bepposprincess (bepposprincess) wrote in mengele_friends,

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One week ago I was surfing the net and found something about our fave doctor.
It's abit long, but quite interesting :-)

God Playing Doctor


            God worked in Auschwitz. He was everywhere. He stood on the transport ramps for the selections. He granted life; he took life. He had love for his children, and would smite them when he was finished with them. The strongest he let live, and the weakest he left to die, if he did not kill them himself. God was of a darker complexion than one would have expected of him. His hair and eyes were brown. His hair- with a widow's peak, and slicked into a part on one side; his eyes- cruel and cold, "wild eyes", "dead eyes". Above these eyes were pointed eyebrows and a broad head, and between them was a short, medium-sized nose. His ears were flat and round. He had a Cupid's Bow mouth. His coat was always a shining white, his boots always polished. He seemed elegant and tall with his exaggerated perfect posture, but was average height. He was said to have looked like "a Hollywood actor", "Clark Gable", "Rudolph Valentino", or "Peter Sellers, but better. . . ." Some even believed him to be tall and blond, with the essence of Marilyn Monroe. He smelled of eau du cologne, because he was very sensitive to bad smells. God's name was Josef Mengele. And Josef Mengele was no god. He was a man.


Yet there were many people who viewed Mengele as a deity, a god-like creature who could bring Good and Evil to the situation at Auschwitz. Simon J., who was a prisoner at Auschwitz, said it himself, "Mengele is God--we found it out very fast." As did Teresa W., "Mengele was a god." Several prisoners called him "the Angel of Death", and another said he was "God playing doctor." Simon J. continued to explain his feelings about Mengele as a terrifying deity, "he always carried around him and aura of . . . some terrifying threat, which I suspect is unexplainable to . . . normal . . . human beings who didn’t' see this. I [have] found it found . . . [it] literally impossible to transmit the edge of this terror." He was "the lord of life and death", beauty and evil. "You see a handsome, tall man coming. Do you know if he is a doctor or not a doctor? You know it is Mengele, nothing else."


Perhaps it was Mengele's charisma that led people to believe him a god of some sort. He strode with an air of flawless confidence, "star quality", that haughty, almost sexual Nazi air, that was to such an extreme that he was a presence almost any prisoner or SS man knew well. Simon J. said "Mengele was judgment day." He was "the main show" with an "on-the-floor presence", and "always in charge." Mengele relished absolute control. He was arrogant with other SS men. He had the power to manipulate, while he himself was unmanipulatable. He never seemed to look into another's eyes, yet people could describe Mengele's at any time. No matter what he was doing, his mind always appeared to be elsewhere. With others he would only discuss business, and never anything personal, though he would act generous and appreciative to those who helped contribute to his research on eugenics. Anyone who interacted with him knew him to have a "split personality". According to one of his prisoner-doctors, Dr. Marek P., he could go from "attentive and jovial . . . within a fraction of a second, cynical and brutal." As Dr. Alexander O. put it, he was "the double man. . . . The double, . . . that is to say he had all the sentimental emotions, all the human feelings, pity, and so on. But there was in his psyche a hermetically closed cell, . . . impenetrable, indestructible cell, which is obedience to the received order. He can throw himself in the water to go and save a Gypsy, try to give him medication, . . . and then as soon as they are out of the water, . . . tell him to get in the truck and quickly off to the gas chamber." There were times when he would listen to prisoners' pleas, and times he wouldn't.


"I can't understand him!" said Teresa W. Some one else said, "Nobody understood what he wanted." Prisoners and doctors thought he had no doubts or personal problems. He was "a stranger to the world." Mengele's did not even react when he was congratulated for his wife giving birth to a son. Eva C., Mengele's test-subject portrait artist, believed he "had no sense for women," meaning no attraction to them. This was true even though female inmates have admitted to being extremely attracted to him. There was rumors among the prisoners that he must be impotent. Eva C. recalled an incident when Mengele approached a topless prisoner he saw from behind shouting "What is that man doing there?" The prisoner turned around, and ended up being a butch lesbian. (Mengele cracked down on homosexuality in the camps.) Although she spoke arrogantly to him, he "just got terribly, terribly red, . . . blushed, and said, 'oh, carry on,' and turned away and marched out of there."


