Dr. Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor who performed medical experiments at the Auschwitz death camps, dies of a stroke while swimming in Brazil—although his death was not verified until 1985.
When war erupted, Mengele was a medical officer with the SS, the elite squad of Hitler’s bodyguards who later emerged as a secret police force that waged campaigns of terror in the name of Nazism. In 1943, Mengele was called to a position that would earn him his well-deserved infamy. SS head Heinrich Himmler appointed Mengele the chief doctor of the Auschwitz death camps in Poland.
READ MORE: The Shocking Liberation of Auschwitz
Mengele, in distinctive white gloves, supervised the selection of Auschwitz’ incoming prisoners for either torturous labor or immediate extermination, shouting either “Right!” or “Left!” to direct them to their fate. Eager to advance his medical career by publishing “groundbreaking” work, he then began experimenting on live Jewish prisoners. In the guise of medical “treatment,” Mengele injected, or ordered others to inject, thousands of inmates with everything from petrol to chloroform to study the chemicals’ effects. Among other atrocities, he plucked out the eyes of Gypsy corpses to study eye pigmentation, and conducted numerous gruesome studies of twins.
Mengele managed to escape imprisonment after the war, first by working as a farm stableman in Bavaria, then by moving to South America. He became a citizen of Paraguay in 1959. He later moved to Brazil, where he met up with another former Nazi party member, Wolfgang Gerhard. In 1985, a multinational team of forensic experts traveled to Brazil in search of Mengele. They determined that a man named Gerhard had died of a stroke while swimming in 1979. Dental records later revealed that Mengele had, at some point, assumed Gerhard’s identity and was the stroke victim.
A fictional account of Josef Mengele’s life after the war was depicted in the film Boys from Brazil, with Mengele portrayed by Gregory Peck.
READ MORE: Auschwitz gets a new doctor: “the Angel of Death”
Josef Mengele- The Angel of Death
In his laboratory at Auschwitz, Dr. Josef Mengele, also known as the Angel of Death by the inmates, conducted the most inhuman experiments. He was given carte blanche, and the Nazi doctor had no scruples in exercising that right. Everything he did was dedicated to the pursuit of the ultimate Aryan race.
Mengele was born on March 16, 1911, in the town of Günzburg in Germany. He was the oldest of three boys and came from an affluent background. He was a good student with a keen interest in classical music from a young age.
The young Mengele floated through life, achieving milestone after milestone with seemingly very little effort.
By the year 1935, Josef Mengele had earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Munich. However, it was in Frankfurt working for Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, a German geneticist, that he developed his passion for the study of twins.
Three years later, the soon-to-be Nazi doctor of death earned a cum laude doctorate from the University of Frankfurt. After the war, both universities revoked his degrees.
Shortly after joining the Nazi Party in 1937, Josef Mengele married Irene Schönbein with whom he had one son, Rolf, who was born in 1944.
It was at this juncture, when the Nazi Party was almost at its zenith in power and popularity, that Mengele began to fully appreciate the base doctrines espoused at the party rallies.
Hitler, Goebbels, and Himmler had started to speak more vocally about racial hygiene, anti-Semitism, and eugenics. The Nazi leaders wanted to create the ultimate Aryan race that would rule the world from Berlin, or Germania, as they wanted the capital to be known.
In 1941, Mengele, like so many young Germans, followed Hitler’s outstretched arm as it pointed toward the east and Russia. It was in the Ukraine where Mengele, as a medical officer, gained some fame for his bravery in the face of enemy fire.
Richard Baer, Josef Mengele and Rudolf Höss at Auschwitz, 1944.
He was awarded the Iron Cross First Class for saving two comrades from a burning tank. In addition, he received the Wound Badge in Black and was sent home because of his severe injuries.
No longer fit for frontline duties, Josef Mengele applied for a transfer to the Auschwitz concentration camp. In early 1943, his application was accepted.
Within a few weeks of his arrival at Auschwitz, the doctor got to work. He cleaned out the sick of the hospital barracks and promptly sent the prisoners to the gas chambers. He didn’t give a second’s thought for their well being or make any attempt to cure them like his doctor’s oath required.
He was soon promoted to First Physician of the Birkenau sub-camp for clearing out an epidemic of typhus among female prisoners. He did not heal a single person. Instead, 600 Jewish women were sent to the gas chambers.
Jewish twins kept alive in Auschwitz for use in Mengele’s medical experiments. The Red Army liberated these children in January 1945.
Auschwitz survivors remember Mengele standing on the ramp selecting prisoners for his experiments. He would often whistle opera tunes as he nonchalantly picked men, women, and children. The Angel of Death ultimately decided who went to forced labor and who died.
He sent tens of thousands to the gas chambers. The human geneticist then conducted callous experiments on the remaining concentration camp prisoners, including amputations without anesthesia, sterilizations, and injections of chemical substances into the heart. He frequently killed his victims only to dissect their bodies later.
Twins were often the subjects of his tests. Most of the time, Mengele injected poison, bacteria, or other pathogens into a twin. He and his assistants would then document the course of the disease precisely. The experimental patient often survived only a few days.
As soon as the first subject died, Mengele and his helpers then gave the other twin the same injection into the heart to enable them to perform a comparative autopsy on both bodies.
About 1,400 pairs of twins are said to have been killed in these barbaric medical attempts. The Auschwitz survivor Marta Wise, then a young girl, described one of her encounters with Mengele:
Auschwitz: Bundesarchiv B 285 Bild-04413,
“We got injections, sometimes from the nurses, sometimes from Mengele in person. My sister got sick, then they told us we were leaving for Germany the next day, so I did not want to leave my sister in the infirmary. So I went to her. That was when Mengele caught me. He smiled at me and gave me two slaps. He was always cruel when he smiled, but he quickly let me go because he knew we were going on a death march very soon.”
Pavilion 10 where Josef Mengele experimented.
The girl from former Czechoslovakia, now in her eighties, continued to explain, “When he smiled you knew it meant danger because when he was smiling that was when he was at his most sadistic.”
However, Mengele was fastidious and sometimes even compassionate when he worked. In fact, a former Auschwitz inmate doctor said, “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.”
His research became an obsession without any care for human suffering or life. He had a mission to create the perfect Aryan. He even resorted to injecting the eyeballs of living people with dye.
“Selection” of Hungarian Jews on the ramp at Birkenau, May June 1944
Pregnant women did not escape his loathsome scrutiny. They were like chattel, and once they had served their purpose, they were sent to the gas chambers.
So it continued until he was forced west by the advancing Soviet army.
After the war, Mengele was interned by the Americans but was able to pass himself off as a simple prisoner of war. He used fake names like Fritz Ullman and, to his great good fortune, he did not bear the standard SS tattoo.
He managed to spend years wandering Europe unrecognized, even returning to Soviet-occupied territory to recover some Auschwitz documents. He worked for months as a farmhand in Upper Bavaria.
Even when his name was mentioned in the several Nazi lawsuits that took place at the time, the Allies never thought to look for him because they considered him dead.
An old woman with children on the way to the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau (May 1944) – Recording from the “Auschwitz Album”
Mengele finally realized that he had to leave Europe because he knew that if he were ever captured that he would end up on the gallows like many of his Nazi comrades. So, in May 1949, he used the pseudonym Helmut Gregor to leave via the “rat lines” to Italy and travel, ultimately, to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Once he got there, Mengele lived as a businessman. The German embassy in Argentina did nothing about it. When he divorced his first wife, they even issued the necessary certificate under his real name.
For ten years, the man, who was responsible for the agonizing death of hundreds of people, even managed to travel back to Europe using his real name to visit his son.
When he returned, his sister-in-law and her son soon followed. He was married for the second time and enjoyed the bliss of family life, something that was denied to so many of his patients.
