Josef Mengele, also known as the Angel of Death, is perhaps one of the most notorious criminals of the twentieth century, without a doubt. The specific gradation of crimes against humanity, which was founded at the Nuremberg Trials, after World War II, is reserved just for the likes of people like him.
Mengele had a strange fascination with humanity, in a way that might make one want to wretch. He took a special interest in studying eyes, as well as those born as twins, or with some type of deformity, and pregnancy was also something that caught his attention (by way of incest).
But there was another side to this man as well. One that loved skits and showmanship. One that enjoyed having a bit of a sing song by the piano, or playing the violin for children. But that doesn’t excuse his heinous crimes. If anything, it’s just enough to make one question ever listening to Mozart or Wagner ever again.
15. Escaping U.S. Custody
This is perhaps one of the most frustrating facts to ever know about Mengele, and it will be made even more frustrating after digging into what sorts of experiments he carried out in the concentration camps. Just after the war was won by the Allies, Mengele was actually held in American custody for a brief time. However, unaware at that point that he was wanted for some pretty gruesome crimes, the Americas ended up releasing him. This gave Mengele time to do a bit of work, and kick back a bit in Bavaria, before emigrating to South America, to escape any sort of apprehension whatsoever. The Allies had him! But because of this rather large clerical error, or miscommunication, perhaps the most hideous of all the Nazis actually managed to get away and live a fairly normal life afterward! Which just goes to show how messed up he truly was…he could still live a normal life after all he did.
14. Ridding The Camp Of Lice
Josef Mengele was appointed the Health Director at the Auschwitz concentration camp and quickly went to work when he arrived. Aside from choosing who lived and who died, simply by the wave of a gloved hand, he had many other tasks at hand. This included dealing with a bad bout of lice within the camp. Prisoners did not have much hair, but that didn’t stop the infestation by any means. Thinking entirely rationally, and doing only what seemed the most efficient way of ridding the camp of lice, he immediately ordered for an entire block of the women’s section of the camp to be gassed. There were seven hundred and fifty women in this block of the camp. Mengele’s moral position on this atrocity: his justification was that this extermination was his opportunity to reduce the chances of typhus in the camp. This was a wholly moral and rational decision for the man.
13. Troubles For Twins
Mengele had a very unhealthy obsession with the concept of twins. Any chance he got to examine them, he revelled in. They were very special to him. He believed them to be the key to creating a superior race, given the duplication of DNA that must occur in order to create twins; especially identical twins. He even afforded twins special treatment of sorts, allowing them to keep their hair, and their clothing, and even riding with him in his car. But that is where the nice part of the special treatment ends.
In addition to this initial facade, these twins were then subjected to horrible experiments. One of Mengele’s frequent experiments was to inject chloroform directly into the heart of each twin, and study how similar they were, even in death. Or, if one happened to contract some sort of disease or virus, he would watch how that twin suffered, and how the other one coped, and upon the death of the diseased one, would then kill the other, to compare body chemistry.
12. Incestuous Conception
Another experiment that Mengele would undertake, with regards to his special twin subjects, was a breeding experiment. He was fascinated by the idea of incest, and just how children born of incestuous twins might turn out. Apparently each and every child born in Auschwitz was the product of an incestuous union, typically between a set of twins. Whether he attempted to force sex between them, or simply pulled sperm from one to inseminate the other…is probably best left unknown to readers. The main point is, not only did he torture innocent children, but he also impregnated them, and either allowed them to carry to term to study the baby, or simply tore out the uterus of a pregnant, prospective mother, in order to study the development in process. And he apparently did so rather calmly, which is all manner of crazy.
