In the summer, the sun scorched the earth and the heavy air reached every
corner of the camp with the stench of burning flesh. In winter, the camp was ravaged by icy storms sweeping off the Vishula
river. Most people found this part of Poland
too inhospitable to live in. Himmler considered this to be the perfect place for a camp and had the perfect man to run it
in March 1941. Rudolf Hoess who had been convicted of murder before the war.
By the time he arrived in May 1943, Auschwitz
had almost 140,000 prisoners and stretched for miles in all directions. Dr Nyiszli who served as an inmate pathologist under
Mengele was overwhelmed when he saw the size of the camp.
I returned to barracks 12 just in time for Mengeles arrival. He drove
up and asked me to join him in the car. We drove for about 12 minutes through the labyrinth of barbed wire and entered the
gates, passing from one section to another. Only then did I realise how big KZ was. I later learned that the camp had 100,000
or more people in it at times
This camp was patrolled by SS guard dogs and contained 5 crematoria and
gas chambers. On a clear day, the smoke could be seen 30 miles away. According to Hoess, the highest total gassed in 24 hours
Himmler had ordered all records to be burned but it is known that at
least 2.5 million Jews died there.
Mengele was in his element at Auschwitz. It was constantly plagued with
typhoid and to help stop it, on May 25, 1943, he sent 507 men and 538 women from the gypsies to the gas chambers, who were
suspected of having the disease. His view was that these were subspecies although
he himself had been taunted at school for his gypsy looks.
In late 43 a severe outbreak hit the womens camp at Birkenau. Out of
some 20,000, 7,000 were ill. Mengele proposed a solution. He sent 600 from one block to the gas chambers and had that block
disinfected from top to bottom. Then bathtubs were put in between one and the
next. Women were disinfected and put in the clean block. This was done in this way till all the blocks were clean.
Towards the end of 1944, there was a shortage of food, Mengele told an
SS officer that he could no longer feed them so they would be liquidated. During the following 10 nights, convoys of trucks
carried 4,000 a day to the gas chambers.
But it was at the railhead selections, with the new arrivals that Mengele
got his reputation, even among fellow SS, as a ruthless cynic. Any person who entered the KZ was a candidate for death. Those
in the right hand columns, also died but had to endure 3 months at least of all the horrors that KZ had to offer.
Some doctors like Werner Rhode hated the work, Hans Konig had to get
drunk before hed go on the camp. Only Mengele and Dr Fritz Klein enjoyed their work.
Kleins attitude stemmed from the fact he was anti-semite. He hated all
Jews and was over heard saying that he liked the smell of the crematoria. Mengele saw
that the biggest threat to the German
race was from the Jews. He once said there are only two gifted people in the world, Germans and Jews and it is the question
of who will be superior, the Jews must be destroyed.
Mengele was one of the first people that the inmates saw as they arrived
at Auschwitz. Many have testified about his immaculate appearance and many women, although were humiliated by parading naked
in front of him, said he was very handsome.
Pointing to each man, woman and child either to the left or right, everyone
commented on how he seemed to enjoy the grisly task. His sick-bay selections were notorious too. He made things easy for himself.
He ordered the prison doctors, to write out lists of patients, complete with diagnosis and the prognosis. They were to state
the date, approx, when the patient would be fit for work.
It was difficult to refuse as they were told nothing of the purpose although
they guessed it well enough. If they said a patient was to stay in hospital for over 3 weeks, they were condemned. It was
impossible to find a way out.
Out of sight of his Aryan colleagues, Mengele resorted to a variety of
cruel methods of execution. In an indictment it lists a monstrous catalogue.
Mengele is accused of having actively and decisively taken part in selections
in the prisoners sick blocks, of such prisoners who through hunger, deprivation, exhaustion, sickness, disease, abuse or other
reasons were unfit for work and whose recovery was not envisaged and of those who had contagious and unsightly illnesses
Those selected were killed either through injections or firing squads,
painful suffocation through prussic acid in gas chambers. The injections were made with phenol, petrol, euipol, chloroform
or air into the circulation, especially into the heart chamber, either with his own hands or by an SS sanitary worker while
he watched. He is also alleged to have supervised the prussic acid granules formula Zyklon B into the inlet pipes of the gas
chambers or to have it put in himself.
There were times when Mengele would get excited and that was when he
looked for and found twins. Zwillinge hed shout Twins One set of twins who survived, were Irene and Rene Slotkin. Irene remembers
when she was 5. He was wearing green, dark green. And I remember his boots, that was level with my eyes, just about. He was
asking for twins, he sounded angry, I dont know if I understood if it applied to me but we knew what we had to do, whatever
it was, fast and right away Her brother remembers At one point, I was scheduled to go to the gas chambers, I knew I would
die. We were being loaded onto trucks when this car comes out. Thats when I saw Mengele. We were taken off the truck. He stopped
the whole thing because they were going to kill his twins.