Italian Passport used by Mengele to flee justice and escape to Argentina in 1949.Photo: Jackdawson1970 CC BY-SA 3.0
But his blissful idyll was coming to an end. A German warrant for his arrest was issued in 1959. Then, a year later, Adolf Eichmann was arrested in Argentina. Eichmann’s capture scared Mengele who realized that he would no longer be safe in Argentina.
Around the year 1963, he allegedly decamped to Paraguay where there was a large German community. It was there that the next stage in his medical career would commence.
“Nazi angel of death Josef Mengele created twin town in Brazil” was the headline in the British newspaper The Telegraph in January 2009.
Doctors and scientists were in a state of complete bafflement for years because of the enormous number of twins born in the Brazilian town of Candido Godoi. Furthermore, most of the twins had blond hair and blue eyes.
Josef Mengele (1911-1979), German SS officer. Photo taken by a police photographer in 1956 in Buenos Aires for Mengele’s Argentine identification document Anonymous photographer, not identified anywhere
The mystery gradually started to make sense. The residents of Candido Godoi spoke of a German man who came to the village regularly during the 1960s. At first, he pretended to be a veterinarian, but later the urbane German went on to treat the women for all manner of ailments.
“There is testimony that he attended women, followed their pregnancies, treated them with new types of drugs and preparations, that he talked of artificial insemination in human beings, and that he continued working with animals, proclaiming that he was capable of getting cows to produce male twins,” claims Jorge Camarasa, author of the book Mengele: The Angel of Death in South America.
If statistics are anything to go by, one in 80 pregnancies result in twins. However, in Candido Godoi, one in 50 births resulted in twins after the arrival of the Angel of Death. These numbers suggest that Josef Mengele must have had some success with his sordid medical dream of creating a master Aryan race.
Could it really be that the 1970s thriller The Boys from Brazil has some truth? Did the German doctor achieve his lifelong dream?
Werner Goldberg, who was part Jewish but blond and blue-eyed, was used in Nazi recruitment posters as “The Ideal German Soldier.”
We can never be sure. But Jorge Camarasa is pretty convinced that the Nazi doctor turned Candido Godoi into his own personal laboratory.
In the end, the sea got Mengele, a man whom neither the Allied soldiers nor the Israeli secret service or German prosecutors could capture.
Josef Mengele, the camp doctor who whistled opera arias at the ramp of Auschwitz, died in a regular swimming accident off the coast of Brazil. He had been hiding successfully in South America for half his life.
Meanwhile, sightings of Josef Mengele continued. To the world, he was still alive for many years after his death. Furthermore, interest in his whereabouts hit epic proportions after mock trials were held in Jerusalem in 1985 where many of his victims gave testimonies about his barbarism.
Block 10 – Medical experimentation block in Auschwitz I.Photo: VbCrLf CC BY-SA 4.0
In 1985, Wolfram Bossert, the friend Mengele had visited when he died in the ocean, was discovered. He showed the authorities the whereabouts of his grave. The remains were exhumed, and it was concluded that the body in all likelihood belonged to Josef Mengele.
However, it was not until 1995, after DNA testing, that the world would truly knew that the Angel of Death had indeed found his demise in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Reaper claims the angel of death
Born in 1911, Josef Mengele was the son of business owner and future mayor Karl Mengele, who manufactured farming machinery and avidly supported the Nazi Party, via Deutsche Welle. In 1932, Karl offered to host a campaign event for Hitler at his factory and joined the Nazi Party the following year. Josef joined the party in 1937, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He would later join the SS as a medic on the Eastern Front during WWII, but a wound forced him to return to the home front.
A medical geneticist by training, Mengele went to work at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Genetics, and Eugenics and ascended to the ranks of SS captain after returning to Germany in 1943. Later that year, he was reassigned to Auschwitz, where he tormented, traumatized, and murdered captive Jews. In 1945, the advancing Soviet Army prompted Mengele to flee Auschwitz. U.S. forces briefly detained the angel of death but failed to identify him as a wanted war criminal. So they let him leave.
The doctor assumed a false identity and worked as a farmhand in Germany for about four years before absconding to Argentina. Mengele remained on the run, relocating to Paraguay and Brazil. In 1979 he suffered a stroke while swimming near a Brazilian vacation resort and drowned.
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Josef Mengele, byname Todesengel (German: “Angel of Death”), (born March 16, 1911, Günzburg, Germany—died February 7, 1979, Enseada da Bertioga, near São Paulo, Brazil), Nazi doctor at Auschwitz extermination camp (1943–45) who selected prisoners for execution in the gas chambers and conducted medical experiments on inmates in pseudoscientific racial studies.
Mengele’s father was founder of a company that produced farm machinery, Firma Karl Mengele & Söhne, in the village of Günzburg in Bavaria. Mengele studied philosophy in Munich in the 1920s, coming under the influence of the racial ideology of Alfred Rosenberg, and then took a medical degree at the University of Frankfurt am Main. He enlisted in the Sturmabteilung (SA “Assault Division”) in 1933. An ardent Nazi, he joined the research staff of a newly founded Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in 1934. During World War II he served as a medical officer with the Waffen-SS (the “armed” component of the Nazi paramilitary corps) in France and Russia. In 1943 he was appointed by Heinrich Himmler to be chief doctor at Birkenau, the supplementary extermination camp at Auschwitz, where he and his staff selected incoming Jews for labour or extermination and where he supervised medical experiments on inmates to discover means of increasing fertility (to increase the German “race”). His chief interest, however, was research on twins. Mengele’s experiments often resulted in the death of the subject.
After the war, Mengele escaped internment and went underground, serving for four years as a farm stableman near Rosenheim in Bavaria. Then he reportedly escaped, via Genoa, Italy, to South America in 1949. He married (for a second time) under his own name in Uruguay in 1958 and, as “José Mengele,” received citizenship in Paraguay in 1959. In 1961 he apparently moved to Brazil, reportedly becoming friends with an old-time Nazi, Wolfgang Gerhard, and living in a succession of houses owned by a Hungarian couple. In 1985 a team of Brazilian, West German, and American forensic experts determined that Mengele had taken Gerhard’s identity, died in 1979 of a stroke while swimming, and was buried under Gerhard’s name. Dental records later confirmed the forensic conclusion.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.
Mengele was decorated in combat on the Eastern Front
Although Mengele had attended meetings of various fringe groups since 1931, he did not formally join the Nazi Party until 1937. By then it had already achieved power in the German government. His position as a physician and noted researcher allowed him to join the prestigious SS, and he trained for military service with the Mountain Infantry.
He quickly volunteered to join the Waffen SS (a military unit which operated with the Wehrmacht but was loyal to Himmler) in a medical capacity, and by 1941 was serving in the Ukraine, where Nazi persecution and elimination of Jews and Slavs was already well underway. One of his duties was the determination of who may be eligible for Germanization (essentially someone of Aryan blood without the good fortune to reside in Germany proper) and who was to be eliminated.
After being wounded and decorated while in service with an SS Armored Division Mengele was deemed no longer fit for active service. He retained his SS rank and briefly returned to academia before volunteering for service in the burgeoning concentration camps in Poland and the Eastern USSR. Mengele cited the opportunity to study prisoners as research subjects as part of his application process, and he was accepted. Mengele was assigned to the Romani Family Camp, a separate section of the Birkenau concentration camp, itself part of the large complex in Poland known as Auschwitz.
Part of Mengele&rsquos duties included the screening of prisoners arriving by train at Auschwitz, about three-quarters of whom were sent to the gas chambers immediately with the rest consigned to slave labor until they were too weak to work.
Thence they were gassed. Mengele frequently arrived to perform screenings when he was not scheduled, taking particular interest in locating twins, especially children, whom he would assign to the hospital for his own research studies. Fellow camp staff reported that Mengele showed an enthusiasm for the work, appearing in high spirits, often whistling, as he sent so many to their immediate deaths. Most screeners detested the duty and were sufficiently surprised by Mengele&rsquos enthusiasm to make note of it.
