story to which one can point a finger when attempting to explain his vile acts. In fact, Mengele was a popular and witty rich boy whose father ran a successful business in Germany at a time when the national economy was cratering. Everybody at school seemed to like him, and he got excellent grades. Upon graduating it was natural that he would go on to university, and that he would succeed at anything he put his mind to.

Mengele earned his first doctorate, in anthropology, from the University of Munich in 1935. He did his post-doctoral work at Frankfurt under Dr Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, who was a fully indoctrinated Nazi eugenicist. National Socialism always held that individuals were the product of their heredity, and von Verschuer was one of the Nazi-aligned scientists whose work seemed to legitimise that assertion.

Von Verschuer’s work revolved around hereditary influences on congenital defects such as cleft palate. Mengele was an enthusiastic assistant to von Verschuer, and he left the lab in 1938 with both a glowing recommendation and a second doctorate in medicine. For his dissertation topic, Mengele wrote about racial influences on the formation of the lower jaw.

Mengele had joined the Nazi Party in 1937, at the age of 26, while working under his mentor in Frankfurt. In 1938, he joined the SS and a reserve unit of the Wehrmacht. His unit was called up in 1940, and he seems to have served willingly, even volunteering for the Waffen-SS medical service.

Between the fall of France and the invasion of the Soviet Union, Mengele practised eugenics in Poland by evaluating Polish nationals for potential “Germanization,” or race-based citizenship in the Reich.

In 1941, his unit was deployed to Ukraine in a combat role. Josef Mengele – the rich, popular kid and outstanding student – distinguished himself again at the front for bravery bordering on heroics. He was decorated several times, once for dragging wounded men out of a burning tank, and repeatedly commended for his dedication to service. In January 1943, a German army surrendered at Stalingrad. That summer, another German army was eviscerated at Kursk. Between the two battles, during the meat grinder offensive at Rostov, Mengele was severely wounded and rendered unfit for further action. He was shipped back home to Germany, where he again connected with his old mentor von Verschuer and received a wound badge, a promotion to captain, and the assignment of a lifetime: In May 1943, Mengele reported for duty to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

No longer able to fight, he arrived at Auschwitz in the spring of 1943, where his cruel experiments on prisoners swiftly made him more infamous than any of the other camp physicians.

Mengele got to Auschwitz during a transitional period. The camp had long been the site of forced labour and POW internment, but the winter of 1942-43 had seen the camp ramp up its killing machine, centred on the Birkenau sub-camp, where Mengele was assigned as a medical officer. With the uprisings and shutdown in the Treblinka and Sobibor camps, and with the increased tempo of the killing program across the East, Auschwitz was about to get very busy, and Mengele was going to be in the thick of it.

Accounts given later by both survivors and guards describe Josef Mengele as an enthusiastic member of the staff who volunteered for extra duty, managed operations that were technically above his pay grade, and seemed to be almost everywhere at once. Mengele was absolutely in his element in Auschwitz; his uniform was always pressed and neat and he always seemed to have a faint smile on his face.

The Nazi party was fascinated with a practice that we would call Eugenics, a practice that focused on creating the best possible human race by selectively breeding them and eliminating those who were unfit to pass their genes forward. Eugenics was the core backbone of the Nazi idealism; the myth of the pure Aryan race would go on to justify a great many cruelties done in the name of advancing the good of the human race. The idea of racial purity was also extremely appealing to Joseph, who had spent a great deal of time learning the genetic differences of each race.

Josef Mengele; Auschwitz prisoners to be used in Mengele’s experiments. Josef Mengele, German physician and SS captain. In 1943, he was named SS garrison physician (Standortartz) of Auschwitz. In that capacity, he was responsible for the differentiation and selection of those fit to work and those destined for gassing. Mengele also carried out human experiments on camp inmates, especially twins. National Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Now, this is where the story truly begins to get horrifying. Up until now, Joseph’s life was par the course of a young German man. He grew up a patriot, was interested in medicine, and served in the Nazi party, as most young men in that time period did. What would begin to happen next is one of the darkest parts of human history.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was both a concentration camp and an extermination centre, thus from the summer of 1942, whenever new convoys of Jewish deportees arrived at Auschwitz, there would be a selection to determine which people were fit to work and which would be killed. Mengele was regularly involved in these selections on the arrivals ramp, where in addition to deciding which of the incoming prisoners would perish immediately; he searched for twins and people with unusual physical conditions.