Mengele had a good reputation with other SS doctors, and his superiors held him in high regards. He was praised for his method of dealing with a typhus epidemic in the women's camp. 7,000 of the 20,000 women in the block were ill. He began be sending an entire block of 600 to the gas chambers. The block was disinfected, and bathtubs were put between the disinfected block, and the next block. The women from the next block were disinfected in the tubs, and were sent to the clean block with clean nightshirts. The process continued until all of the blocks in the women's camp were disinfected. SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Eduard Wirth requested Mengele be given the War Cross of Merit. Mengele received his War Cross, and was promoted to First Physician of Auschwitz II- Birkenau. The same disinfection process was used for scarlet fever in the Hungarian Jews' block, and for measles in the Jewish children's and block and the Gypsy family camp. In these cases, however, all sick prisoners were sent to the gas chambers.


There are several accounts of Mengele granting life to prisoners. One time, a girl wanted to stay with her mother in the line away from the gas chambers, and so she ran to her. After Mengele directed her back to the line to the gas chambers, she ran back to her mother. Mengele allowed her to stay with her mother. Later the girl became sick, and Mengele personally treated her, although most SS doctors never treated prisoners. He tended to save the lives of beautiful prisoners, and would send others with blemishes and scars to the gas chambers. Coming across a woman and a child he found to be beautiful, he exclaimed, "that certainly is a painting," and saved them from the gas chambers. He granted his prisoner-doctors the most life privileges. Upon the annihilation of the Czech camp, one of his doctors approached him saying he would not leave the camp unless Mengele spared his wife and daughter, and so Mengele did.


Alongside this unusual kindness were moments of merciless rage and violence. He was "as gentle as a father" towards children, but "impulsive . . . [with] a choleric temper." He as "like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Another time when a different girl begged Mengele not to be separated from her mother and sisters, "[Mengele then] grabbed me by the hair, dragged me on the ground, and beat me. When my mother also tried to beg him, he beat her with his cane [riding crop]." When an old man asked him for light work because it was all he could handle, Mengele told him "You'll get light work," and sent him to the gas chamber. He was reported at one point to have suffocated a woman with the pressure of his foot, to have thrown newborn babies directly into the crematorium fires, and to have shot several prisoners in a fury. There was another incident in which a woman, in resistance to being separated from her child, began to attack the face of an SS man after arriving from the transport to Auschwitz. Mengele flew into a rage, shot the woman and child, and sent the entire transport to the gas chambers, shouting "Away with this shit!" He also sent a man in the quarantine camp to the gas chambers for holding a child during the camp inspection.


The rage tended to erupt when Mengele struggled for control over a situation. Something as simple as a grease stain on some medical reports would throw him off. When discovering his assistant Nyiszli had gotten the grease on the reports, he shouted, "How can you be so careless with these files, which I have compiled with so much love!" He would become infuriated when he felt the lethal injections were not being done fast enough and take the syringe to show the others how to do it faster. He was known for performing lethal injections as if they were "regular surgery". Mengele was the only doctor known to perform lethal injections himself. His rage was released on whoever was available for blame. Upon discovering two of his favorite twins, two boys, had the possibility of tuberculosis, he had his doctors take them in for tests. When the boys tested negative, Mengele insisted his doctors had made some mistake. He took the boys out of the room in his anger, and returned within an hour. "You were right. There was nothing." He hesitated, then added, "Yes I dissected them." He later told Nyiszli he had shot the boys in the backs of their necks to examine their organs while the bodies were still warm. He blamed his own colleagues for having to liquidate the entire Gypsy camp. When he did not believe one of his female doctors to have treated her patients properly, he put his fingers around her throat and yelled at her, "They will die. Then we Germans will be responsible!" He often showed off his power like this, such as when he entered a room waving his pistol demanding the chief physician of the women's medical block send all prisoners with typhus to the gas chambers.


