Dr. Josef Mengele: Angel of Death—or Reprieve?

Published: 2021-01-04

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Josef Mengele (1911-1979) is famous for his alleged participation in the selection of prisoners to be executed in alleged homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau. American historian David Marwell writes: “Mengele himself admitted this activity to a number of people, including his son, and there is absolutely no question about his culpability.”[1] Mengele is also known as a nightmarish medical doctor whose research at Auschwitz has flooded our common vocabulary with superlatives depicting evil and depravity.[2]

With the exceptions of Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, no man has been so vilified as the personification of Nazi evil as Dr. Mengele.[3] This article disputes this widely held image of Mengele.

Early Career

Josef Mengele was born into a conservative and conventional Catholic family in Günzburg, Germany. As a young man he was intelligent, studious and popular. Mengele joined the Greater German Youth League in 1924, becoming the leader of its Günzburg chapter from 1927 until he left the organization in 1930. After graduating from the Humanistische Gymnasium in Günzburg, Mengele left home in April 1930 to attend the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.[4]

Mengele began the study of medicine and its related disciplines of human genetics and anthropology. It was common for German students to study at a number of universities, and Mengele would matriculate at five different universities before he was finished with his studies. On August 12, 1932, after completing his fifth semester of the study of medicine, Mengele passed the preliminary medical examination, which tested him in six subjects (anatomy, physiology, physics, chemistry, zoology and botany).[5]

In the fall of 1933, in addition to medicine, Mengele began to study anthropology under the prominent anthropologist Theodor Mollison. Mengele was eventually awarded a doctor of philosophy degree, summa cum laude, on November 13, 1935. He continued his medical studies and successfully passed the state examination in medicine in the summer of 1936. Mengele then completed his one-year practicum, equivalent to an internship in the United States, at the University Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt.[6]

Mengele was hired by this Frankfurt Institute in 1937 to conduct scholarly research and publishing of it. Mengele also applied for membership in the National-Socialist Party. He became a member of the National-Socialist Party in May 1938, and joined the SS around this time. While at the Frankfurt Institute, Mengele rendered numerous professional judgments about individuals’ racial origins and “racial acceptability” in fulfillment of official requirements widely imposed by the ruling National-Socialist Party. Historian Sheila Faith Weiss determined that Mengele’s judgments were often beneficial to the person being examined, finding that individuals were not “full Jews” more than two-thirds of the time.[7]

Mengele originally was granted a deferment from military service during World War II. However, on June 15, 1940, Mengele was required to attend a military-physician training course, where he passed the junior-physician examination. Mengele became a member of the Fifth Waffen-SS Viking Division, a frontline combat unit, around the end of 1940. Mengele served as a physician on the Eastern Front, where his performance was praised by his superiors. The chief physician of his division wrote about Mengele: “Especially competent troop doctor. Promotion most warmly recommended!” Mengele received his promotion in April 1943.[8]

Mengele was wounded in combat and declared medically unfit for (further) combat.[9] After a four-month leave at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology in Berlin, Mengele entered service as a medical doctor at Auschwitz on May 30, 1943. It was from his service at Auschwitz that Mengele became known as the infamous “Angel of Death.”[10]

Selections

Along with numerous other physicians, Mengele routinely made selections of people who were capable of working from the transports of new arrivals at Auschwitz. He said his job had been to classify those “able to work” from those “unable to work.” He also said that he tried to grade as many people as possible as “able to work.” Mengele correctly denied that he had sent anyone at Auschwitz to homicidal gas chambers. Mengele repeatedly said he had never harmed anyone at Auschwitz.[11]

The forensic evidence refutes the possibility of homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Reports, articles, testimony and videos from Fred Leuchter, Walter Lüftl, Germar Rudolf, Friedrich Paul Berg, Dr. William B. Lindsey, Carlo Mattogno, John C. Ball, Richard Krege and David Cole have conclusively shown that there were no homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau during World War II. The books The Real Case for Auschwitz by Carlo Mattogno[12] and The Chemistry of Auschwitz by Germar Rudolf[13] are probably the best (least biased) books for anyone wanting to make a thorough study of this subject. They are not available from Amazon; they must be acquired directly from the publisher, Castle Hill Publishers.