Mengele had a particular obsession with twins and conducted experiments on thousands of pairs of siblings during his time at Auschwitz, the majority of whom were young Jewish or Romani children.

The memory of this slightly built man, scarcely a hair out of place, his dark green tunic neatly pressed, his face well scrubbed, and his Death’s Head SS cap tilted rakishly to one side, remains vivid for those who survived his scrutiny when they arrived at the Auschwitz railhead. Polished boots slightly apart, his thumb resting on his pistol belt, he surveyed his prey with those dead gimlet eyes. Death to the left, life to the right. Four hundred thousand souls – babies, small children, young girls, mothers, fathers, and grandparents – are said to have been casually waved to the left-hand side with a flick of the cane clasped in a gloved hand.

There were moments when his death mask gave way to a more animated expression when Mengele came alive. There was excitement in his eyes, a tender touch in his hands. This was the moment when Josef Mengele, the geneticist, found a pair of twins. Mengele was almost fanatical about drawing blood from twins, mostly identical twins. He is reported to have bled some to death this way.

Mengele had become interested in utilising twins for medical research through Verschuer, famous for experimenting with identical and fraternal twins in order to trace the genetic origins of various diseases. During the 1930s, twin research was seen as an ideal tool in weighing the variant factors of human heredity and environment. Mengele, with his mentor, had performed a number of legitimate research protocols using twins as test subjects throughout the 1930s. Now, at Auschwitz, with full license to maim or kill his subjects, Mengele performed a broad range of agonising and often lethal experiments with Jewish and Roma (“Gypsy”) twins, most of them children.

Mengele performed both physical and psychological experiments, experimental surgeries performed without anaesthesia, transfusions of blood from one twin to another, isolation endurance, reaction to various stimuli. He made injections with lethal germs, sex change operations, the removal of organs and limbs, incestuous impregnations.

The survivors tell how as children in Auschwitz they were visited by a smiling “Uncle Mengele” who brought them candy and clothes. Then he had them delivered to his medical laboratory either in trucks painted with the Red Cross emblem or in his own personal car to undergo his experiments.

One twin recalls the death of his brother:

“Dr. Mengele had always been more interested in Tibi. I am not sure why – perhaps because he was the older twin. Mengele made several operations on Tibi. One surgery on his spine left my brother paralyzed. He could not walk anymore. Then they took out his sexual organs. After the fourth operation, I did not see Tibi anymore. I cannot tell you how I felt. It is impossible to put into words how I felt. They had taken away my father, my mother, my two older brothers – and now, my twin …”

Twins Bernard and Simon Zajdner were deported in May 1944. The twins were victims of Josef Mengele’s “medical experiments.”

The twins, Bernard and Simon Zajdner, born Dec. 28, 1929, were deported with their sister, Micheline, on May 20, 1944.They were victims of Josef Mengele’s inhuman “medical experiments.” Eva Mozes and her identical twin, Miriam, were survivors of the deadly genetic experiments conducted by Josef Mengele. Their parents, grandparents, two older sisters, uncles, aunts and cousins were killed in the Holocaust. After the liberation of the camp, Eva and Miriam were the first two twins in the famous film taken by the Soviets – often shown in footage about the horrors of Holocaust.

Likewise, at Auschwitz, Dr. Herta Oberhauser killed children with oil and evipan injections, removed their limbs and vital organs, rubbed ground glass and sawdust into wounds. She drew a twenty-year sentence as a war criminal, but was released in 1952 and became a family doctor at Stocksee in Germany. Her license to practice medicine was revoked in 1960. (Laska)

Near the end of the war, in order to cut expenses and save gas, “cost- accountant considerations” led to an order to place living children directly into the ovens or throw them into open burning pits.

According to U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, full statistics for the tragic fate of children who died during the Holocaust will never be known. Some estimates range as high as 1.5 million murdered children. This figure includes more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of institutionalised handicapped children who were murdered under Nazi rule in Germany and occupied Europe.

Like many concentration camp doctors, he regularly drew blood from his ‘patients’ until they fainted and administered previously untested medications to monitor their effects, which often resulted in permanent debilitation or death.

