rmany. Josef’s parents were devout Catholics, and saw to it that he and his two brothers were raised accordingly.
Mengele had always dreamed of a career in science and anthropology. In 1930, he graduated from high school and was accepted to the University of Munich. Munich is the capital of Bavaria, and was at that time the center of the National Socialist movement. It was while studying in Munich that Mengele was swept up by the nationalistic ideology of the Nazis.
Although Mengele studied medicine in Munich, it took a back seat to eugenics. Eugenics is the study of genetics. He was interested in discovering the sources of human physical deformities.
Mengele received his Ph.D. in 1935. He began working at a university medical clinic in Leipzig in 1936. Mengele was accepted into the Schutzstaffel, or “Elite Guard”, in 1938. His membership in the SS gave him great power.
Mengele was assigned to Auschwitz in 1943. His stated mission there was to perform research on human genetics. His real goal, however, was to eradicate inferior gene strands from the human population in order to create a German super-race.
Witnesses at Auschwitz say that Mengele’s selections, in which he decided who was to live and who was to die, seemed to provide enjoyment to him. It has also been said that he had no conscience. He could brutally beat a prisoner one-minute and then be in a cheerful mood the next.
What earned Mengele his nickname, “The Angel of Death,” wasn’t his selections or beatings. It was his inhuman experiments. He dissected live infants. He castrated men and boys without anesthetic. He administered high-voltage shocks to women in order to “test their endurance.” These are only a few examples of the many cruel and disgusting experiments he performed in the name of science.
Some psychiatrists believe that Mengele didn’t take pleasure in inflicting pain. Rather he enjoyed the power in deciding who died and when.
Mengele’s favorite “specimens” were twins. He was fascinated by twins, and he treated them very well. He gave the guards specific orders not to abuse them. They enjoyed extra rations, better clothing, and better living conditions. They were called “Mengele’s children.” This does not mean, however, that they were spared.
It is ironic that the twins he cared for so much bore the brunt of his experiments. In order to determine if eye color could be changed, he injected dye into the twins’ eyes. This often caused blindness. If these twins died, he collected their eyes and pinned them to the wall of his office.
Other twins had limbs removed without anesthetic. Still others were injected with infectious chemicals to see how long it would take their bodies to succumb to various diseases.
Mengele’s experimentation had nothing to do with true scientific research. Rather it was his ambitious and zealous adherence to the Nazi vision of Aryan supremacy. And ironically, it yielded no new discoveries in the field of genetics.
Mengele escaped from Auschwitz in 1945 as the Red Army closed in. He made his way to Argentina. The Israeli government was actively hunting for Nazis in South America into the 1970’s. They successfully captured Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the “Final Solution.” They had no such luck in their search for Mengele, however. He drowned in Brazil in 1979.