Gepubliceerd op 29 mrt. 2020
More than fifty year ago, Nazi scientists conducted experiments to prolong Adolf Hitlers life. Joseph Mengele, one of the Nazi doctors who was involved in the experiments, was a refugee in Argentina after World War II. Argentinian writer Carlos de Napoli, who discovered the memorandum were Mengele described the necesary steps to obtain the “eternal youth formula”, goes through Argentina and Germany, investigating the sinister experiments of the Third Reich and its persistent obsession with beauty and youth.
Josef Mengele conducted research in concentration camps. His experiments earned him the name the Angel of Death.
He was born in Günzburg, Bavaria in 1911. His father Karl owned a lucrative business which was once the town’s largest employer. Josef was a popular kid who did well in school. He was expected to take over the family’s company, but he had something different in Mind.
In 1930, he went to Munich to study philosophy. By that time, the Nazi had become the second largest party in the country. As a student, Mengele sympathized with the National Socialists. He, at the same time, developed an interest in genetics and evolution.
His professors adhered to the Nazi eugenics theory. The belief was that the Aryans were superior to other races. Those who were threats to the purity of the master race were to be sterilized or killed. In 1935, Josef received his PhD in anthropology. In his thesis, he found that race could be identified by jawline.
He took the job at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt. He assisted Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer who was interested in twin research. In 1938, Mengele got his doctorate in medicine.
He also joined the Nazi party and the SS. After the outbreak of WWII, he served as a medical officer in Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. He was even decorated for rescuing injured soldiers from a burning tank. After Josef was wounded, he was hired to work at Auschwitz in 1943. He was the one who decided which arrivals were fit for labor and which were to be killed. Unlike others who found the work distressing, he smiled and whistled during the selection. To deal with a typhus epidemic once, he sent 600 sick inmates to the gas chamber. He used twins to further study heredity in full disregard of their health. Mengele gave children he experimented on candy and set up a kindergarten for them. He infected them, injected dye into their eyes and sewed them together. When one of the twins died, the other was killed and dissected for comparison.
In January 1945, Mengele fled the camp a week before it was captured by the Soviet Army. Though he was mentioned during the Nuremberg trials, the Allied forces thought he was dead. Mengele worked as a farmhand in Germany for a while until he escaped to Argentina in 1949. For a few years, he performed illegal abortions in Buenos Aires. After one of the girls he operated on died, he moved to Paraguay and then to Brazil. He lived there until his death of a stroke in 1979. He was 67. He was buried under his false name “Wolfgang Gerhard”.