Although he told his son Rolf, 30 years later, that he didnt invent Auschwitz,
it was already there. When half dead people turned up, they were unable to work, obvious the twins owed their lives to him.
He was sure he saved many lives. But dozens of statements show otherwise. He didnt select people able to work to save their
lives but to further his research. Twins were the main thing he looked for.
And although he covered a range of experiments from bacteriology to marrow
transplants, the principal was to unlock the secrets of multiple births.
But it wasnt just to find out how fertile German women were, it was really
about preserving the best features of Aryan super-race, even down to the blue eyes, blond hair, strong healthy bodies. There
could be no weakening in the Aryan race.
Women were subject to massive doses of radiation and their ovaries were
removed to find the exact dose for sterilization. Mengeles ambition went far beyond the normal findings. Not only to preserve
the German race in purity but to further his career, certainly to impress Himmler. In one indictment at a court it was said
The accused, Josef Mengele, is charged with having carried out medical
experiments on living prisoners for scientific purposes out of ambition and personal career progression. He intended the victim
to die according to the manner of experiments and valued their lives cheaply. They often died merely to further his medical
knowledge and career
It seemed his genetics research at Auschwitz had been funded by the German
Research Council in 1943 and endorsed by Professor von Verschur. Mengele made a bizarre attempt to perfect the ideal German
by seeing if he could change the color of the eyes. This was done by injecting different color dyes, 36 children from one
barracks were used, which resulted in painful infection and sometimes blindness. After the tests they were gassed.
Two witnesses told of this. One, a doctor Vexler Jancu. In June 1943,
I saw on a wooden table, samples of eyes. They each had a number and letter. They were pale yellow to bright blue, green and
Vera Kriegal says On a wall in one of Mengeles labs were eyes, they were
pinned like butterflies. I thought I was in hell
Twins destined for Mengeles experiments were housed in Barrack 14 of
Camp F in Birkenau, nicknamed The Zoo. On Mengeles orders they were given good food, beds, hygienic conditions to build up
their health for the experiments. To the children he was Uncle Pepi they adored him, he would bring chocolate, clothes, ribbons,
Following this, they were moved to the hospital in Camp B2F for the in
vivo stage. This involved doing them while the children were alive. Records show children, twins, adult dwarfs and cripples
were sent to the hospital from July 1944. It is impossible to put a figure on the number of twins he experimented on but allegedly
200 boy twins alone were held in readiness by Mengele.
Dr Martina Puzyna was recruited by Mengele to help with the precise measurements
of skulls etc. She was ill at first and was given her own bed in special quarters and double food rations to aid her recovery.
Starting in April 1944, her work began by taking presice measurements of the Jews from mengele. She saw him at the ramps sometimes
and thought he looked quite mad. Almost until Auschwitz was
liberated in January 1945, she measured 250 pairs of twins.
After this, the twins were taken to the mens hospital, Block 15 in Camp
B2F. There he had them stripped and he examined them for hours in the minutest detail. When this was over, the real torture
began. Crude surgery and other painful tests were carried out, often without anesthetics. Needless amputations, lumber punctures,
typhus injections and wounds deliberately infected to see how each twin would react. All were devoid of any knowledge to be
gained. Many died at this stage, some from interchanging blood in twins. One experiment was described by Vera Alexander.
Two children were taken by SS. One was a hunchback. Three days later
they were brought back. They had been cut, the hunchback was sewn to the other child, back to back, their wrists also
Another set of twins surviving this said they had been given blood from
male twins so Mengele could observe the reaction. He also made female twins have sex with male twins to see if they could
also reproduce twins.
Among the indictments were nine separate allegations that involved the
deaths of 153 children, whom Mengele is alleged to have killed in order to dissect. One charge is that Mengele shot 100 children
in the back of the head for his autopsies. One of his common methods was to inject chloroform into the heart. Another was
to inject the twins with a disease and to see if they reacted the same or differently. After that they were gassed. One set
of twins who looked alike but were not related were subject to vocal chord experiments because one could sing and one couldnt.
The result was that one lost his voice totally. Not until 1984 with the help of a microphone installed in his neck, making
him sound like a computer, could he speak at all. Ironically the devise was made in Germany.
His fascination with anything connected with race was put above everything.
One father and son, the father hunchback and the son with a deformed foot, were killed then their bodies boiled so that the
flesh came away. They were then emersed in petrol to make them dry and white. Then Mengele examined them closely with some
other officers. These were then sent to Professor Von Verschuer in Berlin. After the war, Verschuer denied ever training Mengele
as his assistant, let alone of knowing what Mengele was doing. There was no prove as all correspondence between the two had
been destroyed by Verschuer.
In Mengeles custom built dissection laboratory, here in this manmade
hell, here within the bloodstained walls, Mengele sat, hunched for hours, looking into his microscope. One twin remembered
the sheer terror that gripped the barracks after nmorning roll call. He said it wasnt his face, he looked quite pleasant sometimes,
it was the atmosphere of terror and horror that mengele portrayed through the camp, especially if one of his experiments had
Mengel had no thought for the suffering of his victims or justification
for his experiments. Dr Puzyna described Mengele thus:- I found Mengele a picture of what can only be described as a maniac.
