Mengele’s Horrific Stint As Auschwitz’s ‘Angel of Death’
— After receiving an Iron Cross for his bravery in battle during World War II, Mengele was sent to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland on May of 1943. It was here that he earned the nickname “Angel of Death” for his cold, dispassionate demeanor in picking out victims for his brutal experiments.
— He was originally placed in charge of the Romani people at the camp, AKA “Gypsies.” Nazis considered them to be an inferior race like Jews. His duties eventually expanded to where he was permitted to experiment on all inmates at the camp who hadn’t been marked for the gas chambers.
— The “selection” process at Auschwitz involved observing new arrivals at the camp. Those who were deemed unfit to perform hard labor were sent to the gas chambers. All others became camp inmates and were treated as slaves. Whereas most doctors at the camp seemed to find the selection process to be depressing, Mengele was known for showing up all the time, even when it wasn’t his shift, and taking great delight in deciding who lived and died.
— In one case while standing on the selection line, a woman who was about to be separated from her child bit a Nazi officer. Mengele responded by shooting the woman and child to death, then ordering that everyone in the line be sent to the gas chambers.
— Mengele had a keen interest in twins due to the fact that he could use one as a test body and the other as a control while performing his grisly experiments on them. It is estimated that during his year and a half at Auschwitz, he experimented on 3,000 twins—only 200 of whom survived.
— Bizarrely, Mengele’s demeanor toward the children was often described as sweet and caring. He introduced himself as “Uncle Mengele” and often came bearing sweets.
— Mengele had a special fascination with heterochromia iridum, a condition in which people have eyes of two different colors. He conducted numerous tests where he attempted to change people’s eye colors by injecting chemicals into the eyeballs of living subjects. If it didn’t work, he’d simply rip out the victim’s eyeballs and send them on to Berlin for further testing.
— His brutally cruel experiments are without parallel in human history. He placed victims in pressure chambers, injected them with drugs and lethal bacteria, castrated them, froze them to death, performed surgery on them without anesthesia, gave them sex changes, and amputated their limbs. And the majority of his victims were children.
— A witness named Vera Alexander recalls how Mengele sewed two Romani twins together back to back in an attempt to make them into conjoined twins. Their hands became badly infected and they died of gangrene after suffering for days.
— In one instance, he took a pair of male twins and kept placing them in a vat filled with extremely hot water. Then they were strapped to a table and had every hair on their bodies systematically plucked out at the root. Then they received painful enemas and had their rectums hyper-descended. All of this was performed with zero anesthesia and had the victims howling in pain.
— In another case, he kept two female twins in tiny wooden cages and kept injecting them in the back with painful substances.
— Over the course of one night, he rounded up 14 pairs of Romani twins, injected chloroform into their hearts (which instantly killed them all), and then spent the night dissecting their bodies and taking notes.
Mengele’s Early Life: Birth Of A Monster
— Josef Mengele was born to a wealthy family and despite his later atrocities, he was a handsome, genial, and popular person.As a boy, his obsessions were music, the arts, and skiing.
— He received Ph.D.s in anthropology and medicine.
— Prior to joining the Nazi Party, he published three scholarly works in medical journals: Racial-Morphological Examinations of the Anterior Portion of the Lower Jaw in Four Racial Groups, Genealogical Studies in the Cases of Cleft Lip-Jaw-Palate, and Hereditary Transmission of Fistulae Auris.
Life In Exile: Mengele Evades Justice, Flees To South America
— As Soviet forces were swarming into Germany, Mengele escaped Auschwitz by dressing as a normal German infantryman.
— Americans captured him and held him as a POW. Even though he was listed under his real name at the time, his captors did not make the connection and released him shortly thereafter.
— He worked as a farmhand in Bavaria before heading for Argentina in 1949.
— He lived in hiding for 35 years under aliases, ultimately moving from Argentina to Paraguay and Brazil when the Nazi hunters were hot on his trail.
— While evading capture, several conspiracy theories spread about Mengele. One postulated that he was the real Zodiac Killer. Another said he had joined the US government to work on the CIA’s MK-ULTRA brainwashing program. Another said that he founded a village in Brazil where he continued to experiment on twins.
— In 1979, while Nazi hunters were combing the globe looking to arrest him, Mengele drowned after suffering a stroke while swimming of Brazil’s coast. He was buried under the name of a friend, Wolfgang Gerhard.
— In 1985 his remains were exhumed, and a DNA test confirmed that “Wolfgang Gerhard” was indeed Josef Mengele.
— His skeleton is kept at the São Paulo Institute for Forensic Medicine and is sometimes used as an educational aid during medical courses.
— After his death, a buyer purchased his post-Holocaust journals for nearly a quarter-million dollars. He remained impenitent for his deeds during World War II and continued to see history through a racial lens, as evidenced in this passage Mengele wrote in his journal: “Mixing Italians, Austrians and Slavs into one race proves ignorance…[there is a] dreadful mixing of the races with the northern Europeans—when you start mixing the races, there is a decline in civilization.”
Mengele’s Victims Recall Their Personal Horror Stories
“When the doors to our cattle car opened, I heard SS soldiers yelling, ‘Schnell! Schnell!’ and ordering everybody out. My mother grabbed Miriam and me by the hand. She was always trying to protect us because we were the youngest. Everything was moving very fast, and as I looked around, I noticed my father and my two older sisters were gone. As I clutched my mother’s hand, an SS man hurried by shouting, ‘Twins! Twins!’ He stopped to look at us. Miriam and I looked very much alike. ‘Are they twins?’ he asked my mother. ‘Is that good?’ she replied. He nodded yes. ‘They are twins,’ she said. Once the SS guard knew we were twins, Miriam and I were taken away from our mother, without any warning or explanation. Our screams fell on deaf ears. I remember looking back and seeing my mother’s arms stretched out in despair as we were led away by a soldier. That was the last time I saw her…. I was given five injections. That evening I developed extremely high fever. I was trembling. My arms and my legs were swollen, huge size. Mengele and Dr. Konig and three other doctors came in the next morning. They looked at my fever chart, and Dr. Mengele said, laughingly, ‘Too bad, she is so young. She has only two weeks to live…’” —Eva Mozes Kor
“I was looking at a whole wall of human eyes. A wall of blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes. These eyes they were staring at me like a collection of butterflies and I fell down on the floor.” —Vera Kriegel
“One day we were given eye drops. Afterwards we could not see for several days. We were very frightened of the experiements. They took a lot of blood….We fainted several times.” —Leah Stern
“I have never accepted that Mengele believed he was doing serious medical work.…He was exercising power. Major surgery was performed without anesthetic. Once I witnessed a stomach operation — Mengele was removing pieces from the stomach, but without any anesthesia. It was horrifying.” —Survivor Alex Dekel
“Dr. Mengele had always been more interested in [my twin brother] 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….” —Twin who survived Auschwitz
“He was capable of being so kind to the children, to have them become fond of him, to bring them sugar, to think of small details in their daily lives, and to do things we would genuinely admire … And then, next to that, … the crematoria smoke, and these children, tomorrow or in a half-hour, he is going to send them there. Well, that is where the anomaly lay.” — Unidentified former Auschwitz inmate doctor
“Three times a week we were marched to Auschwitz to a big brick building, sort of like a big gymnasium. They would keep us there for about six or eight hours at a time—most of the days….We would have to sit naked in the large room where we first entered, and people in white jackets would observe us and write down notes. They also would study every part of our bodies. They would photograph, measure our heads and arms and bodies, and compare the measurements of one twin to another. The process seemed to go on and on.”