You ask someone, “what is the worst crime in living memory?” And their answers will most likely be “the Holocaust.” How could someone be so cruel and want to kill 6 million Jews? Well, that’s exactly what happened with Dr. Josef Mengele. The first time I had heard about the Holocaust was in the 5th grade. We had read the book Number the Stars. The book was about a young Jewish girl whose family was in danger but she didn’t understand why. They had to do whatever it would take to survive. Dr. Josef Mangle along with Hitler had killed roughly about 6 million Jews from the Nazi prison camps. Each person has a different story but could’ve happened to Dr. Mengele for him to start his SS career, his strange experiments, and what led up to his death.
Dr. Josef Mengele was born on March 16, 1911, in Günzburg, Germany. His parents were Karl and Walburga Mengele. He had two younger brothers, Karl and Eloise. Josef's father was a successful businessman who ran his own business so Josef was a privileged child. He was a well-liked and popular kid around school. He got good grades and everyone knew that he would most likely attend a great university because he could succeed in whatever he put his mind too. He decided to attend the University of Munich and received his first doctorate in anthropology in 1935. He decided to go to Frankfurt to preform his post-doctoral work under a dr. named Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer.
Dr. Verschuer was a fully indoctrinated Nazi eugenicist. While working under his mentor, Mengele decided to join the Nazi party in 1937 at the age of 26. He later started working for the SS and reserve unit of the Wehrmacht in 1938. In 1940 his unit was called up and Mengele served his unit willingly. He had even decided to volunteer to serve the Waffen-SS medical service. His unit was soon deployed to Ukraine in a combat role in 1941. Once again, Josef Mengele the rich, popular kid had once again distinguished himself from everyone else at the front of bravery bordering for heroics. He was brought to attention many times, once for dragging men out of a burning tank, and for his dedication to serve.
In 1943 a German army had surrendered and Mengele was severely wounded and left unfit for further action. He returned back to Germany where he reunited with his old mentor Dr. Von Verschuer. Upon his return, he received a wound badge, a promotion to caption, and the assignment of a lifetime. While talking with Von Verschuer, he decided that he wanted to work at Auschwitz. So in May 1943, Mengele went to work at the concentration camp Auschwitz. As soon as Mengele arrived at the camp he was assigned as the medical officer. People at the camp often describe him as a very enthusiastic man who always seemed to be doing more that what his duty had required.
One lady even said “he just seems to be everywhere at once.” Josef Mengele was always on task, he always kept his uniform nice and neat, and he always had a smile o his face showing the small gap between his teeth. If you were a doctor in this part of the camp you were required to take a turn as selection officer, which means you separate those who would work and those who would be sent to the gas chambers immediately. Many doctors found this job depressing but Mengele would most often offer to takes other doctors shifts and would usually whistle songs while doing this. The times that he wasn’t at the arrival ramp he would usually assist other doctors or manage an infirmary where the sick would be executed. He also conducted his own experiments using inmates whom he had selected himself.
The experiments that Mengele had conducted were unpredictable and ghoulish. Mengele was continuing his work that had done long ago when he was at Frankfurt. He was studying the influence of heredity on various physical traits. Identical twins were his favorite to test this because they have identical genes. Any difference he thought must have been from environmental factors. This is what made twins perfect for these experiments because he was able to compare and contrast their bodies and behavior. Mengele had tested hundreds of twins, he would spend hours observing their bodies and writing down notes about what he saw. He would sometimes even inject one twin with unknown substances and carefully examine the illness and what would soon happen.
He would induce gangrene by clamping painful clamps to their limbs and would even try to change eye color by injecting a dye into their eyes, this could often leave the child blind or cause death. When they died he would take their eyes and ship them back to a pathology lab in Germany. If one twin died the other twin would be immediately killed and both their bodies would be dissected for further comparison. There was one occasion where Mengele had killed over 14 pairs of twins and stayed up all evening studying their corpses. If the twins didn’t die during the experiments he would usually kill them after the experiment was over.
One experiment he did was when he found two Gypsy twins. He took the two Gypsy twins and sew them together in an effort to create Siamese twins, because of this their hands as well as other body parts became severely infected due to where the veins had been resected. Mengele not only preformed physical experiments but psychological experiments as well. He would preform surgeries without any anesthesia or preform unnecessary blood transfusions. He would remove limbs and organs, make sex changes, made injections with lethal germs, and also did incestuous impregnations.
According to the book Children of the Flames by Joe E. White Mengele had preformed his experiments on approximately three thousand twins who had passed through Auschwitz. Not many people survived his experiments but those that did live to tell their story. Survivors talk about how they remover the smiling “Uncle Mengele” that would always be smiling and would bring them cloths and candy. They had never expected him to have a dark side. One twin even recalls the death of his bother: “Dr. Mengele had always been more interested in Tibi. I am not sure why - perhaps because he was the older twin. Mengele made several operations on Tibi.
One surgery on his spine left my brother paralyzed. He could not walk anymore. Then they took out his sexual organs. After the fourth operation, I did not see Tibi anymore. I cannot tell you how I felt. It is impossible to put into words how I felt. They had taken away my father, my mother, my two older brothers - and now, my twin ...' The exact number of children who had died during the Holocaust will never be known but the rough es time to is about 1.5 million murdered children
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