            Mengele was known as much for his rage and kindness as for sadism and cynicism. After the rebellion of the Sonderkommando (male inmates who helped with the process of gassing and burning), which resulted in a dynamited crematorium, Nyiszli suggested moving the dissection room away from the crematorium. Mengele replied with "What's wrong? Getting Sentimental?" He also "never missed the chance to ask the women indiscreet and improper questions" to pregnant women. His sadism shows worst in moments like when a woman was begging for the life of her father, and he retorted, "Your father is seventy years old. Don't you think he's lived long enough?" One prisoner believed he planned out this cynicism by every action, such as during one event that took place on Tishab'av. Mengele stood before the camp's prisoners and announced "This is Tishahb'av . . . . We will have a concert." A concert was had, then appell was taken, and afterwards a massive group of people was sent to the gas chambers. He was said to have been more sadistic than any other SS officer, " . . . more raffiniert ['sophisticated, tricky, sly']. He [was] more elaborated . . . because he must know psychology." Dr. Magna V. proclaimed were it not for Auschwitz, he would have just become a "slightly sadistic German professor". His doctors believed he felt he was part of a larger plan, second to Hitler in believing in a pure Germany. Mengele was Auschwitz. He did no have to live a double life to take on the painful and fatal experiments he put people through. Dr. Lottie M. believed Mengele to have two categories for his prisoners. The inmates, especially the Jewish inmates, were "rabbits and mice". His prisoner-doctors, even if Jewish, were "human beings" or "colleagues".

Dr. Nyiszli: "When will all this experimentation cease?"

Dr. Mengele: "My friend! It will go on, and on, and on."


Mengele's rage and cynicism could be deterred by the strangest things. Mengele enjoyed collecting was fetuses. In order to avoid going to the gas chamber when an inmate named Gisella Perl and her friends were caught eating stolen food, she presented him with a recently obtained intact fetus. Mengele's anger vanished and he told her "Good! . . . Beautiful!" and said he would ship it to the Berlin Institute. Mengele also loved gallstones. One day when Nyiszli was performing an autopsy, he discovered some "very beautiful gallstones" and instantly thought of Mengele. He gave them as a present to Mengele, who was overjoyed and recited two lines from the ballad of the warrior Wallenstein.


"Im Besitze der Familie Wallenstein

Ist mehr Gallenstein, wie Edelstein."


("In the Wallenstein family

There are more gallstones, than precious stones.")



Then Mengele allowed Nyiszli to search for his wife and daughter in the women's camp.


Mengele's childhood and adolescence didn't suggest that of a common sociopath. He was born the oldest of three sons to an upper-middle class Catholic family on March 16, 1911 in Gunzburg, Bavaria. His family did not sympathize with the Nazis, so his family could not have influenced him. As young man he was interested in science and music, and was popular in his hometown. He wrote plays for charity drives. At age twenty, however, he suddenly abandoned his charitable artistic life for the Stahlhelm, a nationalistic right-wing paramilitary organization. Stahlhelm became Sturmabteilung, the SA storm troopers, in 1934. In 1937 he requested an invitation to the Nazi party, and was accepted.


In 1937, he began to study in the Institute of Heredity and Racial Hygiene, headed by Othmar Freiherr von Verschuer, at the Frankfurt University. He also studied philosophy at Munich University, but was more excited about eugenics and genetics. He quickly became von Verschuer's favorite student. Mengele performed three dissertations in the University of Frankfurt: "Hereditary Transmission of Fistulae Auris", "Racial-Morphological Examination of the Anterior Portion of the Lower Jaw in Four Racial Groups", "Genealogical Studies of Cases of Lip-Palate Cleft", which earned him a medical degree. (He earned his doctorate from the Munich University.) All three followed the Nazi ideology of eugenics, which was nothing like the original ideas of eugenics founded by the 19th-century English professor Sir Francis Galton. Sir Galton believed it was possible for people to consciously breed for a healthier human race with "pre-marital counseling, family planning, combating alcoholism, and venereal diseases, improving hygiene in workplaces, cultivating mental health, encouraging physical activity." The idea of eugenics was not accepted in Germany until Hitler came into power and warped Sir Galton's original ideas to match his own idea of eugenics. Mengele's dissertations were composed of many charts and diagrams that did not actually prove anything, but he was hired by von Verschuer, who was interested in Mengele's work with racial genetics. Mengele’s future work with twins was spawned by von Verschuer telling him twin studies are "the most efficient method to ascertain inherited human traits, particularly diseases."


