Josef Mengele, born on March 16, 1911 in a small town in Germany called Gunzburg. His parents were Karl and Walburga. Mengele was the second son of a well to do Bavarian industrialist whose family still runs an implement factory in Germany. Shortly after Josef’s birth, his family became wealthy because his father became sole owner of a factory that made farm equipment. The business prospered and his family became the most powerful family in town.
While Mengele was growing up, his parents were frequently absent. They were always tending to the family business . As a child, he expressed his desire to stand out from other members of his quarrelsome family and become successful on his own; And away from the family.
As a teenager in 1930 , Mengele completed high school and left to study medicine at Munich University in Germany. Mengele was an excellent student, his favorite subject was anthropology, the study of the origin development and behavior of humankind. In his teens, he became a member of a patriotic young peoples group, and abandoned the Catholic church.
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At that time, Adolf Hitler was stirring up the Bavarian people with his highly patriotic, anti Jewish ideas. He attracted large crowds with his enthusiasm to his hate filled speeches. Hitler would shout accusations against the Jews, blaming them for Germany’s humiliating loss of World War I And charging them with holding Germany back from becoming a world power. As a result, Hitler’s followers sometimes attacked and humiliated innocent Jews in the street. However Mengele did not join Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party, but instead he became a member of a youth group that marched in military style uniforms at public events. By 1938, Mengele received his medical degree and became friends with people high in the Nazi Party. Mengele, married Irene and five weeks later World War II (1939-1945) began when Germany invaded Poland. He continued his genetic research, completed basic training for the military, and joined the German army in 1940.
While placed in the reserve medical corps, Mengele served 3 years with the Waffen SS unit. During this time period he was wounded and declared medically unfit for combat. Mengele was promoted to rank of captain. He arrived at camp somewhat privileged position. He was wounded on the Eastern Front and was a recipient of an array of medals. For example Mengele earned the Iron cross for rescuing two wounded soldiers form under a burning tank.
Towards the end of 1942 Mengele was sent to Berlin, Germany’s capital headquarters of the Nazi Party. In May 1943,Mengele became the senior Doctor in the women’s section of Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. Auschwitz offered Mengele unlimited number of specimens where twins could be studied randomly.
As the only Doctor who had fought in combat, Mengele liked to wear his Iron Cross and other decorations on his uniforms. Mengele was known to be efficient, as well as cruel and cynical. Jews and other prisoners arrived at Auschwitz by train. Mengele was described as a very attractive man, always well groomed. He wore immaculately clean uniforms and boots that were high polish. The staff physicians would greet the Jews and separate those who would be gassed to death immediately and those who would be used for slave labor. Mengele would point with his cane at each person and direct them with one word either “Right” or “Left”.
In 1944 twins were selected and placed in separate barracks. To Mengele, twins were priceless things, and he came to their rescue form being sent to the gas chamber. According to Dr. Miklos Nyiszli in Auschwitz: “A Doctors Eyewitness Account”, “Twins provided the perfect experimental specimens. One could serve as a control while the other endured the experiments.” “Being on Mengeles list was better than being on no list,” said Eva Moses Kor. A women who was experimented on by Dr. Mengele who survived to tell her story. The twins were fed good food and were provided with clean clothes and comfortable living conditions.
Mengele’s experiments began after the twins were strengthened, and all parts of their bodies were measured and described minutely. He and his assistant the performed crude surgery on them including amputations. They deliberately infected twins with diseases so that Doctors could observe their reactions. On one night alone, Mengele used injections to kill 14 children for these bizarre purposes. After their deaths he examined and compared their internal organs. Mengele also performed experiments on prisoners using electricity and radiation and other methods.
No remorse was shown while he performed these ghastly and in humane actions according to Rolf, Mengele’s son. Mengele never expressed any feelings of shame or regret. Witnesses tell of watching him shoot prisoners and strike them with a bar and even burn children alive. He was said to have an explosive temper. Mengele was and still is known as the ‘’Angel of Death.’’
As the end of the war approached and Nazi’s faced defeat. Menegele became depressed. He still continued with his horrible experiments. He then finally left Auschwitz for good on January 17, 1945, taking along records of experiments on Roma, twins and deformed people .Afterwards the SS was ordered to destroy all remaining records and to shoot any prisoners who were unable to walk unassisted. From then on Mengele moved forward towards other camps. After hiding his files with a friend, he was captured along with his medical unit in Bavaria by the U. S forces. Because of their large number of prisoners were processed quickly, and as for Mengele he who was lucky enough to remain unidentified, even though he was listed as a major criminal by the United Nations War Crimes Commission. He was able to obtain a duplicate set of release papers in another name.
Once Mengele arrived home to Gunzburg, Germany his hometown, a number of locals protected him, believing that the stories told about his gruesome work were just rumors spread by the enemy’s. He then worked as a farmer. During this time he would meet his wife secretly at a vacation resort.
By 1948 Mengele had become convinced that being captured in Germany by the Allies would mean certain death. With fundings from his family’s successful business he made plans to escape to Argentina to begin a new life using a false name. Irene his wife, wished not to leave Europe and the people she loved, she refused and shortly after the couple divorced. He then bribed officials and escaped to Buenos Aires, Argentina, on a ship. He then moved to a nice house and bought an automobile.
1956 Mengele returned to Germany and met his deceased brothers wife Martha who he married in July of 1958 and became the stepfather to her son Karl Heinz. He and Martha then left once again to South America. His comfortable life in Buenos Aires soon came to an end when local police began an exhaustive search for him. He then was being harbored by friends. Overtime many of his friends found out his true identity and who he was, but chose not to turn him over to authorities. He still then kept in contact with Martha and Karl, whom he was very close with. After a while, Mengele’s family in Germany lowered their amount of living funds that they provided for his support and he had to live a very reduced lifestyle. In 1978 Mengele fled to Brazil and once again fell in love with his house made this time. Elsa Gulpaian de Oliverira, She did his cooking and cleaning, while he tried to introduce her to some of the finer things in life, she then turned down his offer.
Near the end of his life Mengele was depressed and anxious, and now longed for his childhood home in Germany. He suffered from high blood pressure, the effects of a stroke, degenerative spinal disease, and other illnesses. On February 7,1979 he went for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean. While swimming he suffered another stroke, and although the efforts of a young friend to save him he drowned himself. Mengele was buried in the town of Bertioga. His friends and family in Germany, not wishing for further publicity kept his death a secret.
Why I chose this subject is because I like learning about the holocaust. I think that learning about the holocaust is something that shall never be forgotten and always remembered. I learned a lot about the experiments that Mengele and how he treated his patients. I also learned that the Jews that had been experimented on who lived to tell there story didn’t really think Josef Mengele was a bad person at the time because he treated the kids so well. The twins that survived, and who are still alive. He gave them chocolates on some occasions and he would play with them. That is why they considered him a nice man at the time even though he is considered a horrible man. Mengele was responsible for many peoples life, and while he was hiding out in South America he was wanted for Millions of dollars from the U.S.