The documentary evidence, which indicates that a high percentage of inmates at Birkenau were disabled, also refutes the claim that homicidal gas chambers existed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Oswald Pohl, in a secret report to Heinrich Himmler dated April 5, 1944, stated that there were 67,000 inmates in the entire Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex, of whom 18,000 were unable to work. In Birkenau there were a total of 36,000 inmates, of whom “approximately 15,000 are unable to work.”[14] Rather than sending disabled Jews to homicidal gas chambers, Mengele and other doctors at Auschwitz worked to heal and restore many thousands of inmates.[15]

Interestingly, Auschwitz veterans have attributed a superhuman work effort to Mengele in regard to the selection process. For example, at the well-publicized 1963-1965 Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, a Jewish inmate who claimed to have unloaded incoming transports insisted at the trial that Mengele alone was always there for selections. When the judge commented, “Mengele cannot have been there all the time,” the witness said: “In my opinion, always. Night and day.”[16] If Mengele had worked that hard in the selection process, he wouldn’t have had time to perform his other medical duties.

Many putative former Auschwitz inmates have also failed to accurately describe Mengele. Some have described Mengele as “very Aryan looking” or “tall and blond,” although Mengele was actually of medium height, with dark hair and a dark complexion.[17]

Twins Research      

Mengele was interested in the study of twins, especially identical twins. Twins selected for Mengele’s observation at Auschwitz were given good food, comfortable beds and hygienic living conditions to build up their health. The purpose of building up the twins’ health was to prevent infections from interfering with the results of studies. Many of the Auschwitz twins adored Mengele, affectionately calling him “Uncle Pepi.”[18]

Despite claims that Mengele performed cruel and lethal experiments on twins at Auschwitz, almost all of the twins Mengele enrolled in his research at Auschwitz survived the war. In fact, so many twins survived Mengele’s research that, in 1984, they helped form an association titled Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Experiment Survivors (CANDLE). This association’s name is a misnomer, because if the experiments were deadly, how could there be so many survivors? Also, if young children unable to work had been immediately selected for gassing at Auschwitz as claimed by “Holocaust” historians, how could so many children at Auschwitz survive the war?[19]

Carlo Mattogno has prepared a long list of children and twins at Auschwitz who survived the camp.[20] In addition to the fact that almost all of the twins at Auschwitz survived the camp, Mattogno’s research provides the following proofs that Mengele did not commit his alleged crimes against twins at Auschwitz:

1. The archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum contain numerous documents signed by Dr. Mengele, but no document attests to Dr. Mengele’s presumed crimes. No document shows that Mengele killed even one child, or that a child was ever killed on his order.

2. All of the surviving paperwork shows that Mengele’s research was limited to anthropological and behavioral studies, and did not include any surgical or other intrusive procedures.

3. The twins enrolled in Mengele’s program participated in the program for months on end, with none of them dying while under Mengele’s care.[21]

Other “Cruel Experiments”    

Mengele has also been accused of conducting cruel and inhumane experiments for no medical purpose. For example, Vera Alexander, a Jewish prisoner who lived in barracks for twins in the Gypsy Camp, testified:

One day Mengele brought chocolate and special clothes. The next day an SS man, on Mengele’s instructions, took away two children, who happened to be my favorites: Guido and Nino, aged about four. Two, perhaps three days later the SS man brought them back in a frightening condition. They had been sewn together like Siamese twins. The hunchbacked child was tied to the second one on the back and wrists. Mengele had sewn their veins together. The wounds were filthy and then festered. There was a powerful stench of gangrene. The children screamed all night long. Somehow their mother managed to get hold of morphine and put an end to their suffering.[22]

Germar Rudolf writes about this and other fanciful accounts of Mengele’s alleged cruel experiments:

There is “eyewitness” testimony galore about utterly senseless, cruel experiments allegedly performed by Mengele, like changing eye colors by injecting dye into an eye, transplanting limbs and organs to random places in the body, and other nonsense. While studying hundreds of “survivor” testimonies, I’ve come across a good share of these insults to the intellect, so insulting, indeed, that I will not waste my time listing them here. Google the net, and you’ll stumble across these Halloweenish horror stories all over the place. People evidently like to gawk at guts and gore, so the survivors, protected from scrutiny by their aura of sainthood, cater to that need. Interestingly, the alleged victims of these experiments, quite frequently the very witnesses telling these tales, show no signs whatsoever of these cruel procedures. And it goes without saying that there is not the slightest proof for any of it; no documents, no autopsies, no medical examination on survivors proving it. Nothing. It’s all a pack of lies, sweet and simple.[23]

Miklos Nyiszli  

The Jewish Hungarian physician Miklos Nyiszli published a book of memoirs shortly after World War II about his experiences at Auschwitz. These memoirs have been used by mainstream historians as the primary source of Mengele’s alleged crimes at Auschwitz. Nyiszli’s memoirs, however, contain numerous errors and weaknesses that call into question the veracity of his claims.[24]

Dr. Nyiszli said that he wrote innumerable autopsy reports and signed them with his tattoo number. These reports were signed by his superior, Dr. Mengele, and then shipped to a medical center in Berlin-Dahlem. Nyiszli also wrote that he sent countless autopsy specimens to Berlin-Dahlem, and that he received replies about them with detailed scientific commentary or instructions. Based on descriptions in his book, Nyiszli performed at least 170 autopsies while at Auschwitz. Despite these autopsy reports allegedly written and signed by Nyiszli, and the “countless” packages of autopsy specimens sent to a medical institute in Berlin-Dahlem, there is not a single piece of paper in the documentary record bearing Nyiszli’s signature.[25] 

Nyiszli also alleged in his book that, starting in August 1944, he was the doctor of the Sonderkommando for the Birkenau crematoria. The Romanian Jewish physician Charles Sigismund Bendel made the same claim at the Belsen trial in late 1945. Despite the fact that these two doctors presumably spent at least four months together in the same place, they were totally ignorant of each other. They also produced totally contradictory testimony in regard to their experiences at the Birkenau crematoria.[26]

Nyiszli made numerous false claims in his memoirs about the alleged homicidal gas chambers and crematoria at Birkenau. For example, Nyiszli wrote regarding a crematorium at Birkenau that “what is really impressive is the column of fire 8-10 meters high which gushes from its mouth between the lightning rods at its four corners.”[27] As documented by many researchers, it is physically impossible for flames to gush from the smokestacks of crematoria.  

Nyiszli wrote about the aftermath of gassings at Birkenau:

The bodies do not lie all over the length and breadth of the room but rather in a single, story-high heap. The explanation for this is that the fallen gas granules first permeate the air layer above the concrete floor with their deadly vapors and only gradually saturate the higher layers of air in the room. This forces the unfortunate victims to trample each other, to climb over one another. In the higher layers the gas thus reaches them later. What a terrible struggle for life must take place there, and yet the time won is only one or two minutes in all![28]

Nyiszli totally invented these after-gassing scenes. Since hydrocyanic vapors are lighter than air, the diffusion of gas in the gas chambers would not rise from the floor to the ceiling. The gassing victims would have no occasion to climb over one another to escape the poison gas—the contrary, if anything.[29] Nyiszli also incorrectly wrote that the crematoria were located two kilometers from the Birkenau Camp.  In reality, the crematoria were located inside the camp.[30]

The falsity of Nyiszli’s testimony is shown by the fact that he was not used as a witness at the I.G. Farben trial at Nuremberg. Charles D. Provan wrote: “Although Dr. Nyiszli was summoned to Nuremberg to testify in the I.G. Farben trial, he was not called to the stand, presumably because he was only at Monowitz for about two weeks, and could provide little in the way of useful evidence. At some point in the trial, he was released to return home to Romania.”[31]