This man, who made such swift decisions about the fate of thousands of human beings, was bizarrely called ‘Onkel Mengele’ or ‘the good uncle’ by many of the children on whom he conducted experiments. He often brought them sweets or toys and is reported to have personally carried some infants to the gas chambers.

Within a month of his arrival at Auschwitz, an outbreak of Noma erupted in the Gypsy camp. Mengele’s solution was to send over 1000 Gypsies to the gas chamber. A similar event occurred in the women’s camp a month later, and the doctor sent more than 600 women with typhus to the same fate. In one of the most horrific exterminations, Mengele and a group of other officers circled a fire pit before about 10 dump trucks filled with children arrived. The trucks backed up to the fire and Mengele and the other officers started throwing the children into the pit. The children screamed, as they were burned alive, while others managed to crawl out of the pit. But the officers walked around the pit with sticks and pushed those who managed to get out back into the fire.

Volatile Temperament

Every doctor in his part of the camp was required to take a turn as the selection officer – dividing incoming shipments between those who were to work and those who were to be immediately gassed – and many found the work depressing. Josef Mengele adored it, and he was always willing to take other doctors’ shifts on the arrival ramp. In the normal course of his work, he managed an infirmary where the sick were executed, assisted other German doctors with their work, supervised inmate medical staff, and conducted his own research among the thousands of inmates he personally selected for the human experiment program he also started and managed.

The experiments he devised were ghoulish beyond belief. Motivated and energised by the seemingly bottomless pool of condemned human beings placed at his disposal, Mengele continued the work he had started at Frankfurt by studying the influence of heredity on various physical traits.

Identical twins are useful for this kind of genetics research because they, of course, have identical genes. Any differences between them, therefore, must be the result of environmental factors. This makes sets of twins perfect for isolating genetic factors by comparing and contrasting their bodies and behaviour.

Mengele assembled hundreds of pairs of twins and sometimes spent hours measuring various parts of their bodies and taking careful notes. He often injected one twin with mysterious substances and monitored the illness that ensued. He applied painful clamps to children’s limbs to induce gangrene, injected dye into their eyes – which were then shipped back to a pathology lab in Germany – and gave them spinal taps.

When the test subject died, the child’s twin would be immediately killed with an injection of chloroform to the heart and both would be dissected for comparison. On one occasion, Mengele killed 14 pairs of twins this way and spent a sleepless night performing autopsies on his victims.

As surviving Mengele victim Alex Dekel later stated:

“Mengele ran a butcher shop – major surgeries were performed without anesthesia. Once, I witnessed a stomach operation – Mengele was removing pieces from the stomach, but without any anesthetic. Another time, it was a heart that was removed, again, without anesthesia. It was horrifying. Mengele was a doctor who became mad because of the power he was given. Nobody ever questioned him – why did this one die? Why did that one perish? The patients did not count. He professed to do what he did in the name of science, but it was a madness on his part …”

The Ovitz family was a family of Romanian Jewish actors/traveling musicians who survived imprisonment at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

The Ovitz Family

The Ovitzes were a Jewish family from Romania, made up of seven brothers and sisters who all had a particular form of dwarfism. On their arrival at Auschwitz in 1944, Mengele personally prevented their immediate gassing, as he was intrigued by anyone who exhibited a physical abnormality. However, the tortures to which this family was subjected had, like most of Mengele’s experiments, little or no medical merit. He poured freezing and boiling water in their ears and extracted teeth, eyelashes and hair. Their suffering was acute and they anticipated their eventual murder but miraculously, all seven siblings survived. The youngest, Perla, later remarked on the dichotomy between Mengele’s sadistic acts and the polite manner he had often assumed towards her family.

Although Mengele became synonymous with the barbaric experiments carried out at Auschwitz, he was by no means the only physician to conduct tortuous and fatal medical trials on people deemed subhuman by the Nazi regime. Experiments also took place at Ravensbrück, Mauthausen and Dachau, where sterilisation techniques were tested on both male and female prisoners, as were the effects of drinking seawater to see if could be made potable. Mengele’s reputation for brutality was not solely based on his Auschwitz laboratory activities, however. On one occasion he ordered that 750 women be sent to the gas chambers, purely to solve the issue of a lice infestation in their block.