He Was Not in Charge of Auschwitz
One common misconception of Mengele is that he was in charge of the Auschwitz death camp. This is not the case. He was actually one of several SS doctors assigned there. He had a great deal of autonomy there, however, because he was working under a sort of grant given to him by the government to study genetics and diseases. His status as a war hero and prestigious academic also gave him a stature not shared by the other doctors. When it was all put together, Mengele had a great deal of freedom to conduct his ghoulish experiments as he saw fit.
Richard Baer, known as the last Commandant of Auschwitz, was the commander of the main camp his adjutant was Karl Hoecker.
Dr. Josef Mengele was one of 30 SS officers at Auschwitz II, aka Birkenau, who decided who would live and who would die in the gas chambers.
Dr. Josef Mengele arrived at Birkenau in early May 1943, just at the time that the second typhus epidemic at Birkenau was starting. Mengele himself contracted typhus while he was at Birkenau.
Dr. Mengele was nicknamed the “Angel of Death” by the prisoners because he had the face of an angel, yet he callously made selections for the gas chambers at Birkenau. He was nice to the children in the camp, yet he experimented on them as though they were laboratory rats. He volunteered to do the selections at Birkenau, even when it wasn’t his turn, because he wanted to find subjects for his medical research on genetic conditions and hereditary diseases, which he had already begun before the war. He particularly wanted to find twins for the research that he had started before he was posted to Birkenau.
Dr. Mengele was known by all the prisoners because of his good looks and charm. According to Gerald L. Posner and John Ware, the authors of “Mengele, the Complete Story,” many of the children in the Birkenau camp “adored Mengele” and called him “Uncle Pepi.” This information came from Vera Alexander, a survivor of Birkenau, who said that Dr. Mengele brought chocolate and the most beautiful clothes for the children, including hair ribbons for the little girls.
Child survivors at Birkenau death camp
According to Eva Mozes Kor, one of the twins who survived Mengele’s experiments, the children in the camp did not wear striped uniforms. It appears that the child survivors in the photo above have been provided with adult uniforms for a propaganda film that was made by the Soviet liberators in February 1945.
Dr. Mengele had a Ph.D. in Anthropology as well as a degree in medicine, which he received in July 1938 from the University of Frankfurt. He earned his Ph.D. in 1935 with a thesis on “Racial Morphological Research on the Lower Jaw Section of Four Racial Groups.” In January 1937, Dr. Mengele was appointed a research assistant at the Institute for Heredity, Biology and Racial Purity at the University of Frankfurt. He worked under Professor Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, a geneticist who was doing research on twins.
As the war-time director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Hereditary Teaching Genetics, located in Berlin, von Verschuer secured the funds for Mengele’s experiments at Auschwitz. The results of Mengele’s research on twins was sent to this Institute. The grant for Mengele’s genetic research was authorized by the German Research Council in August 1943.
Olga Lengyel, a prisoner at the Birkenau camp, wrote in her book entitled “Five Chimneys” that she had heard about Dr. Mengele from the other inmates before she saw him. Lengyel wrote that she had heard that Dr. Mengele was “good-looking” but she was surprised by how “really handsome” he was.
Lengyel wrote, regarding Dr. Mengele: “Though he was making decisions that meant extermination, he was as pleasantly smug as any man could be.”
Lengyel described how Dr. Mengele would take all the correct medical precautions while delivering a baby at Auschwitz, yet only a half hour later, he would send the mother and baby to be gassed and burned in the crematorium. Lengyel herself was selected for the gas chamber, but managed to break away from the group of women who had been selected, before the truck arrived to take the prisoners to the crematorium.
The first systematic selection for the gas chambers at Birkenau was made when a transport of Jews arrived at Auschwitz on July 4, 1942. The train stopped a short distance from the Auschwitz train station at a wooden platform called the “Judenrampe,” where the selection process took place. The Jews who were considered fit to work were marched to the Auschwitz main camp, which was close to the Judenrampe. There they were given a shower, their heads were shaved, a number was tattooed on their left forearm, and a registration card was made for them.
Those who were not considered fit for work were taken immediately by truck from the Judenrampe to two make-shift gas chambers at Birkenau, which were located in two converted farm houses called “the little red house” and “the little white house.”
At least 75% of the Jews in each transport of 2,000 to 3,000 prisoners were deemed unfit for work and were destined for the gas chamber. The little red house, also known as Bunker 1, had a capacity of 800 people in two rooms and the little white house, called Bunker 2, had a capacity of 1,200 in four rooms.
All of the incoming prisoners were told that they would first be given a shower the prisoners who were selected for work took a real shower, but the rest were taken by trucks to the two farm houses, where the gas chambers were disguised as shower rooms.
The little white house was located on the west side of the Birkenau camp, behind the Central Sauna which was completed in 1943, and near Krema IV. The Central Sauna got its name because this was the location of the iron chambers where the prisoners’ clothing was disinfected with hot steam. The Central Sauna also contained a shower room with 50 shower heads.
The little red house was located north of where Krema V was built in 1943. Both Krema IV and Krema V had homicidal gas chambers, disguised as shower rooms, where Zyklon-B gas pellets were thrown through the outside windows, killing the unsuspecting victims inside.
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler visited Auschwitz-Birkenau on July 17 and 18, 1942 and watched the gassing of 449 women and children in Bunker No. 1, according to his biographer Peter Padfield. On July 23, 1942, Himmler ordered the quarantine of the Birkenau camp because of a typhus epidemic, but the gassing of the Jews continued.
On December 28, 1942, Himmler issued an order that the death rate “must be reduced at all costs” according to document 2172-PS that was introduced at the Nuremberg IMT. He meant the death rate from typhus the gassing of the Jews did not stop.
Although Dr. Josef Mengele did not join the staff at Birkenau until May 1943, survivors testified during the Allied war crimes trials that he did selections in 1942. Besides the initial selection when the transport trains arrived at Birkenau, there were later selections of the women in the camp. Dr. Mengele was the chief doctor for the women’s barracks, and he would periodically show up to select women for work or the gas chamber. One of the women who survived one of these selections was Sophia Litwinska, a Polish Jewess who was married to an Aryan man.
Sophia Litwinska made a sworn affidavit that was entered into the British trial of the SS staff at Bergen-Belsen in the fall of 1945. Some members of the SS staff at Belsen had previously worked at Birkenau and they were on trial for crimes committed at both Birkenau and Belsen. One of the men who was tried by the British was Franz Hoessler, the commander of the women’s camp at Birkenau in 1942 he was transferred to Bergen-Belsen in December 1944.
In the photo below, Captain Franz Hoessler is standing in front of a load of corpses of prisoners who died from typhus at Bergen-Belsen. He is speaking into a microphone for a documentary film made by the British after the Bergen-Belsen camp was turned over to them by Heinrich Himmler on April 15, 1945. He is wearing his SS uniform, but the insignia of his military rank has been removed. Hoessler was convicted by the British and hanged on December 13, 1945 for war crimes that he had committed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, including his participation in the selection of prisoners to be gassed.
