Josef Mengele was born in Günzburg , Bavaria , in 1911. He studied medicine at the Universities of Munich and Bonn from 1929 to 1932. He passed his examinations to become a doctor in 1932, and before he continued his medical studies he studied anthropology in Vienna and Munich.
He practiced as a doctor during World War II in the Auschwitz concentration camp that was in Poland , where more than one million prisoners – mostly Jews 1 – were executed.
Although Josef Mengele was a well-known Nazi torturer during World War II , his contributions to science are of great relevance for the knowledge of the etiology of many genetic malformations.
Much of the final results he obtained from his genetic experiments were thanks to torture and human rights violations with part of the internees (a name given to Jews in Nazi concentration camps without any professional ethics he ought to have Every doctor who signs up must take the Hippocratic oath, which refers to the care of the other person, to deliver health, care and maximum care in the disease.
Beginning as a doctor
In 1935, he passed the doctorate, held in Munich , presenting the thesis on classical physical anthropology, emphasizing the morphology of the anterior mandible in four different racial groups.
Mengele’s thesis assistant, Theodor Mollison (director of the Anthropological Institute of the University of Munich), was one of the main leaders in the race cleaning in the Third Reich (also called, Great German Empire).
Mangele, for his part, was well acquainted with this subject of the race’s cleansing, and was in agreement with Mollison’s position. Together they created and developed a serological test of breeds, using a method based on a precipitation reaction .
Beginnings of his investigations
In 1936, Mengele passed his examinations and medical knowledge and achieved approval as Physicist in 1937. In the same year, after four months of internship at the University of Clinic in Leipzig, he joined as an assistant at the Verschuer’s Frankfurt Institute In the research of Genetic Biology and Hygiene of race. At that moment was when he received his second doctorate with the thesis of “Family examination in cases of cleft lip, maxillary cleft and cleft palate”
Thesis “Family examination in cases of cleft lip, maxillary cleft and cleft palate”
Josef Mengele, took as a sample 17 children with palatine cleft, maxillary cleft or cleft palate who had undergone surgery at the Surgery Clinic of the University of Frankfurt / Main between 1925 and 1935.
For those 17 children, Mengele fabricated a “family table” , something like a family tree, which could include a total of 1222 members of the clan of the aforementioned table, of which 583 people were visited by the same Mengele , The rest, went to his local office.
The genetic evaluation of the pedigree tree, as Mengele mentioned it, made it possible to recognize an irregular and individual hereditary predisposition through which the manifestation of this condition can be deduced that comes from other disorders of human development. Mengele mentioned other conditions that appeared in the family clan, such as spina bifida, malformation in the extremities and non-closure of cranial bones.
It also established the frequency of occurrence in the examined families of simple forms of fissures in the area of the lips, the jaw and the palate, which showed a great variation of manifestations of the genes.
Josef’s work made a great contribution to the clarification of the dispute over the relationship of genes with the appearance of cleft lip, mandibular cleft or palatine. Through which, the evidence of variations that manifested, fit perfectly with studies that currently exist.
On the other hand, the research was performed in a location where there was no significant development of genetic malformations, in which a certain state of embryonic development remained intact. This stopping the development of fetal malformations was what attracted the attention and it became more interesting to try to understand this phenogenic condition (of the appearance of cleft lip malformations, palatine and mandibular fissures).
Until 1941, Mengele published a series of small scientific papers and reviews of Verschuer’s research.
Josef specialized in the study of twins. For him, it was the easiest way to study and be able to determine the heritability of most conditions that caused malformations, whether phenotypic or genotypic. All this knowledge gained from his successful studies led him to perform human genetic experiments, which were related to the brutal abuse and violation of human rights as “racial hygiene” that was experienced during the Nazi regime .
Josef was recognized as a researcher who studied twins at the Institute for Biology of heredity and racial hygiene in Frankfurt.
There are witnesses who say that one of the few times that Josef Mengele was seen far from his facet of cold person was when he found twins during the selection of people. One of his lab assistants, Miklos Nyiszli, said that Mengele was obsessed with the conviction that he had found the cause of multiple births and births. Knowing this cause, he was determined to multiply the Aryan Race by causing multiple pregnancies.
Mengele’s twins were grouped in separate barracks and separated from each other, where they had access to better food and conditions to maintain and / or improve their health and to carry out their experiments in a better way.
During the experiments, they were moored so that they could “quietly” investigate their bodies and eyes. They injected different types of chemicals with different intentions and underwent surgery without anesthesia. Also, Mengele infected the twins with Typhus to observe the different reactions that they had between them.
There were unnecessary amputations, lumbar punctures, injections infected with typhus, and deliberately infected wounds to compare the reaction of each twin. He even sewed two children back to back forming a kind of Siamese twins, whose wounds became infected and gangrenated. Blood transfusions of different types were common to study the reactions that occurred. 2
Mengele also killed twins simply to experiment and study the simultaneous deaths. His preferred method were deaths caused by injections of chloroform directly into the heart. All this was done simply to study genetics, “To establish the supremacy of” blood “as the determinant of desirable characteristics in a human being” 3
There are no major achievements on all types of experiments performed by Mengele or were performed under his orders, since the reports he made with each of them were sent to Dr. Von Verschuer to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology in two trucks And then destroyed. Apart from the reports, Mengele also sent organs, human parts or whole bodies that had some particularity to be part of anthropological studies; Hence its great contribution to future research.