For all of his methodical work habits, Mengele could be impulsive. During one selection — between work and death — on the arrival platform, a middle-aged woman who had been selected for work refused to be separated from her 14-year-old daughter, who had been assigned death.

A guard who tried to pry them apart got a nasty scratch on the face and had to fall back. Mengele stepped in to resolve the matter by shooting both the girl and her mother, and then he cut short the selection and sent everybody to the gas chamber.

On another occasion, the Birkenau doctors argued over whether a boy they had all grown fond of had tuberculosis. Mengele left the room and came back an hour or two later, apologising for the argument and admitting he had been wrong. During his absence, he had shot the boy and dissected him for signs of the disease, which he hadn’t found.

In 1944, Mengele’s zest and enthusiasm for his work earned him a management position at the camp. In this capacity, he was responsible for public health measures at the camp in addition to his own research at Birkenau. Again, his impulsive streak surfaced when he made decisions for the tens of thousands of inmates.

Then it did take long before he was given the distinct title of Chief Camp physician of Auschwitz. Before that, however, he was placed in charge of the Romani people, known colloquially as Gypsies. Hailing from Romani, the Roma people were considered to be racially inferior. They were nomadic and curious people, who had an entirely different set of values and culture from the Germans. Hitler’s hatred of them was well documented and they were considered to be on par with the Jews in terms of inferiority. Great amounts of Gypsies were killed during the Holocaust and those who were not outright slaughtered were placed in concentration camps.

It was in Auschwitz where Joseph Mengele would begin to experiment with the Roma people in Section B of Auschwitz, which was known as the Gypsy camp. Without any restraints of ethics, morality or the government, Mengele would conduct cruel and terrible experiments upon these people. His interest was in human genetics and how traits were passed down from family to family. Questions such as nature vs. nurture, how did traits get passed down and how were the traits selected haunted, Joseph.

Twins, to Joseph, were the most interesting type of specimen because they would allow for him to conduct independent tests upon each of them and see how their genetic traits were similar or different from one another. His other fascination was with people who had a different eye colour in each eye (known as heterochromia iridium.) He would regularly harvest organs from twins or even remove the eyes from his victims in order to conduct experiments on them.

One form of experiment that he closely monitored was the widespread effects of gangrene on the human body. He would sequester several patients into medical tents and then document each stage of the disease’s progression with a meticulous amount of detail. He would offer them no help, nor would he give them medication. Instead, he watched people slowly die so that he could learn more about the human body.

It was said that when a twin would die due to a disease, Mengele would personally kill the other twin, so that he could perform an autopsy. This would allow for him to understand the effects that the disease had on the human body versus that of a healthy human body. The cost of such a type of experiment would never be allowed in a traditional medical system. Yet, he had no problem with his decision to end the lives of those whom he deemed to be unfit for this world.

The man was utterly depraved and psychotic. Yet, despite the fact that he conducted such evils such as sewing live people together in order to see what would happen, he acted with a cold demeanour and a dispassion that often surprised those whom he was killing. He had no compulsion against beating someone to death to watch how they died or sending people to the gas chambers, but he appeared to take no delight in his actions. Rather, it was a cold, quiet fascination that he conducted his experiments.

German Nazi doctor and war criminal Josef Mengele Photo: Getty Images

Inmate-doctor Gisela Perl was a Romanian physician, a gynaecologist, and a Jew who spent two years in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen as a member of the camp hospital staff. In her book I WAS A DOCTOR IN AUSCHWITZ, the first edition published in 1948, she describes the life at Auschwitz and hospital “treatments” of unspeakable brutality.

This is Gisela Perl’s horrifying account of an incident when Josef Mengele caught a woman on her sixth attempt to escape from a truck transporting victims to the gas chamber:

“He grabbed her by the neck and proceeded to beat her head to a bloody pulp. He hit her, slapped her, boxed her, always her head – screaming at the top of his voice, ‘You want to escape, don’t you. You can’t escape now. You are going to burn like the others, you are going to croak, you dirty Jew.’