Franz Hoessler in front of a load of corpses at Bergen-Belsen,
April 1945 As quoted in the book “The Belsen Trial,” Sophia Litwinska said the following in her affidavit:
AT AUSCHWITZ, on 24th December, 1942, I was paraded in company with about 19,000 other prisoners, all of them women. Present on parade were Doctors Mengele and Konig and Rapportfuhrer Tauber. I was one of the 3000 prisoners picked out of the 19,000 by the doctors and taken to our huts, where we were stripped naked by other prisoners and our clothes taken away. We were then taken by tipper-type lorries to the gas chamber chute. They were large lorries, about eight in all and about 300 persons on each lorry. On arrival at the gas chamber the lorry tipped up and we slid down the chute through some doors into a large room. The room had showers all around, towels and soap and large numbers of benches. There were also small windows high up near the roof. Many were injured coming down the chute and lay where they fell. Those of us who could sat down on the benches provided and immediately afterwards the doors of the room were closed. My eyes then began to water, I started to coughing and had a pain in my chest and throat. Some of the other people fell down and others coughed and foamed at the mouth. After being in the room for about two minutes the door was opened and an S.S. man came in wearing a respirator. He called my name and then pulled me out of the room and quickly shut the door again. When I got outside I saw S.S man Franz Hoessler, whom I identify as No. 1 on photograph 9. He took me to hospital, where I stayed for about six weeks, receiving special treatment from Dr. Mengele. For the first few days I was at the hospital I found it impossible to eat anything without vomiting. I can only think that I was taken out of the gas chamber because I had an Aryan husband and therefore was in a different category from the other prisoners, who were all Jews. I now suffer from a weak heart and had two attacks since being at Belsen. I do not know the names of any persons who went into the gas chamber with me.
It is not clear which of the four gas chambers at Birkenau that Litwinska was referring to. The Krema IV and Krema V gas chambers were on the ground floor and had “small windows high up near the roof” where the gas pellets were thrown in by the SS men. But neither of these two gas chambers had a “gas chamber chute” for dumping the victims into the gas chamber from “tipper-type lorries,” which Americans would call dump trucks.
According to the drawings done by Walter Dejaco, one of the architects of the Krema II building, the original blueprint showed a corpse slide for rolling bodies down into the vestibule between the two morgues, which were later converted into an undressing room and a gas chamber. The corpse slide was never built. Dejaco was acquitted by a court in Austria in 1972 at his trial, the drawings of the corpse slide were entered as evidence. (The morgue at the Sachsenhausen camp has a corpse slide which can still be seen today.)
Another survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau was Regina Bialek, a Polish political prisoner, who was saved from the gas chamber at the last moment by Dr. Josef Mengele. Bialek gave a deposition which was entered into the British Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, also known as The Belsen Trial, which took place in 1945 after the end of World War II. According to Bialek’s testimony, the gassing of the Jews at Birkenau did not stop, even on Christmas day.
Here we were tipped unceremoniously on the floor. The room was about 12 yards square and small lights on the wall dimly illuminated it. When the room was full a hissing sound was heard coming from the centre point on the floor and gas came into the room.
After what seemed about ten minutes some of the victims began to bite their hands and foam at the mouth, and blood issued from their ears, eyes and mouth, and their faces went blue.
I suffered from all these symptoms, together with a tight feeling at the throat. I was half conscious when my number was called out by Dr. Mengele and I was led from the chamber. I attribute my escape to the fact that the daughter of a friend of mine who was an Aryan and a doctor at Auschwitz had seen me being transported to the chamber and had told her mother, who immediately appealed to Dr. Mengele.
Apparently he realized that as a political prisoner I was of more value alive than dead, and I was released.
4. I think that the time to kill a person in this particular gas chamber would be from 15 to 20 minutes.
5. I was told that the staffs of the prisoners who worked in the gas chamber and crematorium next door changed every three months, the old staff being taken to a villa in the camp to do some repair work. Here they were locked in the rooms and gas bombs thrown through the window.
I estimate that in December, 1943, about 7,000 people disappeared from Auschwitz by way of the gas chamber and crematorium.
There were two underground gas chambers at Birkenau, but neither of them had a ramp where a lorry or truck could drive down into the gas chamber, as Regina Bialek described in her deposition.
The photo below shows Dr. Josef Mengele with Rudolf Hoess and Josef Kramer relaxing at Solahuette, the SS retreat near Birkenau. Kramer was the Commandant at Birkenau in 1944 when this photo was taken. In December 1944, he was transferred to Bergen-Belsen, which then became a concentration camp. The Bergen-Belsen camp had previously been a holding camp for Jews who were available for exchange with the Allies for German civilians held in British and American prisons. Hoess was the Commander of the SS garrison at Auschwitz in 1944.
Josef Mengele, Rudolf Hoess and Josef Kramer
Josef Mengele wearing his Iron Cross medal
The photo above was taken while Mengele was home on leave, after spending 5 months at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He is wearing an Iron Cross medal on the pocket of his uniform.
Mengele was very proud of his medals he earned the Iron Cross 2nd Class shortly after he was sent to the Ukraine in June 1941 at the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
In January 1942, Mengele joined the prestigious 5th SS Panzer Division, nicknamed the Viking Division. In July 1942, he was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class after he pulled two wounded soldiers out of a burning tank under enemy fire on the battlefield, and administered medical first aid to them.
After being wounded in battle on the Eastern front in 1942, Dr. Mengele was promoted to Hauptsturmführer (Captain) and sent to the Race and Resettlement Office in Berlin, the same office where Adolf Eichmann was in charge of transporting the Jews for “resettlement in the East,” a Nazi euphemism for sending the Jews to be gassed in the death camps.
In May 1943, Dr. Josef Mengele arrived in Auschwitz and was assigned to take care of the medical needs of the Gypsy camp. The following quote is from the book “Mengele, the Complete Story”:
Within days after his arrival, while Auschwitz was in the throes of one of its many typhoid epidemics, Mengele established a reputation for radical and ruthless efficiency. The nearby marshland made clean water difficult to obtain and posed a constant threat from mosquitoes. (Mengele himself contracted malaria in June 1943.) Other SS doctors had failed in their efforts to curb typhus in the close quarters of the camp barracks. Mengele’s solution to the problem was set out in one of the seventy-eight indictments drawn up in 1981 by the West German Prosecutor’s Office, when the authorities thought he was still alive. In terms of detailed evidence, this arrest warrant is the most damning and complete document that was ever compiled against him. According to the warrant, on May 25, 1943, “Mengele sent 507 Gypsies and 528 Gypsy women suspected of typhus to the gas chamber.” It also charged that on “May 25 or 26 he spared those Gypsies who were German while he sent approximately 600 others to be gassed.
According to the book “Mengele, the Complete Story,” a severe outbreak of typhus struck the women’s camp in Birkenau in late 1943, while Dr. Mengele was the chief doctor for the women’s barracks. Around 7,000 of the 20,000 women in the camp were seriously ill and Mengele proposed a radical solution to stop the epidemic.
The following quote is from Dr. Ella Lingens, an Austrian doctor who was a political prisoner at Birkenau. In a personal interview given to S. Jones and K. Rattan on February 14, 1984, Dr. Lingens said the following as quoted in “Mengele, the Complete Story”:
He sent one entire Jewish block of 600 women to the gas chamber and cleared the block. He then had it disinfected from top to bottom. Then he put bath tubs between this block and the next, and the women from the next block came out to be disinfected and then transferred to the clean block. Here they were given a clean new nightshirt. The next block was cleaned in this way and so on until all the blocks were disinfected. End of typhus! The awful thing was that he could not put those first 600 somewhere.
The Birkenau camp was 425 acres in size. Seven small villages had been torn down to make room for the camp it was like a small city with a total of 300 buildings. There was a total of 140,000 prisoners in the camp in 1943, but the barracks had a capacity of 200,000 prisoners. There was plenty of space to put the first 600 women somewhere, even if he had to set up tents on the soccer field which was near one of the gas chambers at Birkenau, but Dr. Mengele didn’t try to find a place for them because he had a complete disregard for human life, as far as the Jews and Gypsies under his care were concerned.
In his performance review, his superior officer complemented him on his work in stopping the typhus epidemic there was no mention of the 600 women that he had allegedly murdered to accomplish this.