Experiments with mustard gas
This experiment was carried out in order to find the best way to cure wounds caused by mustard gas . The vast majority of wounds caused by this gas became infected. It should be noted that mustard gas has mutagenic and carcinogenic properties and the wounds it causes are healed very slowly and are extremely painful, often leaving irreparable damage 4
This experiment was performed to find out the most effective way to treat this disease. Mengele as doctor, he is informed that there is an outbreak of Typhus in the barracks of the women of the concentration camp. Finally, it ends the epidemic by sending infected people to the gas chambers. It is praised for its successful outcome of the eradication of typhus transmission.
It was done in order to investigate the limits of human resistance at extreme heights. The victims were placed in low-pressure chambers, and after that, the simulated altitude there was rising. Many people died during this experiment, others were severely damaged.
Experiments with sulfamide
It was done to inquire about the effectiveness that this medicine had, since it was known at the time to be the “miracle drug.” Most of the wounds that victims had for various reasons became infected with bacteria such as Streptococcus , Tetanus , gangrene, etc. They cut the blood circulation by tying the blood vessels at both ends of the wound to make a type of infected field. They then worsened the condition of the infection by putting wood chips and ground glass in the wounds. After each procedure, an attempt was made to further aggravate the condition of the wound. Subsequently they were treated with sulfamide to determine their effectiveness in infections. This series of experiments resulted in very serious infections and several deaths. 5
Experiment of starvation until death
There are no major reports on this experiment, however, there is the testimony of a prisoner, Ruth Eliaz, who after giving birth at Auschwitz, Mengele gave the order to have her breasts tied so she could not breastfeed her son. In order to carry out a study on how long the infants could live without food, the baby could survive 7 days. 6
Change of eye color
Mengele injected chemicals into his eyes – mostly children – to try to change their color. Many times this resulted in infections and blindness. After the victim of experimentation died, he would take their eyes and put them as a kind of trophy in his office.
Mengele was always interested in genetic malformations (hence his thesis). At the time of the selection of people, all those who had a physical anomaly, such as the dwarves, were “saved” from going to the gas chamber to be killed. An experiment with dwarves was to force one of them to have sex with a gypsy woman who had syphilis to observe how long it took to get this disease.
Ovitz family is a family of 7 dwarfs (pseudoacondroplasia) who arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Mengele, for his fascination with genetic defects and being more difficult to find than the twins, for example, created a special place for them, separated from his other victims, with better conditions, better food. They underwent several experiments, such as the extraction of spinal cord and teeth to study their genetic material and its relation to hereditary diseases. The most common thing he did was remove blood until they fainted, once they woke up, continued to draw blood. They were constantly subjected to X-rays . The family suffered more torture and psychological than physical experimentation. Finally everyone survived.
Labor during World War II
The beginning of World War II interrupted Mengele’s scientific career at that time. He was a member of the SS and was part of the military infantry mountain squadron. He was then transferred to the Waffen S (SS elite combat body), where he was eventually part of the ” Wiking SS “, which was part of the Waffen-SS but largely foreign volunteers. There, he was given the position of battalion doctor and jointly, captain.
In one of many battles, Mengele was seriously injured and considered him as a “person of frontal use unfit”, that is, he was not qualified to be active participant of the military troops. He was immediately given the opportunity to begin and resume his scientific work, especially since Verschuer was now Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology (KWI-A), specializing in Human Heritage and Eugenics, where he was able to focus mostly on research About German twins.
He was named head of the health department of the women’s concentration camp, a place he took as a great opportunity to complete his investigations that he had always delved into.
Mengele quickly took on a horrible reputation for being one of the SS doctors who committed terrible experimental acts with humans as the leader of those actions. It participated in the deaths of racial cleaning in the gas chambers and it became a kind of model to follow for the youngest doctors; Attention was drawn to the soulless indifference he had to the people he experimented with.
He was responsible for many tortures and constantly monitored the bunkers where he had twins, dwarves and giants who subjected to studies and experiments constantly.
When the prisoners arrived at the Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp , Mengele together with their medical colleagues, they made a selection of them. To those who had a more fit appearance, they left them as slaves (performing inhuman labors). Other prisoners, those physically large, were directly killed in the gas chambers. Especially during this selection of prisoners, it was Mengele who chose the best candidates for his experiments; Twins, congenital malformations, etc.
Throughout this period, Mengele was nicknamed the Angel of Death , and he decided who died immediately in the gas chambers, who would be employed slaves of Auschwitz for Nazi work and who could serve to contribute to the Nazi science . In addition, he was nicknamed that way for his great cruelty to perform macabre crimes, one of the things perhaps, more shocking than he realized, were the murders of millions of children for the sheer pleasure that this produced him, since he was, according to him , “Cleaning the race”.
Because of his high visibility and significant role during Adolf Hitler’s regime , Mengele became a symbol of the Holocaust . In particular, his name became a synonym for the evil in Auschwitz, recalling that it is the site where more murders occurred than Anywhere else in human history.
- Back to top↑ “Encyclopedia of the Holocaust” . Accessed June 10, 2016 .
- Back to top↑ Posner, Gerald (2000). Mengele: The Complete Story (in English) . New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publ. ISBN 978-0815410065 .
- Back to top↑ Astor, Gerald (1985). Donald I. Fine; First edition, ed. The Last Nazi: The Life and Times of Dr. Joseph Mengele . ISBN 978-0917657467 .
- Back to top↑ “The worst experiments with humans” . Accessed June 10, 2016 .
- Back to top↑ “Doctors of hell: experiments with Sulfanilamide” . Accessed June 10, 2016 .
- Back to top↑ «Auschwitz Survivors Recall Horror Of Nazi Experiments» . Accessed June 10, 2016 .