Mengele joined the SS ranks in 1938, married Irene Schoenbein in 1939, and although he only had three months training with the Gebigsjaeger, a unit of mountain riflemen, he was called in by the Wehrmacht in 1940. He served one moth before he requested to transfer to the Waffen SS. He transferred and served in the medical battalion from August 1 to November 4. After that he was assigned to the genealogical section of the Race and Resettlement Office. The office sent him as an expert to the Reichskommissariat to work in the project for the Strengthening of Germanhood, in which he was to evaluate residents brought together for Germanization. In 1942 Mengele joined the medical corps of the Waffen SS in the Viking division to be a doctor. He was promoted to SS-hauptsturmfuehrer. He was wounded in combat on the Don River, and pronounced unfit for front-line service. The incident allowed him to continue his study of genetics. He requested work in concentration camps for research opportunities. He reported to Auschwitz on May 30 of 1943 as the chief physician of the Birkenau Gypsy camp. He was the only doctor to have as many decorations as he did: four, including the first and second Iron Cross. He would frequently refer to his combat experience in order to gain authority. (One day he dropped one of the Iron Crosses while riding a bicycle around camp, and had a large group of prisoners search for it until it was recovered.) Mengele's research was to be sent to von Verschuer's KWI of Anthropology in Berlin-Dahlem. His first act upon arriving at the camp was to send all Gypsies suspected of typhoid to the gas chambers.


He first became distinguished at Auschwitz on the selection ramp with his "graceful and quick movements" and his disconnected or jovial behavior. This was the first place he would make life or death decisions for his prisoners. One survivor called him "the false front for the crematorium". He paced back and forth, either with a cheerful expression on his face, acting in a playful manner, or he was very detached and cold, "like he would exterminate vermin." He would point with his riding crop, telling the new arrivals to either go links or rechts. When in his good moods on the ramp, he would do things like change the sign for who would go to the gas chambers and who would live (thumbs down to thumbs up). "He had a special kind of smile, . . . even joking, that bastard!" He'd whistle Wagner, and sometimes Verdi or Strauss. Dr. Ella Lingens pointed out that "Some [SS doctors] like Werner Rhoede, who hated his work, and Hans Koenig, who was deeply disgusted by the job, had to get drunk before they appeared on the ramp. Only two doctors performed the selections without stimulants of any kind: Dr. Josef Mengele and Dr. Fritz Klein. Dr. Mengele was particularly cynical and cold." It was on the ramp that Mengele found most of his subjects. He would become excited upon discovering twins, dwarves, or deformed prisoners. Several witnesses in the Frankfurt-Auschwitz trial described Mengele as being ever-present on the ramp, there "day and night". Prisoner-doctors were sent to collect test subjects from the ramp when Mengele was not on selection duty. Mengele threatened to shoot the prisoner-doctors if they did reach the collection quota. He often visited the ramp when it was not his shift to supervise the proper collection of test subjects by his assistants. Eva C. declared Auschwitz a pound, and Mengele the pound inspector who made sure the pound-keepers kept the pound spick-and-span. Then he would have them gas a large number of dogs to make more room in the pound.


In 1943, when Mengele was first working in the Gypsy camp, he was told to handle a noma faciei, more commonly known as just "noma", outbreak in the camp. Noma causes gangrene in the faces of adolescents and children, and is usually a result of cachexia (severe debilitation). This growing noma problem was his first major project assigned to him at Auschwitz. Other SS doctors were puzzled as to what to do with this outbreak. Mengele hired two Czech Jewish prisoners as his assistants for handling the noma outbreak, approaching them with an "extension of life" if they worked for him. All research would be done under his name. He then created a quarantine barrack in the Gypsy camp hospital, and put a few of the victims to death for testing at the SS Institute of Hygiene at Rajsk. After the patients were killed, their organs and heads were put in jars and delivered to the SS Medical Academy in Graz. On prisoner-doctor recalled Mengele carrying two children's heads wrapped in newspaper into the office for bacterial analysis. As for the rest of the patients with noma, he provided them with a special diet and drugs by request of Professor Epstein. Many of the children and adolescents recovered.