Ruth Elias, a survivor of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, who wrote a book entitled “Triumph of Hope,” was one of several women who gave birth to a child at Auschwitz. In her book, Ruth described Dr. Mengele as follows:
Mengele was an attractive man. A perennial little smile showed the gap between his front teeth. Immaculately dressed in jodhpurs, he wore a cap bearing the SS insignia and carried the obligatory riding crop, constantly slapping it against his gleaming black boots. Whenever he spoke to me, he was very polite, giving the impression that he was interested in me. It was hard to believe that his little smile and courteous behavior were just a facade behind which he devised the most horrific murderous schemes.
Ruth Elias and her husband had conceived a child while she was a prisoner in the Theresienstadt camp, and when she arrived at Birkenau on a transport of Czech prisoners in December 1943, she was three months pregnant.
Ruth passed several selections for the gas chamber even though she was obviously pregnant she and her husband were assigned to the Czech “family camp.”
On July 11, 1944, after a selection made by Dr. Mengele, 3,000 prisoners in the Czech family camp, who were not considered fit to work, were sent to the gas chamber, but Ruth passed the selection even though she was in her eighth month of pregnancy. On July 14, 1944, Ruth was sent to Hamburg, Germany to work in clearing rubble from Allied bombing raids.
After only four days of working in Hamburg, Ruth Elias was escorted by an SS man, in a private compartment on a passenger train, to the infirmary at Ravensbrück, the women’s concentration camp near Berlin. From there, Ruth and Berta Reich, another prisoner who was nine months pregnant, were soon sent back to Auschwitz on another passenger train. Ruth gave birth to a baby girl at Auschwitz, but Dr. Mengele cruelly ordered her to bind her breasts and not to nurse her child because he wanted to see how long it would take for a baby to die without its mother’s milk.
Mercifully, a woman dentist named Maca Steinberg, who was a prisoner at Auschwitz, obtained some morphine and gave it to Ruth so that she could inject her baby and end its life, after Ruth told her that Dr. Mengele was due to arrive the next morning to take Ruth and her child to the gas chamber.
Berta Reich gave birth a few days later and immediately injected her baby with morphine, then told Dr. Mengele that her child had been stillborn. After saving themselves from certain death in the gas chamber at Auschwitz, both Ruth and Berta were sent to Taucha, a labor camp near Leipzig, which was a sub-camp of Buchenwald.
Gerda Schrage was 24 years old when she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. She had been in hiding in Berlin during the war, until someone betrayed her to the Gestapo and she was arrested.
According to Gerda’s story, as told in the documentary film “Gerda’s Silence,” when she arrived at Auschwitz, she was pregnant by a married man with whom she had had an affair while she was in hiding. Her baby died in her arms at Birkenau because Dr. Mengele was conducting yet another cruel experiment and allegedly would not allow her to nurse the baby.
After the war, Dr. Josef Mengele worked on a farm under an assumed name for a few years, then escaped to South America he was never put on trial as a war criminal.
If he had been captured and put on trial, Dr. Gisella Perl was prepared to testify against him. Dr. Perl worked as a prison doctor under Dr. Mengele, and was a prisoner herself.
According to the book “Mengele, the Complete Story,” Dr. Perl claimed that a woman prisoner named Ibi had escaped the gas chamber six times by jumping off the truck that was taking the prisoners from the Judenrampe to the gas chambers Dr. Mengele was enraged when he discovered that she had returned to the selection line.
The following quote is from a book by Gisella Perl, entitled “I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz,” published in 1948:
“You are still here?” Dr. Mengele left the head of the column, and with a few easy strides caught up with her. 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 her at the top of his voice, “You want to escape, don’t you. You can’t escape now. This is not a truck, you can’t jump. You are going to burn like the others, you are going to croak, you dirty Jew,” and he went on hitting her poor unprotected head. As I watched, I saw her two beautiful, intelligent eyes disappear under a layer of blood. Her ears weren’t there any longer. Maybe he had torn them off. And in a few seconds, her straight, pointed nose was a flat, broken, bleeding mass. I closed my eyes, unable to bear it any longer, and when I opened them up again, Dr. Mengele had stopped hitting her. But instead of a human head, Ibi’s tall, thin body carried a round blood-red object on its bony shoulders, an unrecognizable object, too horrible to look at he pushed her back into line. 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.
According to the testimony of Rudolf Hoess at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal in 1946, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler gave repeated orders that the staff members at the concentration camps were forbidden “to lay violent hands on the prisoners.” According to the survivors of Birkenau, Dr. Mengele frequently lost his temper and beat the prisoners, yet he was never punished by his superior officers.
Two other Holocaust survivors who escaped death by jumping off the truck taking the Jews to the gas chamber were Gloria Lyon, then 14 years old, and her 12-year-old sister, who were among the Hungarian Jews sent to Birkenau in 1944. Lyon spoke to 10th grade students at Oceana High School in the San Francisco bay area in February 2008.
The following quote is from a news article written by Jane Northrop on the web site http://www.insidethebayarea.com about Gloria Lyon’s ordeal in the Birkenau camp:
There, the family was separated. Lyon’s father and brothers went in one direction, and Lyon and her mother were in another group. Her little sister, who was 12, was supposed to go with a different group, but she jumped off the back of the truck and ran to stay with her mother and sister.
“That saved her life. They were sent to the gas chamber,” Lyon said.
They endured Dr. Josef Mengele’s infamous experiments. Entire groups of people were told to strip and report to the doctor for a “medical exam.”
“It took a lot of energy to face Dr. Mengele. Some dropped faster than others,” she said. When prisoners passed out, they were taken to the other side of the building, from where no prisoner ever returned.
When Lyon herself fainted in the doctor’s office in December, she was sent to the other side.
Naked and terrified, she was placed with the other weakened prisoners in a truck guarded by an SS trooper. The guard spoke to her in Hungarian, which she understood from living in Czechoslovakia. The guard said he knew who she was, because it was so unusual for so many members of a single family to remain alive.
The truck was headed for the gas chamber, but if she wanted to jump off the back, he wouldn’t stop her or anyone who wanted to go with her. She promised not to rat him out. None of her fellow prisoners, however, wanted to join her.
“Everyone was starved and stripped of hope,” she said.
She jumped and saw a ditch where she could hide in a culvert. She was so thin from the months of starvation she could fit inside the pipe and out of sight. There she hid without food or clothing. She was still in the camp, but at least she had escaped the gas chamber.
“I have no recollection of feeling any cold whatsoever. I remember feeling triumphant. I felt like I defeated the entire German army,” she said. When her escape was discovered, an alarm was sounded but no one found her hiding place.
After 24 hours in the darkness, she followed one shining light that turned out to be at an unguarded barracks. The small group of surprised prisoners took her in. This group, with Lyon among them, was ordered into cattle cars and taken away from Auschwitz. Lyon longed to see her mother and sister again, but knew she faced certain death if she were discovered in Auschwitz.
After three days of travel, the group arrived at Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp where the crematorium was burning day and night. That’s where Lyon passed her 15th birthday.
Among the survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau was Philip Riteman, a Polish Jew sent to the camp in 1941, who had the presence of mind to lie about his age in order to be selected for the line that was destined for slave labor. In a speech which Riteman gave to Riverview and Central Collegiate students in Moose Jaw, Canada in May 2008, as reported by Lacey Sheppy in the Moose Jaw Times Herald on May 23, 2008, Riteman said that he grew up in Szereszow, Poland, a town of about 25,000 people – not unlike Moose Jaw. He was in Grade 5 when the war began in 1939. The Ritemans were rounded up and sent to the Pruzhany ghetto, where they lived for nine months in a 10-foot by 12-foot room with two other families.
