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Daily History

May 24 1943 Auschwitz gets a new doctor: “the Angel of Death”


Josef Mengele

On May 24th 1943, the extermination camp at Auschwitz, Poland, received a new doctor, 32-year-old Josef Mengele, a man who would earn the nickname “the Angel of Death.”

Born March 16, 1911, in Bavaria, Mengele studied philosophy under Alfred Rosenberg, whose racial theories highly influenced him. In 1934, already a member of the Nazi Party, he joined the research staff of the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene.

Upon arriving at Auschwitz, and eager to advance his medical career by publishing “groundbreaking” work, he began experimenting on live Jewish prisoners. In the guise of medical “treatment,” he injected, or ordered others to inject, thousands of inmates with everything from petrol to chloroform. He also had a penchant for studying twins, whom he used to dissect.

Mengele managed to escape imprisonment after the war, first by working as a farm stableman in Bavaria, then by making his way to South America. He became a citizen of Paraguay in 1959. He later moved to Brazil, where he met up with another former Nazi party member, Wolfgang Gerhard. In 1985, a multinational team of forensic experts travelled to Brazil in search of Mengele. They determined that a man named Gerhard, but believed to be Mengele, had died of a stroke while swimming in 1979. Dental records later confirmed that Mengele had, at some point, assumed Gerhard’s identity, and was in fact the stroke victim.

A fictional account of Josef Mengele’s life after the war was depicted in the film Boys from Brazil, with Mengele portrayed by Gregory Peck.

This Day In History

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Discussion

12 thoughts on “May 24 1943 Auschwitz gets a new doctor: “the Angel of Death”

  1. By coincidence, I am familiar with this. I work in Terre Haute, Indiana, where Eva Moses Kor lives. She was a twin that Mengele experimented on at Auschwitz. She founded the CANDLES Museum in Terre Haute. You could Google it to learn more. She has written a book and there has been a documentary on her. FYI: I am pretty sure her twin died there in the camp. 😦

    Posted by Sheila T Illustrated | May 24, 2012, 15:41
  2. About Paraguay, where dictator Stroessner protected Mengele and other nazi criminals:

    http://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/2008/04/22/paraguyan-dictator-stroessners-party-loses-election-at-last/

    Posted by petrel41 | May 24, 2012, 15:56
  3. That is some serious years ago .. since I saw that film – had forgotten about it – until a couple of days ago, it was mention in an episode of “CSI Las Vegas”. Read the book first, by Ira Levin – never stop to be amazed over all the evil that they where up. Thanks for a very interesting post !!!

    Posted by viveka | May 24, 2012, 16:40
  4. Some say Dr. Mengele was one of the better medicinal minds in history, and if not for the Nazis and Hitler, he may have become one of the foremost minds in defeating cancer or other genetic diseases. Nazi Germany killed a lot more than people…

    Posted by Marc Phillippe Babineau | May 24, 2012, 19:57
  5. It feels somehow wrong to press ‘like’ when the subject matter is such….

    Posted by tripwheels | May 24, 2012, 21:37
    • I agree with that, but have come to think of it instead as letting the author know I was here I read their post and found it helpful.

      Thanks for sharing this, Craig, I hadn’t heard of him and found it a very sad episode.

      Posted by J. G. Burdette | May 25, 2012, 01:15
  6. I remember the news coverage when the Nazi hunters finally caught up with him. What a disturbed psychopath he was.

    Posted by swabby429 | May 25, 2012, 02:03
  7. It’a been 34 years since I visited Auschwitz. You still remind my eyes to tear.

    Posted by eideard | May 25, 2012, 03:02
  8. He was a monster. You can’t imagine the torture he practiced upon helpless victims, including very young children. I’m sorry he never had to face justice or pay for horrific crimes against humanity.

    Posted by Naomi Baltuck | May 25, 2012, 07:18
  9. Josef Mengele was almost captured by the same Israeli commandos -led personally by the director of Israel’s Mossad Isser Harel- that kidnapped Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. Shortly after the capture of Eichmann in May 1960 -it is said- Mengele was spotted at his home in Buenos Aires, a city plagued of Nazi refugees protected by Peron and the Catholic Church, but from that moment they lost his track. Mengele had escaped to Paraguay and later to Brazil. Unlike Eichmann who was tried and hanged in Israel, Mengele died on February 7, 1979, in Brazil, where he accidentally drowned while swimming in the Atlantic.

    Posted by Dugutigui | May 28, 2012, 12:47
  10. We should not forget that history is always written by the victors … Without pretending to defend Mengele or the rest of the people of his ilk (no possible defense) also should be noted that two American bombs killed 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki. In both cities, the vast majority of deaths were civilian. The Bombing of Dresden is another one of the moral causes célèbres of the Second World War. The civilian’s dead toll estimated around 25,000 victims.
    And today similar atrocities occur on a regular basis.

    Posted by Dugutigui | May 28, 2012, 22:46

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