11. Parts Of Study
The sadistic Director of Health had many fascinations, to be sure, and it seemed to be that pain was certainly one of them. Many, if not all of his experiments and surgeries, were done without any sort of anesthetic. This means that, while his subjects were actually fed, unlike the regular population of the camps, they ultimately endured far more pain before their death. He would routinely attempt to change the eye colour of children, and even infants, by injecting ink into the iris. Some experiments were done painlessly, but only because the subjects were dead by this point. Brain study and further examination of eyes and other parts of the body were done after death. And indeed many of these parts were then sent to other doctors within the Third Reich. In 2013, remains of Holocaust victims were found in some trash in Berlin, and a whole swath of brains and other parts were found jarred in the Max Planck Psychiatric Institute in Munich in 2015. Mengele’s work is still being discovered.
10. Good With Kids
Aside from injecting ink into their eyes (causing at least partial blindness and sometimes death), and performing surgeries without anesthetic…and just outright murder by lethal injection, it turns out that Mengele was actually very good with children. This is a very terrifying thought indeed. Josef Mengele essentially lured the children of Auschwitz away from their families with the promise of clothing and food. He enticed them with treats, a ride in his car, and even a little bit of violin playing. This man’s ability to act so relatively charming one minute, and then begin vivisection on children the next is absolutely the stuff that nightmares are made of. It’s always strange to think of murderers being somewhat well-functioning and social people in the public eye. It makes one wonder just how difficult, if at all, it is for people like this to compartmentalize their actions. “Won’t someone please think of the children”.
9. Mozart And Wagner
One of those bits of humanity that still resonated in the seemingly inhuman Josef Mengele, was an incredible love of classical music. He so dearly loved classical music that within the experimentation block of Auschwitz, he also had a music room, in which sat a piano, as well as his violin. He also happened to keep a prisoner in there, when he felt inclined to hear, or play along to a bit of piano. Though she wasn’t treated too specially, considering she had her typical slave work on top of the piano playing that she did, on the whim of Mengele’s mood. And this poor woman had a very intense motivation to hit every note correctly as well. So well versed was Menegele with classical music, that he even allegedly trained his dog to pounce on the poor pianist if she flubbed a single note. Indeed, she did manage to survive the holocaust, likely thanks to this special occupation, but not without a few scars from Mengele’s mongrel.
8. Dealings With Dwarves
Given that Josef Mengele was rather obsessed with deformity and abnormality, he found himself in heaven when he came across a family of seven dwarfs (and no, that is not by any means meant as a joke). This was the Ovitze family, seen above looking very content with life. Unfortunately for them, this Transylvanian family, while perhaps seen to be treated better than most, was put under tortuous experimentation. This was another group that he allowed to keep their clothing and hair, but not without draining them of blood, pulling their teeth, psychologically stressing them to breakdown, and ultimately looking for the perfection of eugenics in the exploratory surgeries of the bodies of this family. Mengele was so sure that the key to opening the door for eugenics was within the seemingly deformed, disabled, and simply different.
7. An Assistant Of Sorts
No. A8450, otherwise known as Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, was a Jewish medical doctor who was employed at Auschwitz as Josef Mengele’s “personal research pathologist”. I’m not sure what’s more horrifying: the fact that Mengele would employ a Jewish doctor, under duress, to perform experiments and autopsies on his own people…or that Nyiszli actually did so. Nyiszli often conversed with the Commandant of the part of the camp in which he worked, on topics such as politics, the ways of the war, and their work. Of course, it’s clear that his going along with this surely haunting work was nothing more than a means for survival (and there is now a very great eyewitness account thanks to Nyiszli), but to work alongside the Angel of Death must have indeed been a traumatizing experience. Or if not, then certainly a desensitizing one. The latter seems to be true, when reading excerpts of his accounts.
6. What A Show
It’s already somewhat clear that Josef Mengele enjoyed a bit of a show when he wasn’t obsessing over his work. He loved music and, as it turns out, he loved theatre and live performance in general. Of course Bach would be one of his favourite composers, along with the likes of Mozart, and Wagner. His enjoyment of this music went to the point of organizing Bach concerts at the camp. He would also write skits for prisoners to take part in. And of course it cannot be any sort of surprise that someone so depraved would also employ the likes of the Ovitze family for some entertainment, thanks to their dwarfism. For those who are aware of Gulliver’s Travels you will know who the Lilliputians are (very tiny people in comparison to Gulliver). Mengele thought it was a hoot to form a sort of Lilliputian circus out of the dwarfs he collected for his experimentation.