The following quote is from the article written by Lacey Sheppy, which was published on May 23, 2008 in the Moose Jaw Times Herald:
In 1941, Riteman’s family was put on a train with about 10,000 other people. Seven days later, after being crammed in alongside 100 people in a rail car with no food, no water or bathrooms, the train finally stopped . . . at Auschwitz-Birkenau. As Riteman’s eyes adjusted to the sunlight, he saw something that still haunts him to this day.
“There was a woman in her 20s, pretty, who got off the train,” he said “I’ll never forget her because she wore high-heeled shoes.”
The woman was carrying an infant in her arms. A Nazi soldier ripped the baby from her and smashed its head onto the pavement.
As the mother lunged for the child, screaming and crying, the soldier shoved a bayonet into her stomach.
“There was just blood, all over, blood,” said Riteman.
With no time to process what he just witnessed, Riteman was put in a line to be separated. Although only 14, Riteman lied about his age and told the Nazis he was 17.
Riteman – along with other men and young, fit boys – were separated into one group, while women, children, the elderly and infirm went into another.
Labourers were sent into the camp for processing, while the rest – including Riteman’s parents, grandparents, five brothers, two sisters, nine aunts and uncles and numerous cousins – were sent to the gas chambers.
Riteman’s story is not unique. Numerous Auschwitz survivors were saved from the gas chamber by lying about their age and there were many witnesses who saw the notoriously undisciplined “Nazi soldiers” bash a baby’s head against the nearest tree or on the ground, while no one intervened.
Auschwitz personnel on holiday at Solahuette
The photo above shows Auschwitz staff members in the summer of 1944 cavorting with women auxiliaries, aka Helferinnen, while on holiday at the SS retreat at Solahuette, 20 miles from the camp. The SS men were enjoying themselves, without a care in the world, while 3,000 Jews per day were being gassed and burned at Birkenau.
After passing the initial selection for the gas chamber upon arrival, the Jewish women prisoners at Birkenau were forced to live in crowded barracks that were damp and unheated. Dr. Mengele would visit the barracks periodically to make further selections for the gas chamber.
The following quote is from a news article about Auschwitz survivor Rosa Freund in the Pensacola News Journal, published on May 5, 2009:
Although more than six decades have passed, Rosa Freund can still feel the hand of one of the 20th century’s most notorious monsters on her arm.
In 1944, the 17-year-old Hungarian Jew stood naked before infamous Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele, physician of Auschwitz concentration camp known for his experimentation on humans.
“He grabbed my arm and turned me around,” said Freund, now 82. “I was skinny, already. Thank God I didn’t have a pimple on my body, because a pimple was all you needed to be sent to the crematorium.” (The gas chambers at Auschwitz were located in the crematorium buildings, so that the bodies could be burned immediately after the victims were gassed.)
Freund related her story to a group of about 300 members of the military and civilians gathered in the Whiting Field Naval Air Station auditorium Monday for the Milton base’s Holocaust Days of Remembrance program.
According to the Pensacola News Journal article, Rosa Freund described her stay in Auschwitz as follows:
Life there was nearly unbearable, she said, with hard labor often expected, only one garment allotted per person and sometimes not even a bed to sleep in.
“We got one soup ladle of black coffee, but to this day, I think it was dishwater,” said Freund, who now lives in Tucson, Ariz. “We got one slice of bread. … Probably it was sawdust and something. If you were lucky, you would get some potato peels.”
According to a news article in the Quad-City Times, Yanina Cywinska survived the gas chamber at Auschwitz when she was 10 years old. Cywinska presented the Geifman Lecture in Holocaust Studies at the Augustana College in Rock Island, IL on April 11, 2005, sharing her firsthand account of the atrocities that she endured as a prisoner in Auschwitz and later at Dachau.
According to the Quad City Times, Yanina Cywinska was a 10-year-old student at the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) when her Polish Catholic parents suddenly called her home to Warsaw. Cywinska’s parents, a physician and an artist, worked to assist Jews imprisoned in the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Poland until they themselves were placed in a Warsaw detention center. Once the family boarded trains for Auschwitz, Yanina would never see her parents or brother again.
At Auschwitz, Yanina survived the gas chamber when adult bodies fell on top of her, protecting her from inhaling a lethal amount of poison gas. Found moaning by Jewish slave laborers who were forced to remove the bodies from the gas chambers, Yanina was resuscitated, given a uniform and told to blend in. Prisoners under the age of 15 were routinely gassed at Auschwitz, but Yanina was able to escape detection after her remarkable rescue.
When the Auschwitz camp was evacuated in January 1945, Yanina was taken to the Dachau camp in Germany, where she remained until it was liberated in April 1945.
One of the Auschwitz survivors who was selected by Dr. Josef Mengele for his cruel and horrific experiments was Yitzchak Ganon, a Greek Jew who was deported, along with his parents and 5 brothers and sisters to Auschwitz in 1944, according to a news article by Alan Hall, published on December 11, 2009. Ganon told reporter Alan Hall that he was selected for an experiment in which Dr. Mengele removed one of his kidneys without an anesthetic: “He cut into me without an anesthetic. The pain was indescribable. I felt every slice of the knife. Then I saw my kidney pulsating in his hand. […] After the operation I was given no painkillers and put to work. I cleaned up after the bloody operations carried out by Mengele.”
The following quote is from the news article by Alan Hall:
Six months later, Mengele called for him again. He was immersed in a tub of freezing water and intermittently inspected by Mengele who said he wanted to check on how his lungs were functioning.
‘Then I was selected for gassing because my body was no longer any use to them,’ he said.
He was the 201st man sent to the gas chambers one morning – but it was full after 200. ‘That saved my life,’ he said. ‘I was then sent back to the camp.’
He went back to Greece when Auschwitz was liberated, was reunited with one brother and one sister who survived the SS round-ups, and emigrated to Israel in 1949.
Dr. Josef Mengele died on February 7, 1979 when he suffered a stroke while swimming at Bertioga beach in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was not until a couple of years after his death that survivors began to come forward with stories about the crimes that he had committed at Birkenau, and a massive manhunt was made to find him.
February 7 1979 – Nazi ‘Angel of Death’ Dr. Josef Mengele dies
Dr. Josef, the SS physician who gained notoriety for his inhumane medical experimentation upon the inmates of the concentration camp at Auschwitz, died on February 7, 1979. Popularly known as the Angel of Death or White Angel, Mengele died of a stroke in Brazil. His death was verified much later, though, in 1985.
Josef Mengele was born in Gunzburg, Germany, on March 16, 1911, the eldest among the three sons of Karl and Walburga Mengele. In Bavaria, Karl had founded Frima Karl Mengele & Sohne, a manufacturing plant that designed and produced farm implements. When Josef Mengele went to college at Munich, he initially studied philosophy. It is believed that he was deeply moved by the racist theories of Alfred Rosenberg and it was in these formative years that he took on a fanatically anti-Semitic, pro-Aryan outlook. Mengele went on to study medicine at Frankfurt University. In 1935 he completed work on a dissertation that studied the structural differences in the lower jaw of the different races. Having earned his PhD, Mengele started to work in Frankfurt as the assistant of Dr. Otmar von Verschuer (known for his work on twins) at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene.
By 1931, Mengele had joined the paramilitary organization called Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten. In 1934 this organization became part of the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA).Mengele officially joined the Nazi Party in 1937 and was inducted into the SS later that year. He was drafted into the army in 1940 and is believed to have voluntarily joined the medical service of the Waffen-SS (Armed SS). In the next three years, Mengele worked with the Race and Settlement Main Office (Rasse-und Siedlungshauptamt), at the Central Immigration Office (Einwandererstelle), and with the SS Pioneer Battalion V as a battalion medical officer. In 1942, Mengele was seriously wounded when he faced action near Rostov-on-Don. Having been declared unfit for further action, Mengele was sent to rest for a few months. As he started to recover, Mengele was transferred to the Race and Resettlement Office in Berlin and in 1943 he applied to serve at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
On May 30, 1943 he gained the transfer to the Auschwitz camp. Josef Mengele’s infamy revolves around his stint at Auschwitz despite the fact that almost 30 physicians served at the camp during his tenure and he was not the highest-ranking physician. The position was held by SS captain Dr. Eduard Wirths. Mengele was initially the physician responsible for Birkenau’s “Gypsy camp” which held the Roma captives but soon rose to the position of the Camp Physician.
