A Brief History
On June 6, 1985, authorities in Embu, Brazil opened the grave of a person purported to be “Wolfgang Gerhard,” in order to determine the true identity of the person buried under that name. Investigation proved the actual body to be that of Dr. Josef Mengele, in infamous Nazi doctor that terrorized innocent people at the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland during World War II, earning Mengele the terrible moniker, “The Angel of Death.”
The regime that ran Germany prior to and during World War II, known as The Third Reich, was ruled by dictator Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party, a gang of racists and nationalists that saw all people not of “pure” German heritage as worthy of being slaves or murdered to rid the world of those “non-Aryan” people. In support of this despicable view of human beings, the German regime undertook a policy of rounding up all people deemed not worthy of being loyal Germans, including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally deficient and mentally ill people, and of course, anyone that took exception to Nazi ideology or the way the regime was running things. These unfortunate individuals were often transported to various “concentration” camps where they were either systematically murdered, starved, or worked to death. One such camp was Auschwitz, located in Oświęcim, Poland.
Mengele not only earned a PhD in Philosophy, he also later earned his MD as a medical doctor as well, with a main interest in racial genetics and genetic abnormalities. Mengele subscribed to the Nazi ideology of racial superiority of the German “Aryan” people and the sub-human nature of Jews and other “non-Aryans.” He also bought into the ideas of eugenics and “racial hygiene,” with proscriptions against mixing pure Germans with “non-Aryans.” As an antisemite and racist, Mengele was a natural for the Nazi Party, which he joined in 1937, ascending to the uber-Nazi echelon of the SS a year later. In 1940, with Germany and much of the world at war, Mengele was called to service with the Wehrmacht (German army) and was assigned to the Waffen SS in a medical battalion. His service took him to the Ukraine where he was commended for bravery and was twice wounded, the second wound leaving him unfit for duty with the combat branch of the service.
Mengele ended up at Auschwitz II, a camp at Birkenau, where he served in various roles, including the selection of prisoners for execution, administering the poison gas used to murder mass quantities of prisoners, and worst of all, quasi-medical experiments on inmates as if those people were some sort of lab rat or other undesirable animal unworthy of humane care and consideration. As Nazi doctors did not tend to the health of prisoners/inmates, Mengele instead oversaw the work of the doctors from among the imprisoned masses.
Assuming an outward personality of a happy, jovial German content with this work, Mengele conducted horrific experiments on human subjects without the decency of providing proper medical care, anesthesia or other humane considerations. Dwarves, twins, and those with physical abnormalities were all subject to Mengele’s “research,” which amounted to torture and murder. Josef did not show any regret about his cruelty at the time in Auschwitz, and according to his son, he never did develop any sort of remorse for his abominable behavior. Without going into specific detail of the terrible “experiments” of Dr. Mengele, we can cite one example, that of trying to change the eye color of people through idiotic means such as the injection of dyes into the eyeballs of the hapless subjects. The subject of eye color even led this monster to remove the eyes from living subjects to be sent to Berlin for study!
Mengele left Auschwitz ahead of the Soviet liberation of the camp in 1945, eventually being captured by the Americans, though the Americans did not realize they had a serious war criminal in custody in the person of Josef Mengele. Mengele managed to change his identity and escape to South America (as did many other Nazis) before the Allied authorities could figure out who he was and prosecute him for war crimes. His wife refused to accompany him, and they eventually divorced after Mengele went to Argentina.
Mengele was aided by fellow Nazi escapees as well as Nazi sympathizers among the South Americans, and even unwittingly through regular government channels, such as receiving a passport from the West German embassy under an alias. While Nazi hunters and the Israeli Mossad (there secret service) searched for Mengele, he somehow remained out of their reach over the years until he died in 1979, drowning after suffering a stroke while swimming in Brazil. Mengele was 67 years old when he died. Another Nazi war criminal had cheated the hangman, with Mengele buried under the alias, Wolfgang Gerhard.
Investigators continued to chase leads about the whereabouts and false identities of Mengele, until finally the clues led to the exhumation in Embu that proved that Josef Mengele had finally been found, though too late for justice to be served and with nobody to claim the $100,000 reward offered for his arrest. The identity of the body as Josef Mengele was confirmed by Mengele’s son, Rolf. Anyone foolish enough to look upon the Nazi era with any sort of fondness needs to study monsters such as Josef Mengele to understand the ultimate depravity of Naziism and the evil it entailed.
Question for students (and subscribers): Who do you believe was the worst of the Nazi war criminals? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Maxwell, David. Mengele: Unmasking the “Angel of Death”. W. W. Norton & Company, 2021.
Revell, Anna. JOSEF MENGELE: ANGEL OF DEATH: A Biography of Nazi Evil. Kindle, 2018.
The featured image in this article, two 47-year-old photos blended with photo images of the skull suspected to be that of the notorious “Angel of Death,” is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.