5. Modern Science
Ok, first of all, the fact that there is a scientific institute named after Kaiser Wilhelm is a bit much, perhaps. Especially when it is discovered that not only was there a place for this institute in that previous war, but also a prominent place for it in World War II. In 1933, the institute dismissed all Jewish researchers there, and during the war, it was one of many places that was focused on experimentation. Much of Mengele’s work ended up here, and was defended, to a point, as recently as the new millennium. And if that’s not enough, the aforementioned Max Planck was once a member of this very society. So it really should not have been a surprise to anyone that there were still specimens of Mengele’s kicking around that institute even as late as 2015. The majority of Mengele’s work was needlessly painful and fruitless, but that’s not to say that there wasn’t research that came to light, that wasn’t then employed in the medical field for one thing or another.
4. Angels Of Death Can Drown
After all of the horrible atrocities that Josef Mengele committed; after the torture of even little infants, never mind tearing twins apart, or forcing them to watch the other die…and causing untold misery to pregnant girls (pregnant from their very brothers)…There is a lot that this monster did. But those things include escaping American custody, and escaping to South America to live out a fairly long life, especially in comparison to the length of life he would have had, if he had been brought before the Nuremberg court. Indeed, Josef Mengele lived all the way to 1979, when he died at 67 from nothing more simple than drowning. He was swimming one day in Brazil, and suffered a stroke, though some say he killed himself. Who knows? According to letters found years later, he was then depressed, but nothing fully gives credence to suicide. Either way, a fairly unjust way for such a monster to go.
3. A Price On His Head
As unjust as Mengele’s manner of death was, it seems that there is at least some bit of ironic justice to be had in that his remains have been found, separated, sold off, and will be used for education and experimentation. If there is indeed an afterlife one can always hope that he is horrified at the prospect of his remains being treated so frivolously. The intention of Dr. Daniel Romero Muniz is to have Mengele’s remains an integral part of Brazilian medical students’ education. Especially with regards to post-mortem examination. Another plus for some post-mortem justice is that it wasn’t like Mengele’s remains were just found somewhere in an alleyway, thirty years after the Holocaust. No, when he died, he was buried under a false name, and was later exhumed, after connections to this false identity linked the person to indeed be Josef Mengele. So his grave has now been desecrated, and he will continue to be at the scrutiny of med students in Brazil.
2. Family Money
Some might wonder just how the Angel of Death managed to escape Auschwitz, American custody, and then Bavaria in order to end up in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Well, there are a number of very good reasons to assume that Mengele’s family was laundering money and transferring it into a Swiss bank account for the express purpose that Josef could get his hands on it and live comfortably. This makes quite a bit of sense, since he divorced his first wife to marry his brother’s widow, thus granting him his brother’s share of their family company Karl Mengele & Sons. This widow denied everything from her home in Itally, back in 1985…but she also denied that Josef committed any of the atrocities he is accused of…so it’s sort of difficult to take her word seriously at all. It doesn’t help that a quarter of the town where the company was based in Germany at the time, was employed by the Mengeles…so there is every reason for people to deny this…but let’s be honest, it’s true.
1. Let Me Sing You A Song…
Given that Mengele was unearthed in 1985, it makes sense that all manner of information would then also surface about him– like the above money laundering scheme that allowed him to pay for his life in South America. In addition to that though, came a tape recording from seven years before Mengele’s death. This recording features him playing piano and singing some good ol’ Austrian pop songs. The tape was offered to a biographer of Mengele from a woman who allegedly harboured the Nazi Angel of Death for thirteen years. There was no real reason for this woman to lie, as she asked no payment, and had not been on the hunt for fame, but ultimately there is no way to prove the authenticity, especially so many years after the fact. All we can do is take in what we know: that this monstrous human being, who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, loved music more than seemingly his work, and would take every opportunity to revel in it.