Mengele started to strike fear in hearts of the millions who were sent to Auschwitz due to his demeanor at the ‘Ramp’. A placid, collected, impeccably dressed physician, Mengele used to turn up as often as possible for “selection” – a process by which the masses of prisoners arriving at Auschwitz were immediately segregated to be sent to the gas chamber or to the harshest forms of labor. While all physicians were required to undertake the task, Mengele often took on the duty of others and seemed sober and keen on its discharge, unlike the others. With a flick of his hand or a lash he’d cry “Left” or “Right” and decide the fate of the millions brought to Auschwitz.
Apart from selection, Mengele’s special interest was a research into genetics and hereditary. This was conducted in the form of utterly gruesome, inhuman experiments. Convinced of the superiority of the Aryan race, Mengele sought to distinguish himself by coming up with a formula that would increase the blond, blue-eyed Aryan population in the world. The birth of twins was the obvious solution. To understand and research the phenomenon of twin births, Mengele rounded up and experimented on any pair of twins that landed at the camp. “Zwillinge!” (“Twins!”) – The cry often struck terror in the hearts of parents. Of about three thousand twins, mostly children, pulled from the prisoners on the ramp, only about two hundred survived to tell of the horrors Mengele had in store for them.
“Mengele’s children,” the twins were all tattooed with a special number. Their medical records were maintained meticulously as they were subject to a variety of physical tests and medical experiments. Some of the experiments performed by Mengele on the twins included blood transfusion between twins, bleeding and blood tests, amputation of limbs, intentional introduction of one twin with typhus or a similar disease, isolation and psychological experiments and incestuous insemination. Most of the twins suffered inhuman torture and those who did not die were killed for a study of the results of such experimentation. It is believed that Mengele had once personally killed fourteen twins in one night by injecting a chloroform injection to their hearts. In one case he had sewn together twins for weeks together to “create” conjoined twins. The children died of pain from infected wounds.
Apart from his work on twins, Mengele was fascinated with heterochromia – a condition in which an individual has two irises of different colors. Mengele conducted a number of experiments in trying to change the color of his victims’ eyes. He killed and collected the eyes of many Auschwitz prisoners and sent them as “research material” to Karin Magnussen, a researcher of eye coloration. He also came to be known for conducting surgeries without anesthesia, sex change surgeries, experiments on pregnant women, and experiments with various drugs.
Unlike other SS personnel, Mengele’s activities were recorded by various individuals, though most of these were destroyed by the Nazis. Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a prisoner-physician who was forced to assist Mengele wrote about his experiences and published them in 1946, thereafter translating them in many languages.
In January 1945, as the Soviet Army closed in on Auschwitz through western Poland, Mengele left for the Gross-Rosen concentration camp disguised as an ordinary Nazi soldier. From Gross-Rosen he headed west, to evade capture but was caught by the American troops in June 1945. The Allies inadvertently set him free, unaware of his notoriety.
Initially working as a farmhand in Bavaria, he soon migrated to Argentina. The International Military Tribunal (IMT) and other courts reconstructed his crimes and by 1959,a warrant for Mengele’s arrest had been issued. Mengele fled to Paraguay and then to Sao Pãolo in Brazil. on February 7, 1979, Mengele suffered a stroke while swimming and drowned. He was buried under the assumed identity – “Wolfgang Gerhard” – in a Sao Pãolo suburb.
In 1985, German police dug up the grave and exhumed Mengele’s corpse. Forensic experts established the identity of Josef Mengele. In 1992, his death was confirmed by DNA evidence. The Angel of Death had successfully evaded arrest for 34 years.
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Josef Mengele – the Angel of Death
After the war many Nazi doctors were tried at Nuremberg, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yet the man who became the most infamous Nazi doctor — although Hitler himself may never heard of him — fled to South America and escaped prosecution. He was never caught and convicted, though he lived for decades thereafter.
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Mengele, called ‘Uncle’ by the countless children he subjected to gruesome experiments and unthinkable torture, and known as the “Angel of Death” in the concentration camps, was responsible for the torture and deaths of 400,000 people, and the torment of thousands more. The most important thing to note about Mengele is that he was not an isolated example of an evil maniac gone berserk. He was simply part of a system and a much wider network of Nazi doctors. His work may have been different from those of the other doctors only in quantitative terms not qualitative terms.
Today, the Auschwitz experiments of Josef Mengele remain the most egregious example of the collaboration of unscrupulous researchers with equally unscrupulous senior scientists and prestigious scientific institutions – which is a phenomenon that could be happening on a wide scale in our own times, especially in matters of drug trials of giant pharmaceutical corporations. In 1947, the world learned of what is now the most infamous scandal in medical research: medical experiments conducted by Nazi doctors. Nazi doctors performed a variety of extremely disturbing experiments on prisoners in concentration camps.
The Term Paper on Nazi Experiments
The Validity of Nazi Hypothermia Experimentations: The Question of Ethics Versus Scientific Knowledge. This essay deals with medical experiments conducted by the Nazis during the Second World War. Many types of experimentation occurred in the Third Reich, they include euthanasia, hypothermia, high pressure, and genetics. However, most of the experiments carried out in Nazi Germany are .
Some experiments were designed to further the war effort. For example, to study gunshot wounds, Nazi doctors shot inmates and examined their wounds. To study diseases such as typhus, Nazi doctors intentionally infected inmates with disease. To study human capacity to withstand exposure to cold, Nazi doctors stripped inmates and exposed them to icy water or blizzards. However, the majority of experiments had less to do with winning the war and more to do with promoting or substantiating Nazi ideology. Doctors were interested in sterilizing undesirables, “curing” homosexuality, and establishing anthropological differences between races.
To find an effective means of mass sterilization, Nazi doctors injected hundreds of women with a caustic substance in the hope of obstructing their fallopian tubes, and inflicted severe burns and infections on both male and female prisoners by exposing them to high doses of radiation. To “cure” homosexuality, Nazi doctors injected hormones into inmates suspected of being homosexual. To catalog physical differences in race, Nazi doctors killed a number of prisoners, stripped the flesh off their bones, and saved their skeletons for an anthropological museum.
Dr. Mengele is among the best known SS physicians at Auschwitz, and was responsible along with other SS doctors for “selections” and medical experiments that used prisoners as guinea pigs. Mengele could never have thought of himself as a monstrous psychopath, though, but only as a “biomedical scientist” participating in a broad program of racial research. During the Holocaust Mengele and many other Nazi physicians used thousands of camp inmates, especially those with disabilities and “deformities” as subjects for their biomedical racial “research. “
Born in the Swabian section of Bavaria in 1911 into an upper middle-class family, Mengele eventually earned two doctorates. The first doctorate was in physical anthropology at Munich under Theodor Mollison in 1935 and the second was in medicine at Frankfurt under Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer in 1938. He received his license to practice medicine in late 1937 but apparently did not pursue certification in a specialty. Instead, he opted for research. As a student of anthropology, he had studied under the leading exponents of the “life unworthy of living” theory and it greatly influenced his thinking and behavior.
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Stars today portray a picture perfect image of how everyone should look, but is it really worth it? To some, yes it is, but when you weigh the pros and cons it really is not worth it. What really is beauty, and why are people so obsessed with it? These days there is a cosmetic procedure to fix any kind of issue that someone thinks they need to have, anything ranging from getting cosmetic dentistry .