Mengele came to Auschwitz with two major projects in mind, referred to as "specific proteins" and "eye color". "Specific proteins" involved identifying genetic "specific proteins" that determine response to infection. The "eye color" project's goal was to discover a way to change eye color to blue. These projects required more money than could be acquired from the KWG (Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute), which was funding his work, so Mengele turned to the DFG (Reich Research Council) and applied for more advanced equipment. His application was approved, and he received an incubator, microscopes, a table-centrifuge, and relevant journals. Each apparatus had a plate reading "on loan from the DFG". As Mengele's stay at Auschwitz progressed, his dissecting room grew richer from the gold, diamonds, money, wedding rings, and gold teeth he collected from his subjects. Soon he had nickel faucets on three porcelain sinks, as well as three microscopes, some comfortable armchairs, a nice polished marble dissecting table, green mosquito net over the windows, and a vast library. Mengele gave his anthropological assistant, Teresa W., was given the same white coat as he had, as well as high-quality Swiss instruments. She claimed visiting his office was like visiting a normal doctor's office, although it was not.


In order to prepare the subjects for experimentation, each subject was given four thorough examinations: an anthropological, a morphological, an x-ray, and a psychiatric evaluation. The anthropological examination, which Mengele performed himself, consisted of each body part measured exactly while the subject was naked in an unheated room. Mengele was never rude while examining his subjects. Twins were measured together, and their measurements were compared. The measurements lasted several hours, which exhausted small children. Photographs were taken of the more interesting subjects. Prisoner-doctors performed the other tests. In the ophthalmological test, an unknown liquid was dropped into the subject's eye, causing partial blindness in some. The psychiatric test included questions such as "All animals die. Napoleon died. Was Napoleon an animal?" Twenty cubic centimeters of blood were taken, along with stool, urine, saliva, and sometimes cerebral-spinal fluid. The samples were taken for analysis by prisoner-doctors. The large amount of blood taken caused anemia in the malnourished children. The blood tests became more difficult to draw over time due to the Auschwitz diet, and were therefore rather painful. Blood transfusions, not preceded by blood cross-matching, were done between unrelated twins to study the reaction. All subjects were tested for typhoid, and a family history was taken. Dwarves and handicapped persons were photographed before their examinations. After examinations, they were tested on, and usually killed for dissection. Their skeletons were prepared to be sent to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. Mengele considered physical and mental defects to be Jewish traits, as he saw Jews to be freaks.


While in the University, Mengele stressed the importance of taking notes on only significant details, but in Auschwitz he insisted all details were significant, and every one of them must be documented. Every organ was described fully in autopsy records. He loved spending time in Nyiszli's autopsy room to supervise and note details of the corpses. " In his scientific research he was honest . . . and fanatic," Teresa W. said of Mengele. He was very attached to his research. When the camp was liberated, he became "completely mad-looking" and "put everything--instruments, all [there] was, in this trunk . . . paper, stationary, everything--pack, pack, terrific speed, not a word spoken to us--nothing, no expression, . . . just shuffling everything." Mengele would try find rationality in irrational things, and twist his research to match his expectations. He insisted a group of French nomads were Gypsies because of their low hairlines, which was common in Gypsies. Dr. Alexander O. called this "such a learned stupidity, so ingenious." Dr. Jan W. called his research "superficial" and said of his research records "no scientist would take [them] seriously." Dr Abraham C. declared Mengele's work was "not real science", and another prisoner described Mengele as a "megalomaniac who wanted to become a great scientist and to reach this aim it was best to experiment with human beings."


On of Mengele's fascinations was with eyes, particularly heterochromia iridis (the eyes are separate colors.) In Mengele's "eye color" experiments, methylene blue was injected into the iris of children with blonde hair, but not blue eyes. As a result, the eyes would redden, discharge pus, and swell. Some children experienced partial or total blindness, while infants died from the experiment. Entire families were killed so their eyes could be shipped to the KWI. Nyiszli recalls the KWI calling one day demanding he was supposed to ship the eyes of a family of eight gypsies, while only seven pairs had arrived at the Dhalem institute. Nyiszli had to sort through the corpses in the autopsy room to find eyes that matched the description of the eighth pair of eyes.