He turned the truth on its head. He believed you could create a new superrace just like breeding a horse. Man is so complex that this could never exist. He was a racist and a Nazi. He was ambitious up to
a point of being inhuman. He thought that when he had finished with the Jews, hed start on the Poles and then on someone else.
I believe he would have killed his own mother if that would help him
Experiments were also performed on others. Eight women were taken into
a room. He stood there in uniform with 3 or 4 others. There was electrical machinery the lives of which very few people had
seen. As each girl was brought in, an officer strapped her down. When they were taken out, 2 were dead, 5 were in a coma,
one was strapped to a cot. The orderly hadnt stayed to see what was done.
Many women suffered and died from blood transfusions, severe x-rays,
bone marrow transplants. Some were taken to the Black Wall between blocks 10 and 11 and shot. Their breasts were cut off and
muscles from the thighs. One woman had her breasts taped so she couldnt feed her child. He is said to have stood on pregnant
womens stomachs until the foetuses were expelled and he is even been said to dissect a 1 yr old while still alive. Not only
did he seem to enjoy it, sheer sadism but he seemed so detached from it all.
Mengeles personal acts of cruelty were usually provoked by fits of wild
and uncontrollable temper. Perhaps one of the most gruesome of all the allegations was that he had 300 children burned alive
in an open fire. This was witnessed by Mengele and Hoess. Those who crawled out, were pushed back in again. They were 5 and
under and came from Driepropetrovsk. As Mengele was never brought to trial, none of this could be cross-examined in court.
A Dr Gisella Perl, who worked under Mengele, witnessed his temper on
a few occasions. One was with a woman who managed to jump off the truck 6 times, thus had not died in the gas chambers. Mengele
saw her and was enraged. He grabbed her by the neck and beat her head to a bloody pulp, telling her she would not escape now,
she was going to burn. All that was left to push back into line, was a body with a blood red object sitting on its shoulders,
too horrible to look at. On a second occasion he made an unexpected visit to the womens hospital and found Dr Perl and friends
making a fire to cook some potatoes they had stole. The silence only lasted a second, the storm broke terribly. He ran around
like a wild beast, smashing everything, screamed and shouted. Dr Perl made a desperate plan, grabbed a jar off the shelf containing
a fetus went over to Mengele and told him he may be interested in this, telling him it was in one piece which was unusual.
He stopped raving, grabbed the jar. His face changed from a raving maniac and assumed a cruel satisfied smile, thanked her
and as if he had forgotten what went on, turned and left.
These displays of violence and total lack of remorse, suggested he was
a complex psychopath. He never suffered feelings of guilt at any stage after Auschwitz. He was quite unrepentant and felt
no shame, even two years before he died in 1979.
There are several examples of Mengele showing kindness to children, only
to have them killed. Some experts say he showed two people. The Mengele before
Auschwitz and the Mengele in Auschwitz.
He wanted to help people with the man he was before he went there but as soon as they were well, the side of him that had
developed since he went to Auschwitz, came to the surface and he killed.
To calm anxious children, he made their walk to the gas chambers a game,
he even gave them sweets but all the time it was a calculating act of a man who wanted to get all he could out of his victims.
He always maintained even to his death, that the Jews were subnormal, different from anyone else. But one did not have to
be Jewish to fear mengele. For anyone the first hint of his presence was a spine-chilling moment. They all knew that SS Hampsturn
Fuhrer Mengele was the greatest killer in the camp.
Sixteen months after he arrived at Auschwitz, his garrison commander
praised him to the hilt. He was fair, prudent, carried out his duties, impeccable demeanour of an SS officer was popular and
This picture is certainly at odds with non-commissioned SS men. The meer
mention of his name, struck fear in them all. One doctor was challenged by an SS officer for being away from his area as soon
as Mengeles name was mentioned, it was like magic. He was given everything he needed.
By the end of 1944, Megele knew, if the others wouldnt accept it, that
the Russians would liberate Auschwitz very soon. His career future faded in the closing months. He grew sullen and despondant.
He was seen pacing up and down but continued to experiment on people almost to the end. He is said to have taken 16 female
dwarfs from the hospital camp to the womens camp and did tests on them 3 days later, 5 survived.
One of the last inmates to see Mengele was a 12 year old boy called Marc
Berkowitz. He was Mengeles personal aid because of his Aryan looks. It was Xmas eve and as he passed the door, he stopped
put his hand on the boys head and told him he was a good boy and goodbye, then he was gone. Marc noticed he looked tired,
On the 17th January, Mengele left Auschwitz salvaging what
records he could about twins, cripples and dwarfs. The SS already had orders to destroy everything, including the crematoria.
From that night on, he never stopped running. He died in Paraguay on February 7th, 1979 aged 68.