The Angel of Death
A Surviving Symbol of Adolf Hiltlers Final Solution
A lunatic, they screamed, a mad man gone wrong! He is the almighty devil himself and hes after us ALL of us!
Those are the voices of a few of the hundreds of innocents that suffered through the endless horrors and tortures and were ultimately murdered at the hands of The Angel of Death. Who was this unthinkable animal that enjoyed power and notoriety so lustfully that he was able to slaughter hundreds while maintaining a sly smile? Doctor Josef Mengele. Motivated by strong political and family influences, this psychopath performed malicious experiments and human torture; all the while believing he was doing the world a favor.
Growing up in a family with two brothers and workaholic parents, Josef Mengele had to compete for attention. This boy, born in Germany on March 16th of 1911, developed a craving to be heard and for fame at a very young age. His parents were often distant and cold to him1. Mengeles mother, Walburga, was known to be warm and maternal, or she could behave like a raging bull.2 Workers in their family company feared her terrible temper. To young Mengele, his mother was incapable of loving.3 However, he was still a dashing young lad with an exuberant soul and intelligent mind. He soon found the warmth of a mother in his nanny, Monika, a devout Catholic who never let Mengele question the faith; leading him to believe that all non-Catholics were wrong and evil.
Mengele grew up in Germany at the time right before and during World War I. Children, like Mengele, were taught nationalistic ideas everywhere; in school, church, youth group, family, and the media. The rulers of the German Empire believed they could be leaders of the world, viewing nationalism and down with the Jews and up with the Aryan race as very important issues. This was what had led them into WWI. Social Darwinism also had a critical impact on Mengeles childhood: the strong shall survive, as the weak must perish. An impression of Germans superiority dominated in every growing childs head.
As a growing teenager, Mengele proved to be a very exceptional person. He was often praised by teachers for his self-discipline and control. He was very charming, confident, and handsome. Mengeles favorite courses at school included zoology, physics, and biology. And his favorite subject was anthropology, the study of humans. Graduating in 1930 and wanting a name for himself, Mengele strutted away from the family business and looked into medicine.
After a few years of hard work and dedication, Josef Mengele was offered a position as a research assistant with the third Reichs Institute for Heredity Biology and Race Research, which specialized in racial studies, in 1937. It was in this institute that Mengele first met the man that would later change his life, the most acclaimed racial scientist of his day,4 professor Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer. Verschuer was a strong supporter of Hitler; his goal was to somehow unlock the secrets of genetic engineering and find a way to create the Germanic super-race. It was under this man that the 26 year old Mengele learned that it was tolerable to experiment on human beings if it was for the good of science. It wasnt long before Mengele looked up to Verschuer, whom he was attracted to as the fatherly figure he never had. 5
Strongly influenced by the professor, Mengele joined the Nazi Party and immediately applied for the highest group of the society, the SS (Schutzstaffel). This was a protection squad that controlled Germanys racial purity and strictly followed Nazi beliefs. When WWII began two years later, Mengele was drafted and served as a soldier. Besides just fighting on the battlefield, he was able to practice medicine and make swift decisions as to which of the sick would not be treated due to lack of time and medical supplies. Mengele was awarded many medals during his service including the First Class, Second Class, and two Iron Crosses, for bravery and courage. Later, wounded on the battlefield, Mengele was sent back to Berlin to do deskwork, far from where he yearned to be: inside a laboratory. 6
Meanwhile, rumors were spreading that exciting researches were taking place in some of the concentration camps set up for the Final Solution (the plan to kill all the Jews of Europe). There were Nazi doctors who infected captives with virus in hope to treat them with serums. The widest range of medical possibilities were given at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. With the help of his mentor Verschuer, Mengele found a spot as an SS doctor at the largest concentration camp in Germany: Auschwitz; where ten thousand prisoners arrive each day.
Dr. Mengeles life was consumed by Auschwitz. He was the Lord of life or death.7 From a few seconds long glare, this man would determine the future of each soul that arrived at Auschwitz, a process called Selektionen. Always neatly dressed in a perfectly made SS uniform, white gloves, and a soldiers cap, Mengele would say, links oder rechts, to every starved person who made the horrendous cattle stock journey to Auschwitz; to the left meant the gas chamber, and to the right was the entrance to the heinous labor camp.
Taking advantage of all these useless people and keeping his goal of unlocking the secrets of genetic engineering in mind, Mengele had many interests in those who were genetically unusual. Among his passions for people with abnormalities and different eye colors, Dr. Mengele gleamed with happiness as he laid eyes on twins. Twins, twins, out! SS soldiers would yell, pointing at twins to step out of selection lines. Mengele was especially interested in twins because he believed he could unlock the secrets to perfect multiple births while also being able to conduct experiments with a perfect control.