In Mengele's "specific proteins" experiments, several Jewish and Gypsy subjects was infected with the same amount of typhoid. He followed the course of the, and took blood to be sent for chemical analysis to Berlin. Tuberculosis was also tested in these experiments. The Auschwitz situation was convenient to Mengele for this experimentation, because all of his subjects were in the same condition. Nazis explained the deaths from the experiments were not results of experimentation, but were of raging epidemics.


            Mengele also conducted several endurance experiments out of curiosity on his subjects. He applied chemicals to the skin to see what color it turned. He stuck children several places, especially behind the ear. Sticking the children behind the ear would cause deafness, collapse, and death in smaller children. Spinal taps were also performed on the children. When Auschwitz was liberated, some of his subjects were found dead in diving suits soaking in ice water. Several prisoners were subjected to sterilization experiments. One twin's testicles were removed and left on the lab table for a while. Some of the sterilizations were done with injections, such as when one woman was given an injection in the abdomen and spine, leaving her sterile and without a menstrual cycle.


            Most of Mengele's tests were on twins. He would often speak of finding the secret to multiple births in order to repopulate Germany and replace the loss that happened during the war. His interest in twins began with his professor von Verschuer, who spoke of the importance of twin studies often. Mengele would stand on the transport ramp shouting "Zwillinge heraus!" ("Twins come forward!") with a crazed expression on his face, and would enter a joyous trance upon spotting twin transports. If not informed of new twin transports, he would fly into one of his fits of rage. He went into the same rage when one of his female twins died unexpectedly, ending his experimentation on that particular pair. He cared very much for his twin experiments, and made sure twins were kept in "good condition". They were allowed to keep their hair and clothing. The tattoos inscribed on twin prisoners' arms bore a ZW at the end for "Zwillinge". The worst of the experiments were the ones performed on the twins. Vera Alexander recalls "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 of the back and wrists. Mengele had sewn their veins together. The wounds were filthy and they festered. There was a powerful stench of gangrene. The children screamed all night long. Somehow their mother managed to get hold of morphine to put an end to their suffering." Moshe Ofer spoke of experimentation done on his twelve-year old twin Tibi and him. "He made incisions in our testicles, injected chemical substances, performed surgery on Tibi's spine." Mengele brought gifts afterwards, but then inserted pins into their heads. Tibi was taken away, and later returned with his head covered in bandages. He died in Moshe's arms. Teresa W. estimated 15% of Mengele's twins were killed. Mengele would kill twins directly if they were no longer of any use to him. He once killed fourteen in one night.


Most of the twins he kept as subjects were ages three to seven, but ages ranged from infants to 70 years old. An older child known as the Zwillingsvater (twins' father) on the twin children block took care of the younger children. Older children were also messengers for buying and selling food and delivering specimens to different parts of the camp. These children were rewarded with better food than the other children. Mothers of twins were allowed to stay with their children to make sure the children remained in good health. Eventually the mothers were sent back to their own blocks and killed. Fathers of twins were not of as much interest as mothers. Mengele had a fondness for children, and would "jump around" to entertain them. They had several terms of endearment for him such as "Uncle Pepi" and "Good Uncle". When he entered a room, the children would cry "Onkel Mengele!" He was gentle with the children in his care, and gave them enough food. He also gave them toys, and candy found on Jewish children that were sent to the gas chambers. Children who were not twins were also used for experimentation. Mengele had a yard stick fixed to a fence that would determine which children would become test subjects by height. Taller children and those whose heads just barely touched the stick were sent back to their prison blocks. If any of the children misbehaved, they were only scolded, and not punished physically, so they would be in top-condition for testing. A kindergarten was established for children under six. Paintings of fairy tales covered its walls, and a playground sat behind it. The kindergarten was cared for by female prisoners. The children in the kindergarten were harbored as subjects for experimentation. When giving lethal injections to his child-prisoners, he made sure to assure them first and keep them calm be telling them "don’t be afraid nothing is going to happen to you." The barracks and diet for adult subjects were the same as the rest of the camp.