Carlo Mattogno writes in regard to Nyiszli: “It is impossible to ascribe good faith to this ‘eyewitness,’ who was and remains a mere impostor. In consequence, the essential eyewitness testimony of Dr. Mengele’s alleged crimes at Auschwitz crumbles inexorably, and the rest of the legend along with it.”[32]

Mattogno concludes:

Dr. Mengele’s alleged crimes are not proven by any document. No document shows that Mengele ever killed even one single child, or that one single child was ever killed on his orders. The essential and sole witness, the one upon whose testimony the whole accusation was based, was an extraordinarily creative imposter. Dr. Mengele’s closest collaborators, including the presumed essential witness, and at least 543 of his “victims” were allowed to live: but how, then, are we to believe seriously in the fairy tale of the “Angel of Death” of Auschwitz?[33] 

Last Years

Mengele was not regarded as a principal war criminal immediately after World War II. After escaping from a U.S. prison camp in Bavaria, Mengele spent the next several years working under an assumed name as a farmhand in Germany. In the summer of 1949, Mengele headed for Argentina, where scores of Germans had found shelter. Since the Cold War in Europe had dampened enthusiasm for prosecuting war criminals, for a period of time in the 1950s Mengele felt safe from prosecution. Mengele even used his real name in 1958 to become co-owner of a successful pharmaceutical firm.[34]

Bowing to the pressure of world opinion, the German judiciary issued a warrant for Mengele’s arrest in July 1959, and formally applied to Argentine authorities for his extradition. Mengele escaped arrest by moving in the spring of 1960 to Paraguay and then later to Brazil. Rewards totaling over $3 million were offered for Mengele’s capture. With the Israeli secret police, Brazilian police, and numerous other Nazi hunters after him, Mengele became one of the most wanted men in the world.[35]     

Mengele’s only son, Rolf, secretly traveled to Brazil in 1977 to talk to his father about what had happened at Auschwitz during the war. Night after night Rolf asked his father about his time in Auschwitz. When Mengele had finally completed his statements, Rolf asked his father why, if he felt so sure of his innocence, he had not turned himself in? Rolf said his father replied, “There are no judges, only avengers.”[36]

Rolf said that his father stated that he was not responsible for gassings at Auschwitz, and that twins in the camp owed their lives to him. Mengele said that he personally had never harmed anyone in his life. Sensing Rolf’s incredulity, Mengele shouted at him: “Don’t tell me you, my only son, believe what they write about me? On my mother’s life I have never hurt anyone.”[37]

Eventually father and son agreed that no useful purpose would be served in pursuing their discussions further. Rolf said that, unfortunately, he realized that his father “would never express any remorse or feeling of guilt in my presence.”[38] What Rolf Mengele failed to realize is that his father felt no remorse because Mengele was not guilty of the crimes he was accused of committing at Auschwitz.

A version of this article was originally published in the November/December 2020 issue of The Barnes Review.

 

Endnotes

 

[1] Marwell, David G., Mengele: Unmasking the “Angel of Death,” New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2020, p. 64.

[2] Ibid., pp. 64-65.

[3] Weber, Mark, “Lessons of the Mengele Affair,” The Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 6, No. 3, Fall 1985, p. 377 https://codoh.com/library/document/lessons-of-the-mengele-affair/en/.

[4] Marwell, David G., Mengele: Unmasking the “Angel of Death,” New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2020, pp. 4-7.

[5] Ibid., pp. 7, 15.

[6] Ibid., pp. 17, 22-23.

[7] Ibid., pp. 31, 33, 35.

[8] Ibid., pp. 40, 45, 55-56.

[9] Lifton, Robert Jay and Amy Hackett, “Nazi Doctors,” in Gutman, Yisrael and Berenbaum, Michael, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1998, p. 311.

[10] Marwell, David G., Mengele: Unmasking the “Angel of Death,” New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2020, pp. xii, 65.

[11] Posner, Gerald L. and Ware, John, Mengele: The Complete Story, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1986, p. 279.

[12] Mattogno, Carlo, The Real Case for Auschwitz: Robert van Pelt’s Evidence from the Irving Trial Critically Reviewed, 2nd ed., Uckfield: Castle Hill Publishers, 2015 https://shop.codoh.com/book/the-real-case-for-auschwitz-en/389/.