All of the lucky selected victims were placed in special barracks that was called the Zoo. These children were spared from certain abuses such as beatings and punishments and selections, merely to keep them healthy for experimenting. They were allowed to keep their hair and clothes, unlike the rest, labeling them as Mengeles Children. 8 They were also provided extra rations of food and milk. Every so often, Mengele would treat his children with candy and clothes, but only to deceive them to their gruesome end. And to these naive kids, he became known as Uncle Mengele.
The line between science and quackery was not a very fine one at Auschwitz. Mengeles experiments, although ostensibly performed in the name of scientific truth, followed few scientific principles.9 Blood samples from twins were drawn daily and sent to Professor von Verschuer for a grant to study specific proteins. Many children, especially the youngest ones, suffered greatly. Those whose arms and hands were too small had blood taken from their necks; a both very painful and dangerous procedure. Mengele often traded blood samples between twins of different blood types. Organ switching between sets of twins was also popular, as well as deliberate infection and poisoning to one twin while keeping the other healthy. Mengele believed with all his heart that if he could only perform enough experiments, he could be known as the greatest scientist who ever lived. In addition to these experiments, Mengele was also noted to perform sex change operations and incestuous impregnations. Sadly, no one will ever know for sure what he tried to prove.
Wanting to create a perfect Aryan race with blue eyes and blond hair, eye studies and hair color were also important to Mengele. He and his assistants would insert different chemicals such as ethylene blue in the eyes to see if the natural shade of the iris would change. This was done sometimes by eye drop, other times by needle, often leaving twins blinded; one was even noted to have died. And if these lab rats didnt already suffer and die from the vicious testing, they were killed either by chloroform injected into their hearts or by gas. But still, these children couldnt rest in peace. They were cut up like pork with their eyes gouged out and their bodies probed. Whatever way one looks at it, the death of the children was always the secret intention of Mengele.
When the Doctor came across victims with physical abnormalities, they were immediately shot and their bodies taken into Mengeles lab and later sent off to Verschuer for more studies. Mengele believed that he and the Nazi organization were doing what was right for the German people. It was necessary for the good of the Aryan Race. Other unthinkable experiments the Doctor conducted on frail bodies included the following: the castration of men and boys without anesthetics, inflicting women with high-voltage shocks to test their endurance, and sterilizing girls with x-ray machines until they ended up with painful burns.
In addition to the many activities he conducted, Mengele was also known for having rows of women standing nude in front of him to answer sexual questions. This, of course, supposedly allowed him to see if the women were fit to live or not. But it was evident that he lusted after them, though it was forbidden.10 There was a beautiful fifteen-year-old Jew by the name of Ibi who Mengele found himself absolutely attracted to during inspection. 11 Becuase he couldnt show his feelings towards Jews, Ibi was sent to Block 10, where malicious experiments were performed on her and others, turning them into old shriveled bags of bones after only a few weeks. 12
Mengele was astonishing at Auschwitz; he seemed to be here, there, and everywhere at once. He greeted the new inmates, signed death certificates, worked on experiments, gassed people, did daily selections, and yet still had time to play with the kids. It wasnt until the end of 1944, when the Germans were losing the war that Mengeles experiments came to a halt. More than 40 pairs of twins survived the Holocaust and the Doctors evil testings. On the day of the final roll call on January 17, 1945, Mengele escaped with all of his medical papers and started a new life in different places with the help of generous friends. Being charged with several crimes against humanity (including selections, lethal injections, beatings, shootings, and other killings), Mengele was never persecuted as the atrocious and vile mass murderer he was.
On June 15th, American troops captured more than ten thousand German soldiers, including Mengele. However, during questioning Mengele wasnt identified as an SS member because he didnt have the official tattoo that all members were branded with for he didnt want to harm his perfect Aryan skin. 13 Also, at the time, the Americans had not received the wanted list of Josef Mengele, therefore werent able to identify the Doctor.
As a child, Mengele often boasted that one day his name would appear in the encyclopedia, and ironically it is, only to be listed as a surviving symbol of Adolf Hitlers Final Solution,14 marked by unspeakable horrors and unnatural acts. This untamed monster grew up in a society filled with hatred and high egos that discriminated against everyone but themselves. The corrupt society allowed this animal to annihilate hundreds of innocent people daily and to conduct malevolent tests on poor victims without the slightest twinge of guilt, all because society, namely the Germans, approved in the name of science. But in reality, all Mengele was really doing was exercising his power, never for real scientific research. Mengele did what he was told; to uphold the Nazi Supremacy.
Endnotes and Bibliography
Written: May 2nd, 2003