Josef Mengele

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SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr. phil. Dr. med. Josef Mengele

Josef Rudolf Mengele (16 March 1911 – 7 February 1979) was a German anthropologist, physician and SS-Hauptsturmführer of the Waffen-SS at Auschwitz.

Early Years and Career

Mengele was born in Günzburg, Bavaria, eldest of three sons of Karl Mengele. He had two younger brothers, Karl (1912–1949) and Alois (1914–1974). In 1930, Mengele left "Günzburg gymnasium" (high school). He studied medicine and anthropology at the University of Munich, earning a doctorate in Anthropology (Ph.D.), supervised by Prof. Theodor Mollison, in 1935 with a dissertation on racial differences in the structure of the lower jaw. He worked as an assistant to Otmar von Verschuer at the Frankfurt University Institute of Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene. In 1938, he obtained a doctorate in medicine (M.D.) with a dissertation called "Familial Research on cleft lip and palate and Jaw." His belief in the German racial ideology was already evident in his academic research. The Universities of Munich and Frankfurt revoked his degrees in 1964.

In 1931, at the age of 20, Mengele joined the Stahlhelm-Bund, a paramilitary organization, which was incorporated into the SA in 1933. He resigned shortly thereafter, alluding to health problems. He applied for National Socialist party membership in 1937 and in 1938 joined the Allgemeine SS. In 1939, Mengele married his first wife, Irene Schönbein, with whom he had one child, a son named Rolf.

In 1940 he was placed in the reserve medical corps, following which he served with the 5th SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking. In 1942 he was wounded at the Russian front and was pronounced medically unfit for combat, and promoted to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain). During his service on the Eastern Front during 1941-1942, Mengele received the Iron Cross, both first class and second class, the Wound Badge in black, and the Eastern Front Medal.

After having served on the eastern front, he became doctor of Auschwitz-Birkenau. First, he was at the gipsy-camp (B II e), from the fall of 1944 chief doctor of the hospital sector (B II f). His special interest was the come into existence and behaiviour of twins. He worked for 2 years in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Short before the Red Army captured Auschwitz-Birkenau, he escaped on 17 January 1945. He lived in a shelter of the Wehrmacht using a different name. American terrorists gave him the name "Angel of death". In summer 1945 he returned to Günzburg, his native town, in fall he moved to Mangolding, Bavaria, using the name Fritz Hollmann.

Mengele in South America

April 1949 he went to Genova using the name Helmut Gregor, on 20. June he went to Buenos Aires on the steamer North King. He lived here until the end of the 1950's years.

In Buenos Aires, Mengele at first worked as a construction worker, but came in contact with influential Germans soon, which allowed him an affluent lifestyle for the next years. He also got money from his family and from Sedlmeier. In Buenos Aires, he got to know other Germans such as Hans-Ulrich Rudel and Adolf Eichmann. In 1955, he bought a fifty per cent share of a pharmaceutical company, the same year he divorced from his wife, Irene. Three years later he married Martha Mengele, the widow of his younger brother Karl Jr.; she then went to Argentina with her then fourteen-year-old son, Dieter. Mengele lived with his family in a German owned boardinghouse in the Buenos Aires suburb of Vicente Lopez from 1958 to 1960.

International Jewry offered 7 million Marks blood fine for his capture, the highest ever.

Although he was doing well in South America, Mengele feared being captured, especially after the Eichman case, so he left Argentina in 1960 and moved to Paraguay after managing to get a Paraguayan passport on the name "Mengele José". Mengele escaped to Paraguay from Argentina weeks before the May 1960 Israeli Mossad operation that kidnapped and abducted Adolf Eichmann. Mengele was a secondary objective of this operation, but was never found. Mengele hoped that Paraguay would be safer for him, as dictator Alfredo Stroessner was of German descent. Among other locations in Paraguay, he lived on the outskirts of Hohenau, a German colony north of Encarnacion in the department of Itapúa. His anxiety, however, haunted him, especially after he heard of the Mossad's abduction of Eichmann and the trial and execution in Israel. Using the identity of "Peter Hochbichler", he crossed the border to Brazil in 1960 and lived in São Paulo with the Austrian-born Wolfgang Gerhard, who was a member of Hans-Ulrich Rudel's "Kameradenwerk."

Mengele has an illegitimate daughter born to an Australian woman of German lineage after a liaison between the two; when the woman, aged 23, and her mother and brother visited a German colony in Paraguay in mid-1960. The child was born in Melbourne, Australia on March 10, 1961. She was adopted privately.

The same year, Mengele moved to Nova Europa, about three hundred kilometres (186 miles) outside São Paulo, where he lived with the Hungarian refugees Geza and Gitta Stammer, working as manager of their farm. In the seclusion of his Brazilian hideaway, Mengele became depressed, egomaniacal and aggressive, always fearing being captured. In 1974, when his relationship with the Stammer family was coming to an end, Rudel and Gerhard discussed relocating Mengele to Bolivia where he could spend time with Klaus Barbie, but Mengele rejected this proposal. Instead, he lived in a bungalow in a suburb of São Paulo for the last years of his life. In 1977, his only son Rolf, never having known his father before, visited him there and found an unrepentant man who claimed he "had never personally harmed anyone in his whole life."

Mengele, whose health had deteriorated for years, died on February 7, 1979, in Bertioga, Brazil, where he accidentally drowned or, in another version, suffered a stroke while swimming in the sea. He was buried in Embu das Artes under the name "Wolfgang Gerhard," whose ID-card he had used since 1976.

Mengele and the Holocaust

Mengele is notorious for at Auschwitz allegedly being involved in the Holocaust, such as by being prominently involved in the selections regarding who would be gassed immediately on arrival and who would be used as forced laborers. He is also alleged to have been involved in various horrible human experiments on the prisoners. He is a very frequently recurring character in the claims of Holocaust "witnesses".

During the postwar period, to his son and in private writings, Mengele rejected that he had been involved in atrocities, and stated that he had instead saved many lives at Auschwitz.[1]

Awards and decorations

See also

  • Miklós Nyiszli - Mengele's assistant, who has been argued to be the most important source for the politically correct view on what Mengele is alleged to have done at Auschwitz.
  • More generally regarding alleged Holocaust camp experiments on prisoners, see the article on this topic.

External links


Article archives

Note that besides the external sources listed here, an alleged Holocaust confessor/witness may be extensively discussed in the external sources listed in the articles on the particular Holocaust camps and/or other Holocaust phenomena the individual is associated with.


  1. Re: / Tim O'Neill: Nazis never denied 'holocaust'