Of his assistants, those perceived to be closest to him were Nyiszli and Dr. Alexander O. Neither of them, however, felt close to him. Nyiszli explained he never felt comfortable around Mengele, while it was different for Mengele. Nyiszli on Mengele's behavior around him: "I know men, and it seemed to me that my firm attitude, my measured sentences, and even my silences were qualities by which I had succeeded in making Dr. Mengele, before whom the SS themselves trembled, offer me a cigarette in the course of a particularly animated discussion, proving he forgot for a moment the circumstances of our relationship." When Alexander O. first met Mengele, the two had friendly intelligent conversation. Just as Alexander O. believed he had made friends, he realized Mengele had forgotten who he was. Mengele asked him about his family. Alexander O. explained his wife had come to Auschwitz with him, but his children were safe with priests in France. Mengele stood up and said "why [did] they not come here as well?" From then on Alexander O. felt disappointed in Mengele.


Someone else Mengele was close to was Eva C., an entertaining, intelligent woman. There were rumors about them that they were in a relationship, although they were not. "I was his pet," she told her interviewer, and went on to describe when someone had given her a puppy. Mengele came across the puppy one day and demanded, "What is the meaning of this!" When someone informed him the puppy belonged to Eva C., Mengele pet the puppy and said it was "like a puppy from Germany." Then he left.


            As time passed, and the prisoners of Auschwitz became familiar with Mengele, many different opinions formed about him. Dr. Henri Q. emphasized his "role was very important, more than that of the others . . . . He had a reputation, it was a name that was heard the most. He was everywhere. He was seen the most often . . . ." A prisoner remembered what happen in the changing room to the gas chambers, and said “Lagerfuehrer Schwarzhuber and Dr. Mengele–appeared in the doorway of the changing room, those standing near flew into a rage. Suffering and sorrow gave way to unrestrained hatred for those men. . . .” One man exclaimed, "how we hated this charlatan! . . . How we despised his detached, haughty air, his continual whistling, his absurd orders, his frigid cruelty!" While some prisoners developed utter hatred for him, others could not understand his notoriety, or did not know anything about him. Survivor Tomas A. could not imagine Mengele had done the things accused of him. He felt Mengele had been genuinely affection towards him. Other survivors believe he was nice to them so they would cooperate with his tests.


On August 1st, 1944, the entire Gypsy camp was liquidated, and it soon disbanded. Mengele was seen dashing all over the camp to supervision the process. Alexander O. observed his impatience with the children “Mengele arrived at around 8 o’ clock or seven-thirty. It was day-light. He came, and then the children. . . . A Gypsy girl of eleven, twelve, . . . the oldest [child] of a whole family–maybe thirteen, with malnutrition sometimes they grow less. ‘Onkel Mengele [she calls], my little brother cries himself to death. We do not know where out mother is. He cries himself to death, Onkel Mengele!’ Where did she go to complain? To Mengele–to the one she loves and knows she is loved by, because he loved them. His answer: ‘Willst du die Schnauze halten!’ . . . He said it in a common, vulgar way . . . but . . . with a sort of tenderness: . . . ‘Why don’‘t you shut your little trap!’” Mengele hunted down hiding children to be transported to the gas chambers. He drove them to the chambers himself, reassuring them the whole time. It was different with adults. “Whenever I see a picture of Dracula," said Alexander O., " I think of Mengele running through the Zigeuner [Gypsy] camp–just like Dracula. . . . We could hear the terrible crying from the beating and torturing as they put those Gypsies on those cars. . . . [On nearby blocks] they were crying a shouting ‘We are worried that Mengele and his assistants will come and burn us.’” After the Gypsy camp was liquidated, Mengele became the chief physician at the hospital for male prisoners in October and November 1944, and was transferred to the SS infirmary in December.


Mengele and von Verschuer had kept in contact while Mengele was in Auschwitz. Occasionally Mengele would visit him in his house for tea. Von Verschuer's son remembers Mengele as a very friendly man, and said when Mengele was asked what he did in Berlin, Mengele replied "It's dreadful. I can't talk about it." After the war, Von Verschuer destroyed all correspondence he had with Mengele when he discovered how Mengele was obtaining his material that was sent to the institute. Mengele asked von Verschuer whether he should kill himself, to which von Verschuer refused to respond. The KWI expressed regret about the bad reputation Mengele had given it. Mengele later escaped during the Russian invasion, on January 18th, 1945, with much of his research, and fled to South America after staying for some time in Europe. Mengele avoided many close-calls of being captured, and finally died of a heart attack while swimming in the ocean on February 7th, 1979.

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