The notion that some lives were not worth living was rapidly becoming academically acceptable. His two dissertation supervisors were eugenicists, and his dissertations in anthropology at Munich and in medicine at Frankfurt both dealt with research in racial hygiene. After finishing his second doctorate, Mengele continued his research in Verschuer’s Frankfurt Institute for Hereditary Biology and Race Hygiene. As principal investigator, Verschuer supervised the research of numerous assistants under a variety of DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – German Research Foundation) research grants.
Verschuer’s 1938 report to the DFG on this sponsored research, focusing on the genetic study of twins and families, lists the work and publications of his assistant Mengele. Although Mengele did not join the Nazi party until 1938, he belonged to the brown-shirt storm troopers, the SA, during 1933-34 and in 1938 joined the SS. As an SS member, he was drafted during the war into the Waffen SS instead of the Wehrmacht, advancing by 1943 to the rank of captain (Hauptstrumfuhrer).
He served as an SS physician to the Eastern front until he was wounded and therefore posted to the concentration camp death head units in the rear. He functioned during 1943-1944 as one of the SS physicians at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. In his new post, Mengele performed the usual duties of a concentration camp SS physician as well as the special Auschwitz assignment of directing selections for the gas chamber. In addition, Auschwitz opened up unlimited opportunities for the ambitious researcher.
Research subjects were available in large numbers, and the restraints of medical ethics did not apply. Further, Mengele could compel highly skilled inmate physicians to design and conduct research, perform tests and autopsies, and produce research papers, without the need to share credit with them. It is therefore not surprising that Mengele used Auschwitz as a research laboratory. Otmar von Verschuer, Mengele’s mentor who was himself a protege of Eugen Fischer, had left Frankfurt for Berlin in 1942 to succeed Fischer as director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology.
The Essay on Josef Mengele People Auschwitz Experiments
THE ANGEL OF DEATH: JOSEF MENGELE "Right, left", what man could send people to their death with a flick of a cane, without batting an eye Josef Mengele. The stories and pictures of Auschwitz tell a gruesome tale of death and torture. Stories of the abused, used, and killed, the tales of the tortures have been told, but what about the torturers The SS, the "doctors", the ones who carried out the .
Mengele had worked at the institute during SS assignments to Berlin and thus continued to contribute to Verschuer’s research projects (Cefrey 62).
When Mengele went to Auschwitz, Vershuer realized the potential of this posting, and as principal investigator, he carried Mengele’s Auschwitz experiments on his DFG grants. Therefore, Mengele’s experiments — that often necessitated the killing of children, thousands of them (especially twins) — were part of the official program and in pursuing his shockingly macabre “research” he was only following the broad lines of Nazi research agenda.
Driven by the desire to advance his medical career by scientific publications, Dr Mengele began to conduct all kinds of utterly atrocious medical experiments on living Jews, children, twins, disabled people, and all those who fell into the Nazi category of ‘Untermenschen’ – all of whom he took from the barracks of the concentration camp at Auschwitz, or ‘selected’ right away on their arrival, and brought to his hospital block.
Mengele used the pretext of medical treatment to kill thousands upon thousands of prisoners, personally administering the horrific torture procedures, for example as by injecting them with phenol, petrol, chloroform, or by ordering SS medical orderlies to do so. From the moment of his arrival at Auschwitz, Mengele joined the other SS officers and SS doctors, among them Dr Clauberg and Dr Kremer, in the ‘selection’ of Jews reaching the Auschwitz railway junction from all over Europe.
With a movement of the hand or the wave of a stick, he indicated as ‘unfit for work’, and thus destined for immediate death in the gas chambers, all children, old people, sick, crippled and weak Jews, and all pregnant women. Between May 1943 and November 1944 Mengele conducted, also along with Dr. Heinz Thilo, scores of such selections. Mengele was especially on the lookout for twins and other promising research subjects (Lifton 165).
He also took an equally decisive part in several selections in the camp infirmary, pointing out for death by shooting, injection or gassing those Jews whose strength had been sapped by starvation, force labor, untreated illness or ill-treatment by the guards. On May 26, 1943, only two days after he arrived at Aushwitz, Mengele committed his first mass murder. There was a typhoid epidemic in the barracks of over a thousand Gypsies who had been brought to the camp two months earlier.
The Essay on Josef Mengele
. 30, 1943 Josef Mengele arrived to Auschwitz. He was then appointed chief doctor at Auschwitz. He conducted many horrific medical experiments, especially on twins. He killed . experiments on anyone that arrived at Auschwitz. He did his work in the name of the Nazi ideology. Josef, wanted to unlock .
For Dr Mengele, typhoid was not an illness to be cured, but one to be eliminated that day, all the Gypsies were dragged out of their barracks and driven to the gas chambers. Against their names in the camp register were put the letters ‘SB’ – ‘Sondebehandlung’, Special Treatment. This was just a sign of much worse things to come. In perpetrating a host of such ghastly “medical and scientific experiments,” Mengele was of course being an independent member of a larger cohort of wanton butchers.
These Nazi doctors most brazenly forsook their Hippocratic Oath and armed themselves with scalpels, forceps, and needles in inflicting immeasurable pain and torture on hundreds of thousands of innocent people, a significant portion of them being children. Mengele regularly mailed the results of his research on twins to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. There scientists analyzed the samples of blood obtained before death and the organs obtained after dissection.
It was a systematic, organized and purposeful enterprise. Though few of these doctors collected scientifically valid data and many of the experiments were expressions of pure pathological sadism, the Nazi doctors justified their acts of torture and inhumanity as attempts to improve German medicine and advance science. Mengele himself, through his research on twins, dreamed of being able to genetically engineer a flawless race.
The ultimate goal was to produce an ideal race of Aryan men and women endowed with only the finest genetic traits, who would rapidly multiply and rule the world. (Lagnado, Dekel 61) Of the approximately 350 doctors who are estimated to have committed medical crimes, only about 20 doctors and 3 assistants were brought to justice in Nuremberg (Spitz 50).
Some others were tried, and sentenced to in American military trials at Dachau.
Still many doctors escaped, including one who would become the most infamous of them all, Dr. Josef Mengele. Human experimentation neither arose with the Nazis, nor ended with them however, the history of human experimentation in the West is usually divided into two eras: before the Nazis and after. Mengele is by no means such a grotesque aberration as he may appear to be at first. Nazi doctors perpetrated some of the most horrendous actions during the Third Reich, but the shadows of Auschwitz and Nuremberg are long.
The Term Paper on Mengele Josef Twins People Auschwitz
. shirt and pants, and glistening silver skulls. Josef Mengele was a doctor at Auschwitz, he performed experiments, made selections, . Mengele, who called either "Right!" (work squads) or "Left!" (gas chambers). [he] promoted medical experimentation on inmates, especially twins. . gave us some horribly painful injections." Josef Mengele was very high up in Nazi status, he reported to Heinrich .
Though Mengele escaped scot-free, we at least know about his evil deeds there may be many others of his ilk alive today and even working in collaboration with reputed organizations whose work we may never even come to know. Works Cited Cefrey, Holly. “Doctor Josef Mengele: The Angel of Death” New York : The Rosen Publishing Group, 2001 Lagnado, Lucette Matalon Dekel, Sheila Cohn. “Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz. ” New York : Penguin Books, 1992 Lifton, Robert Jay. “The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide” New
Josef Mengele People Auschwitz Experiments
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Boot Camps At A Glance
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Euthanasia Life Vs Death
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Gruesome Facts About The Nazi Concentration Camp Doctor Known As ‘The Angel Of Death’ Josef Mengele
If you ask people what was the worst event in human history, many would say the Holocaust. If you asked them who the worst and most brutal person during the Holocaust was, many would say it was Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death” who conducted ghastly and horrifying experiments on live subjects, most of them children.
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.