Dr. Josef Mengele was born on March 16, 1911, the eldest of three sons of Karl and Walburga Mengele. Josef was refined, intelligent and popular in his town. He studied philosophy at Munich and medicine at Frankfurt University. In 1935 his dissertation dealt with racial differences in the structure of the lower jaw.
In 1937 he joined the Nazi party, then in 1938 he went to the SS. In 1942 he was wounded at the Russian front and was pronounced unfit for duty. After that he volunteered to go to the concentration camp, he was sent to the death camp, Auschwitz.
Dr. Josef Mengele, nicknamed "the Angel of Death", became the surviving symbol of Adolf Hitler's "Final Solution
". Mengele was always immaculately prepared for the long-drawn-out rituals of death, the hellish selections which the young SS doctor so regularly attended during his twenty-one months at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Josef Mengele was the chief provider for the gas chambers and their crematoria - and did well! "He had a look that said 'I am the power,'" said one survivor. When it was reported that one block was infected with lice, Mengele solved the problem by gassing all the 750 women assigned to it. At the time, Mengele was only thirty-two years old.
The Angel of Death fed his legend by dramatizing murderous policies, such as his drawing a line on the wall of the children's block between 150 and 156 centimeters (about 5 feet or 5 feet 2 inches) from the floor.Then sending those whose heads could not reach the line to the gas chamber ... (Lifton, p. 346.)
The memory of this slightly built man, scarcely a hair out of place, his dark green tunic neatly pressed, his face well scrubbed, 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 lefthand side with a flick of the cane clasped in a gloved hand.
When a mother did not want to be separated from her thirteen-year-old daughter, and bit and scratched the face of the SS man who tried to force her to her assigned line, Mengele drew his gun and shot both the woman and the child. As a blanket punishment, he then sent to the gas all people from that transport who had previously been selected for work, with the comment: "Away with this shit!" (Lifton)
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.
Once Mengele's assistant rounded up 14 pairs of Gypsy twins during the night. Mengele supervised how they were placed on his polished marble dissection table and put to sleep. The assistant then proceeded to inject chloroform into their hearts, killing them instantaneously. He then began dissecting and meticulously noting each and every piece of the twins' bodies.
Twins undergoing his experiments didn't know what the objectives were. It is known that he had a special pathology lab where he performed autopsies on twins who had died from experiments. It was located next to the cremetorium.
Mengele injected chemicals into the eyes of children in an attempt to change their eye color. He experimented both physical and psychological; experimental surgeries performed without anesthesia, 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 book Children of the Flames chronicles the notorious medical experimental activities of Josef Mengele on approximately three thousand twins who passed through the Auschwitz death camp during WWII until its liberation at the end of the war. Unfortunately a strict veil of secrecy over the experiments enabled Mengele to do his work more effectively.
Only a few of the three thousand twins survived and now fifty years later they have told their story of how they were given special privileges in Auschwitz due to Mengele’s interest in twins. How as a result they have suffered during the past fifty years as the children who survived the still unknown and unexplained medical experiments and injections which they were subjected to at the hands of Josef Mengele.
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 ..."
The full extent of his gruesome work will never be known because the records he sent to his mentor, Dr. Von Verschuer at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, were shipped out in two truckloads and destroyed by the latter. Any remaining notes Mengele carried with him on his escape to South America and those were never found.
Josef Mengele left Auschwitz disguised as a member of the regular German infantry. He turned up at the Gross-Rosen work camp and left well before it was liberated on February 11, 1945. He was then seen at Matthausen and shortly after he was captured as a POW and held near Munich. He was released by the allies, who had no idea that he was in their midst.
By the fall of 1948, Mengele had made up his mind to leave Germany and build a life elsewhere. Argentina was the preferred choice of sanctuary. There was a groundswell of Nazi sympathy in Argentina. And his father, Karl Sr., who owned a firm that manufactured agricultural equipment, thought that though his company had no branches in Argentina, he had made several business connections there that Josef might develop.
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.
In the 60' Adolf Eichmann was caught and 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 defense 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 Josef 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.
In South America Mengele divorced Irene Mengele. In 1958, he married his brother Karl's widow, Martha, and later she and her son moved to Argentina to join Mengele. Mengele's life had now established itself into the comfortable and secure routine of a family man in a 9-to-5 job with good prospects.
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.
In MENGELE: The Complete Story (McGraw-Hill, 1986), Gerald L. Posner, and his co-author, John Ware, solved the riddle of the missing Nazi doctor. Nazi hunters, using newly discovered information, uncovered his grave marked "Wolfgang Gerhard" at Embu. Then his family admitted they had shielded him all those years and 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.