As I watched, I saw her two beautiful, intelligent eyes disappear under a layer of blood. And in a few seconds, her straight, pointed nose was a flat, broken, bleeding mass.  Half an  hour later, Dr. Mengele returned to the hospital. He took a piece of perfumed soap out of his bag and, whistling gaily with a smile of deep satisfaction on his face, he began to wash his hands …”

One of his tasks in the camp was overseeing the use of the gas chambers. He would operate with extreme prejudice and would not hesitate to send those who were sick to the chambers. The specimens who would arrive that he had no interest in would not fare well, he would usually just send them straight to the gas chambers with a silent flick of his hands, if he flicked to the left, a prisoner would die, if to the right, they would be allowed to live.

His demeanour earned him the nickname, Angel of Death. He was always calm. To the Romani camp, he established a school that would be full of children under the age of six. This school was a place of horror, but the children often did not realise it. Calling himself Uncle Mengele, he would enter the school, talk to the children, give them candy, and if interested in their genetic traits, he would inject them directly in the heart with chloroform to see what would happen.

The man lived the perfect life for a mad scientist. There was no oversight, no-one to tell him to stop. Everyone around him always looked the other way. He could do whatever he wanted and he did.

Through it all, Mengele’s research continued. In the pointless effort to prove crackpot Nazi race theories, Mengele stitched pairs of twins together at the back, gouged out the eyes of people with different-colored irises, and vivisected children who knew him as kindly old “Uncle Papi.” When a form of gangrene called noma broke out in the Gypsy camp, Mengele’s absurd focus on race led him to investigate the genetic causes he was sure were behind the epidemic. To study this, he sawed off the heads of infected prisoners and sent the preserved samples to Germany for study.

At 19, in March 1943, Ernest Michel arrived in Auschwitz after five days and four nights in cattle cars. He was born in Mannheim, Germany, in 1923 to a Jewish family which had been living in Germany for over 300 years. He was arrested on September 3, 1939, three days after the outbreak of World War II, and spent the next five-and-one-half years in slave labour and concentration camps.

Ernest Michel, Auschwitz number 104995, worked as an orderly in the Auschwitz infirmary and later recalled Mengele:

“One day in the summer of 1944 we took eight women, mostly young and all healthy, into the room where the experiments would take place. I saw Mengele standing there in his uniform, surrounded by three or four others. As we brought in each girl, an officer would strap her down. After a while the screaming inside stopped. When we took them out two of the eight were dead, five were in a coma, one was still strapped to the cot. Mengele was standing there, discussing it very casually. The only word I could hear was ‘experiment’.”

Ernest Michel’s parents, grandmother, uncles, aunts, cousins were all murdered by the Nazis, gassed in Auschwitz. He survived and arrived in the United States in 1946. He was active in the survivor community for many years and served as Chairman of the World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors in Israel in 1981.

Everything that he did was for the purpose of advancing medical science. Perhaps that is why he was able to do such horrible things such as have a nice chat with a little boy in one afternoon and then send him to the gas chambers without hesitation the next morning.

Mengele continued his horrible experiments and crimes against humanity for two years at Auschwitz. Fortunately, the one thing that stopped the madness was the advancement of the Red Army. Hitler had made a tactical mistake when he had provoked the Russians and now they were pushing hard toward the camp. A group of medical officers decided to flee from Auschwitz before it was liberated by the Reds.

After the glut of Hungarian prisoners were mostly killed off during the summer of 1944, the transports of new prisoners slowed down and eventually stopped. Operations at the camp were wound down through the fall and into the winter.

In January 1945, the camp complex at Auschwitz was mostly dismantled and the starving prisoners force-marched to – of all places – Dresden (which was about to be bombed mercilessly by the Allies). Dr Josef Mengele packed up his research notes and specimens, dropped them off with a trusted friend, and headed west to avoid capture by the Red Army.

In early 1945, Mengele fled Auschwitz as the Soviet Army advanced from the east. The camp was liberated on 27 January and among approximately 7,600 prisoners still alive in Auschwitz were several hundred children, whose survival was due entirely to the fact that they had been guinea pigs in the twisted experiments of Mengele and the other doctors.

Of course, at this point, things weren’t looking good for the Nazis. The war front was crumbling on all sides and as a result, Mengele went into hiding in Germany.

His attempts, however, didn’t work out as he had hoped and he was quickly captured by the American investigation forces that were busy trying to root out Nazi’s who were in disguise. Mengele’s entire unit was held by the American forces, but somehow Joseph caught a break.

