Dr. Josef Mengele
By: Jeremy Chassereau
The Angel Of Death
Josef's Family Business
Josef Mengele grew up wealthy in Gunzburg, Germany. His father, Karl Mengele, fought in World War I, while his mother took over the family threshing production business. When the war ended, the company, simply named Karl Mengele, took full advantage of a peacetime hike in production and became the third largest company of its kind in Germany. The factory became Gunzburg's largest employer and the Mengeles became the town's wealthiest family.According to a few unverified reports, the factory still exists, with many jobs attached to it, in Gunzburg today.
His Entry Into The Nazi Party
Josef's Job As An Nazi
With war was on the horizon, Mengele went to basic training and eventually was assigned to a regiment as a medic. He fought for the Third Reich in the early years of the war, even continuing his medical work with a paper about hereditary links found in ear fistules (folds). He also found time to marry Irene Schonbein, though first, as a requirement for being a member in the SS, he had to make sure she was of “pure blood.” Though it could not be determined if her great grandfather’s (an American diplomat named Harry Lyons Dumler) mother had any Jewish blood, she was given the okay due to friends saying she was “very Nordic in her ways.”
In 1942, Verschuer got Mengele placed out of harm’s way and into the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Genetics and Eugenics. There, Verschuer and Mengele continued their work together. In 1943, with Verschuer’s blessing, he applied for work at Auschwitz to take advantage of the prisoners there. He was accepted and thus began Mengele’s most notorious work.
Mengele, like his mentor, took great interest in the medical attributes of twins, especially children. He would routinely separate twins, sometimes killing one to see if the other could “sense” it. He would study the differences and similarities between the two, often the eyes. To do this, he would gouge out the eyes, among many other similarly appalling experiments.
As the war dragged on, his “work” expanded beyond twins to others. As mentioned, he and several guards would stand at the top of “the ramp” while trains unloaded, pointing and shoving people in one direction or another, nearly solely at Mengele’s discretion. As described in a 1992 report, seven years in the making, prepared by the United States’ Office of Special Investigations and presented to the Attorney General, “in a grotesque perversion of the physician’s role, Auschwitz so-called ‘Angel of Death’ employed his knowledge of the workings of life in order to destroy it.” The report goes onto describe his apparent complete lack of remorse for anything he did and the continuous heinous acts that Mengele committed.
His Actions After The War
The Soviet Armed Forces (the Red Army) captured Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, but Mengele had already fled by then. He traveled around occupied German territories, evading Soviet and American forces while carrying with him several boxes of medical records. He worked as a farmhand, until he went to Genoa in 1949 and, then, a few months later, he took sanctuary in Argentina. His wife Irene refused to go with him and they divorced. He chose Argentina, like many of his Nazi colleagues, because the government was firmly pro-Axis, thanks to President Juan Dominego Peron’s fascist admiration. To this point, German was taught in many Argentinian schools. With open arms, Peron accepted Nazi fugitives, not just for ideological reasons, but financial as well. Many of these escapees brought wealth with them often looted from former prisoners.
Argentina is where Mengele lived the next five years of his life, mostly under a false name, working as a small pharmaceutical business owner and farmer. After an incident where a girl he tried to perform an abortion on died, he left for Paraguay. In May 1960, the Mossad (the Israeli Intelligence Agency whose job was to track down Nazi war criminals and bring them to Israel for trial) captured Adolf Eichmann. They turned their attentions next to Mengele.
His Last Years
During the Nuremberg Trials in 1945/1946, Mengele’s name was mentioned several times, but Allied forces thought he was dead. The Mossad knew otherwise. Much later, it is almost universally thought that the Mossad had found Mengele living in São Paulo, Brazil in 1962. But, due to budgetary concerns and the ongoing dispute with Egypt, the Mossad was called back home and could not pursue.
Josef Mengele went on to live another 17 years in relative seclusion and deteriorating health, with recently published journal entries indicating he never changed his political ideologies nor showed any remorse for his actions. He had a stroke in 1976 and died in 1979. He was buried under the false name “Wolfgang Gerhard” in Brazil. It wasn’t until 1992 that authorities exhumed the body and DNA proved that this Wolfgang was, in fact, Josef Mangele, Auschwitz’s Angel of Death.