The majority of the 20th century’s history is one that most people would want to forget. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to erase some events, especially if they result in tragic losses of lives. Speaking of which, Josef Mengele is a name that can’t be forgotten easily. Nicknamed “Angel of Death,” Josef Mengele was a German Schutzstaffel (SS) officer and physician known for performing deadly experiments on prisoners at the Auschwitz 11 (Birkenau) concentration camp. He was the one who decided those who would be murdered in the gas chamber and those who lived. For history lovers, here are some grueling Josef Mengele facts you (probably) didn’t know.

1. Most of Josef Mengele’s Experiments Were Focused on Twins

While Josef Mengele pretty much decided who lived and who died during the holocaust, he was particularly intrigued by twins. He performed experiments on them without regard for their safety and health.

In one of the harrowing tales, Josef Mengele sewed two twins together back to back in an attempt to conjoin them. Unfortunately, the kids died of gangrene after several days of intense suffering. There was also a time when the physician injected the hearts of 14 twins with chloroform. They all died.

Other than twins, Josef Mengele also experimented with people with heterochromia iridium (eyes of different colors), dwarfs, and those with physical abnormalities.

2. Josef Mengele Did Unspeakable Things in the Name of Experiments

As far as medical malpractice is concerned, Josef Mengele is up there with the all-time best. He performed unspeakable experiments, including:

  • Injecting chemicals into prisoner’s eyes to change their eye color
  • Removing the eyes of inmates and pinning them on the walls like butterflies
  • Forcing people to undergo unwarranted X-ray treatments and drugs
  • Removing the stomachs of pregnant women without anesthesia

3. He Ordered the Killing of about 600 Jewish Women to Prevent a Typhus Epidemic

Sometimes known as typhus fever, typhus is a group of infectious diseases with symptoms such as headache, rashes, and fever. In 1944, a typhus epidemic began at a women’s concentration camp, so Josef Mengele had to make a decision.

In his view, the best way to prevent the epidemic was to send a block of about 600 Jewish women to be killed in gas chambers. After the occupants were sent away, the building was cleaned and disinfected before the occupants of a neighboring block were placed there. This process continued until all the barracks were disinfected. The same was done for later epidemics such as scarlet fever.

Believe it or not, Josef Mengele was awarded the War Merit Cross (Second Class with swords) and was promoted for these actions.

4. There Is an Incredible Story of a Man Who Survived One of Josef Mengele’s Experiments

Not many people chosen for Joseph Mengele’s experiments survived. However, Yitzhak Ganon’s story is incredible! The Greek-born Jew survived an ordeal where Josef Mengele removed his kidney without anesthesia. He also survived a gas chamber execution as he was the 201st person in line for a chamber of 200 people.

5. Josef Mengele Was a Qualified Physician

After learning about some of Josef Mengele’s atrocious actions, one might wonder whether he was a qualified physician – it turns out he was! Before he was transferred to the Nazi concentration camps, Josef Mengele had received doctorates in medicine and anthropology from the University of Munich.

He was a researcher whose ambitions were fueled negatively when he was put in charge of concentration camps; he saw an opportunity to try his wildest experiments and took it.

6. He Was Never Brought to Book

When Josef Mengele sensed his time in Germany was ending, he fled to Argentina in July 1949 with the aid of a network of former SS members. Given that he was wanted, he didn’t stay in one place for long. He originally lived in and around Buenos Aires but later fled to Paraguay and eventually Brazil, where he met his death.

Some of the people/entities that actively sought Josef Mengele’s arrest include Israel, West Germany, and Nazi hunters such as Simon Wiesenthal.

7. His Family Refused to Take His Remains Back to Germany

Josef Mengele died in 1979 after suffering a stroke while swimming at a beach in South America and was buried under the false name of Wolfgang Gerhard. After some time, his body was exhumed and positively identified.

Interestingly, his family refused to take his remains back to Germany despite the Brazilian government’s efforts to persuade them. Today, the skeleton is at Sao Paulo Institute for Forensic Medicine, where it is used as an educational aid.

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General Knowledge, People,

Last Update: June 3, 2024