His US captors failed to realise that he had been part of the SS and was a wanted man. He was mistakenly released and subsequently worked on a farm in Bavaria, maintaining a low profile.

With the sheer amount of chaos surrounding the end of the war, the Americans who were holding him didn’t have any information that pointed him out as being on the most wanted lists. Coupled with the fact that he didn’t have any major identification linking him to any war crimes, they were forced to let him go.

Joseph was quick to forge false papers and live life on the lam, working as a farm hand and disguising himself so that no one would know who he was. He worked meticulously to try and retrieve his records, but in the end, was forced to flee Germany once and for all. As he was on the move, testament of his atrocities was made public by one of his old assistants, a Jewish man whom he had forced to do his bidding. This testimony would make Mengele famous as a monster and a worldwide bounty was issued for anything leading to his arrest.

It would be wonderful to say that his story ended with justice. It would be pleasing to say that this horrible man, who was willing to commit great terrors in the interest of science, was caught, and brought to justice, but the unfortunate truth is, he was never captured. He moved to Argentina, where he hid in plain sight until the Argentina government became aware of his existence and was pressured to hand him over to the international courts. Yet, he fled to Paraguay instead of risking extradition.

Josef Mengele (centre, at the edge of the table), with friends in the 1970s.

In 1959, Mengele travelled to Paraguay to treat the former Secretary to the Fuhrer, Martin Bormann, who had been sentenced to death in absentia at Nuremberg and who was now dying of stomach cancer. In 1956, the West German government issued identity papers for Mengele under his own name and allowed his family to leave the country unobserved to visit him in South America. Even in exile, and with the world to lose if he got caught, Mengele couldn’t behave himself. In the 1950s, he opened an unlicensed medical practice in Buenos Aires, where he specialised in performing illegal abortions.

This actually got him arrested when one of his patients died, but according to one witness, a friend of his showed up in court with a bulging envelope full of cash for the judge, who dismissed the case. Despite the best efforts of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency that spent a great deal of time searching for Nazis who had escaped justice, they were unable to capture him. Mengele lived out the rest of his life in Brazil.

Finally, one day in 1979, the 68-year-old Dr Josef Mengele went out for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean. He suffered a sudden stroke in the water and drowned. After his death, friends and family gradually admitted that they had known all along where he had been hiding and that they had sheltered him from justice all his life.

In March 2016, a Brazilian court awarded control over Mengele’s exhumed remains to the University of São Paulo. According to a statement from the doctor in the case, the remains will be used by student doctors for medical research.

Perhaps one curious rumour still exists about Mengele. Not that he is still alive, of course, because that is undisputed at this point in his life. The rumour points to a village in Brazil that held a large concentration of twins. Some would point to this as evidence that Mengele might have had something to do with that, but it will be impossible to know if he was still involved with human experimentation at all when he was in hiding near the end of his life.

So, what is the legacy of Joseph Mengele? Truthfully, for all of the great crimes that he perpetrated against mankind, for the horrible things that he would do to people who had done nothing except committing the crime of existing, he never truly led to any advancements of scientific knowledge. The world remembers his name only as something of horror. He never repented of his actions either, for he believed that what he was doing had been his duty. Yes, this man had somehow managed to convince himself that the brutal murder of infants, elderly, and children were his moral obligation and duty.

What can be learned from Joseph’s life? Just that mankind can commit the greatest evils, evils beyond all imagination when they throw morality out of the window. When a man ceases to believe that his fellow man is also human, there is no limit to the horrors that he can commit against him. Mengele was allowed to thrive because of hate.

Evil Josef Mengele spent the rest of his life on the run after the Second World War but, while holed up in South America, he kept a chilling secret diary.

Today it seems that Nazi war criminals escaped to Argentina using false identities supplied by the Red Cross, the humanitarian organisation has admitted …  

The International Committee of the Red Cross has said it unwittingly provided travel papers to at least 10 top Nazis, including Adolf Eichmann, Klaus Barbie, Erich Priebke and Josef Mengele … A statement issued by the ICRC, from its Geneva headquarters, said they were among thousands of people found in refugee camps who were given Red Cross travel documents.

