The Holocaust

Experiments and the "Angel of Death": Dr. Josef Mengele

The "Angel of Death"

Dr. Josef Mengele began his work originally as a member of the Nazi Party SS, but soon after joining, he received his medical degree and was transferred to Auschwitz. His nickname, "Angel of Death", comes from the demeanor he always had whenever he was on the ramp at Auschwitz when a new shipment of prisoners came in. He would choose which of the people he deemed fit enough to work, and which of the people would be immediately killed in the gas chambers. He did so with a flick of his finger. Left or right (24).

Twins (25)

When Mengele first joined the Nazi party, he became the assistant of Dr. Otmar von Verschuer, who was huge figure in the scientific community thanks to his research on twins (26). Ever since then, Josef Mengele had been obsessed with studying twins. In Auschwitz, Mengele would stand on the ramp and scour the arriving prisoners for any twins that might be present. If there were twins found, they were taken to his laboratories, where they were booked and taken to their own private barrack.

Living conditions for twins were some of the best in Auschwitz. The twins were given a supplemental breakfast everyday, they were spared from consequences other prisoners faced, they were given menial jobs like being a messenger, and they were even allowed outside to play at times (27).

Mengele's Experiments on Twins

Although being a twin in Auschwitz meant that you had better living conditions than most of the other prisoners, it didn't necessarily mean that you would live. Out of the 3,000 twins who went through Mengele's laboratories, only 200 survived until the end of the war (28). This was due to the love and curiosity that Dr. Mengele had towards experimentation. Some of the things he would do to the twins include, but were not limited to: blood transfusions between twins, eye injections to change their eye color, mysterious injections of fatal diseases, organ removal & amputation. It was even said, that Dr. Mengele would inject a fatal disease into one twin to see how long they could survive. As soon as that twin died, the other was killed immediately so that Mengele could conduct a double autopsy, studying the body of the healthy twin & the body of the diseased twin at the same time (29).

Some of the Twins Who Were Experimented on by Josef Mengele