Gallery D

Josef Mengele

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Hitler’s "Angel Of Death"

By James Donahue

His name was Josef Mengele. He was a highly educated and skilled German physician who became the chief doctor at Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Instead of using his talents to heal and comfort, however, Mengele experimented with the prisoners before murdering them.

Mengele earned the nickname "Angel of Death" because he oversaw the fatal, bizarre and brutal medical experiments that killed over 400,000 victims. While some of his experimentation on live human subjects led to a significant advancement in medical knowledge, the man was barbaric in nearly everything he did.

The man did such things as pour chemicals into the eyes of children to see if he could change the eye color, he operated on children attempting to change their sex, and he ordered parents to kill their own children.

Mengele made weekly visits to hospital barracks. Prisoners who did not recover after two weeks in bed were sent to the gas chambers.

When a typhus epidemic swept the women’s camp, Mengele took care of the problem by clearing one block of 600 women and sent them all to the gas chamber. The building was then cleaned and disinfected, and the women from a neighboring block were bathed, de-loused and given new clothes before moving into the cleaned block. The same process went on until all of the barracks were cleaned.

Mengele used this same technique when scarlet fever and other diseases swept the camp. All sick subjects were sent to the gas chamber. The doctor was highly decorated for his work.

Mengele was the son of a wealthy Bavarian family. In spite of being raised in a strict Roman Catholic home, the man lacked moral fiber. He was attracted to the Nazi political party as a young man, and once accepted into the party, he sought membership in the SS.

As an SS officer, Mengele studied medicine at the University of Frankfurt, then joined the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene. While there he studied physical anthropology and genetics. He published significant articles on genetic abnormalities and racial variations in primary features.

The war interrupted Mengele’s studies. He went on the front line as a medical corpsman. He was wounded in action and declared unfit for combat. After this he applied for the job of chief doctor at Auschwitz. He perceived the camp as a great place for him to conduct lawless medical experimentation on a vast number of prisoners.

A complete psychopath, Mengele won the trust of the children he experimented with. His subjects were better fed and housed than other prisoners. He established a kindergarten, and even a playground. He gave the children candy and introduced himself as "Uncle Mengele." Then after conducting agonizing experiments on the children, he sent the ones that survived his work to gas chambers.

Those who knew Mengele described him as sadistic, lacking empathy and anti-Semitic. He believed the Jews were a dangerous race that needed to be exterminated.

After the war, Mengele slipped out of captured prisoners of war camps, fled Germany and was believed to have successfully escaped to South America. He consequently escaped the Nuremburg Trials and died a natural death in Brazil in 1979. At the time he was living under the name Wolfgang Gerhard.

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