[13] Rudolf, Germar, The Chemistry of Auschwitz: The Technology and Toxicology of Zyklon B and the Gas Chambers. A Crime-Scene Investigation, Uckfield: Castle Hill Publishers, 2017 https://shop.codoh.com/book/the-chemistry-of-auschwitz-en/449/.

[14] Nuremberg document NO-021, NMT (The “Green Series”), Vol. 5, pp. 384-385.

[15] Butz, Arthur R., The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry, Uckfield: Castle Hill Publishers, 2015, p. 356. https://shop.codoh.com/book/the-hoax-of-the-twentieth-century-en/388/

[16] Weber, Mark, “Lessons of the Mengele Affair,” The Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 6, No. 3, Fall 1985, p. 380 https://codoh.com/library/document/lessons-of-the-mengele-affair/en/.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Posner, Gerald L. and Ware, John, Mengele: The Complete Story, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1986, p. 35.

[19] Rudolf, Germar, “Josef Mengele—the Creation of a Myth,” Inconvenient History, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2017 https://inconvenienthistory.com/9/2/4609.

[20] Mattogno, Carlo and Nyiszli, Miklos, An Auschwitz Doctor’s Eyewitness Account: The Bestselling Tall Tales of Dr. Mengele’s Assistant Analyzed, Uckfield: Castle Hill Publishers, 2020, pp. 391-407. https://shop.codoh.com/book/an-auschwitz-doctors-eyewitness-account-en/467/

[21] Mattogno, Carlo, “Dr. Mengele’s ‘Medical Experiments’ on Twins in the Birkenau Gypsy Camp,” Inconvenient History, Vol. 5, No. 4, 2013 https://inconvenienthistory.com/5/4/3223.

[22] Kubica, Helena, “The Crimes of Josef Mengele,” in Gutman, Yisrael and Berenbaum, Michael, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1998, p. 324.

[23] Rudolf, Germar, “Josef Mengele—the Creation of a Myth,” Inconvenient History, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2017 https://inconvenienthistory.com/9/2/4609.

[24] Mattogno, Carlo and Nyiszli, Miklos, An Auschwitz Doctor’s Eyewitness Account: The Bestselling Tall Tales of Dr. Mengele’s Assistant Analyzed, Uckfield: Castle Hill Publishers, 2020, pp. 9-16. https://shop.codoh.com/book/an-auschwitz-doctors-eyewitness-account-en/467/

[25] Ibid., pp. 9, 12-13, 19.

[26] Ibid., pp. 13, 304-308.         

[27] Ibid., p. 22.

[28] Ibid., p. 41.

[29] Mattogno, Carlo, “Dr. Mengele’s ‘Medical Experiments’ on Twins in the Birkenau Gypsy Camp,” Inconvenient History, Vol. 5, No. 4, 2013 https://inconvenienthistory.com/5/4/3223.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Provan, Charles D., “New Light on Dr. Miklos Nyiszli and His Auschwitz Book,” The Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 20, No. 1, Jan./Feb. 2001, p. 29 https://codoh.com/library/document/new-light-on-dr-miklos-nyiszli-and-his-auschwitz/en/.

[32] Mattogno, Carlo, “Dr. Mengele’s ‘Medical Experiments’ on Twins in the Birkenau Gypsy Camp,” Inconvenient History, Vol. 5, No. 4, 2013 https://inconvenienthistory.com/5/4/3223.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Kubica, Helena, “The Crimes of Josef Mengele,” in Gutman, Yisrael and Berenbaum, Michael, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1998, pp. 329-330.

[35] Ibid., pp. 330-331.

[36] Posner, Gerald L. and Ware, John, Mengele: The Complete Story, New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1986, pp. 274, 278.

[37] Ibid., p. 279.

[38] Ibid., pp. 279-280.


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Author(s): John Wear
Title: Dr. Josef Mengele: Angel of Death—or Reprieve?
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Published: 2021-01-04
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