Adolf Eichmann was taken to Israel where he was tried as a war criminal. On May 31, 1962, the State of Israel carried out the only death sentence in its history on the man whose defence was, “I was just following orders.”

Klaus Barbie, a Gestapo leader in Lyon, France, was convicted of crimes against humanity in 1987.

SS captain Erich Priebke also obtained Red Cross travel documents. He was convicted in 1997 for his role in the 1944 massacre of 335 civilians at the Ardeatine Caves outside Rome and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mengele gave an Italian residency document with a false name and permission to enter Argentina. He received his passport in 1949. So Mengele fled to South America but moved from country to country afraid of being caught. There were many warrants, rewards, and bounties offered, but he was lucky.

Despite international efforts to track him down, he was never apprehended and lived for 35 years hiding under various aliases. He lived in Paraguay and Brazil until his death in 1979. One afternoon, living in Brazil, he went for a swim. While in the ocean he suffered a massive stroke and began to drown. By the time he was dragged to shore, he was dead.

People didn’t find out about Mengele’s death until the mid-1980’s when Nazi hunters, using newly discovered information, uncovered his grave marked “Wolfgang Gerhard” at Embu. It was then that his family admitted they had shielded him all those years and they turned over his diaries and letters to investigators.

But the possibility of a hoax kept the case open for several years. It was not until 1992, after coaxing DNA from a bone, and matching it to DNA in blood samples taken from Mengele’s son and wife that the official conclusion is announced: “The remains are those of Josef Mengele”.

The mystery of Josef Mengele, the evil symbol of the Nazi’s, was solved. While holed up in South America, he kept a chilling secret diary. Some 3,300 pages of his handwritten notes, poems and hard backed journals offer a glimpse into one of the most terrifyingly twisted minds of the 20th century. His brutal work for Adolf Hitler resulted in the death of millions of Jews, including 1.5 million children, in the quest for an Aryan “super race”.

And his diaries show how his views had changed little on the run.

He writes: “Mixing Italians, Austrians and Slavs into one race proves ignorance.”

Mengele – who fled to Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil – commented on how South Americans used lipstick and make-up and indulged in sexual promiscuity. He said it has led to a “dreadful mixing of the races with the northern Europeans – when you start mixing the races, there is a decline in civilisation”. Mengele acknowledged that the Nazi experiment on race had failed but drastic measures still had to be taken to combat what he perceived as the planet’s “overpopulation”.

“Humans must make a decision on how to survive in modern times,” he warned. “Eugenics has not succeeded in the short-run. Must find a solution. “If overpopulation continues, the intelligent beings will die out.” And he added: “It is absolutely necessary that the German people forget their past or there is no going forward.” While his diaries show how Mengele found plenty of time to pontificate on life, there is no mention of his stomach-churning experiments.

Out of the thousands of twins experimented on by Mengele, only around 200 survived the horror. Notes of his operations were destroyed but it is thought that at least 3,000 twins were subjected to his experiments and thousands more killed. A spokesman for Alexander Historic Auctions, which sold the diaries in Connecticut, said: “This archive, the vast majority of which has never been published or perhaps even viewed, offers an in-depth view into the cruellest mind of the 20th century. These are intensely personal writings of a desperate man, not penned over a single evening but over 15 years as he fled his pursuers.

“They illustrate a remorseless, angry, narcissistic, vain, pseudo-intellectual murderer seeking to leave his mark on the world. In these writings, Mengele describes himself – it is our hope these writings will also describe Mengele.”

The twins Eva and Miriam Mozes survived Auschwitz

Josef Mengele, Angel of Death

Josef Mengele and the medical experiments

Josef Mengele’s Nazi Experiments – Stories And Photos

Josef Mengele – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Medical Experiments of the Holocaust and Nazi Medicine |

Mengele’s Children – The Twins of Auschwitz – ThoughtCo

The twins of Auschwitz – BBC News – BBC.com

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Auschwitz Survivors Recall Horror Of Nazi Experiments – tribunedigital …

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Twins and Angel of Death – Imaging Genocide

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Josef Mengele – History Learning Site

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Nazi doctor Josef Mengele’s gruesome experiments found in Munich …

Josef Mengele | History TV

Dr Josef Mengele: The Angel of Death – a summary – History In An Hour


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