Inhuman: The Life & Sadistic Crimes of Dr Josef Mengele - The Angel of Death of Auschwitz | Horrific History & True Crime Series With Caledonian Kitty | Part One

(Josef Mengele: Both pictures credited to the BBC)

I knew that out of the evil individuals that I would be researching and writing about for this series, that this one was going to be a real challenge. Josef Mengele was a name that was notorious with Auschwitz concentration camp and he was the world's most infamous Nazi fugitive. What made this man so dangerous was not only was he highly intelligent and pure evil, he came from a wealthy background, had friends and connections in high places and was able to avoid capture for 35 years!

Money, connections and cover-ups were Josef Mengele's best friends and they saved him from the hang man's noose. I'm going to cover his story here and in part two and as you probably know some of his crimes, you won't be surprised for me to tell you that I will be sharing some very gruesome and horrendous details. Some of the details included here you may already know and some you may not. I have spent hours upon hours doing my research and even I have uncovered things I never knew before. 

So, let's get into it. 

Josef Mengele, who was the eldest of three sons, was born on the 16th of March 1911 in Gunzburg, Germany to parents Karl and Walburga. He came from a wealthy family who made farm machinery so Josef grew up wanting for nothing and never had to worry about money. He had a decent childhood, no traumatic events, no reports of strange behaviour or signs of what was to come later. He was a great student and did well academically. He had the choice to follow in his father's footsteps and work within the family company but Josef was very independent and wanted to make a name for himself in his own way. He wanted to do something in the military or medical field. 

He managed to combine both and spent some time studying at University where he gained a PhD in Anthropology (from the University of Munich) and an MD (from the University of Frankfurt). During his studies he was mentored by another infamous Nazi physician called Otmar Freiherr Von Verschuer. Josef was Otmar's star pupil and the pair remained close in the following years. Otmar was a human biologist and Nazi who was obsessed with genetics and twins (a path that Josef had been studying himself and later became obsessed with). 

Being a follower of the Nazi regime, he joined the Nazi party in his early 20s and became an SS officer on the front line, his studies in genetics were put on hold. He became a decorated soldier and a hero as he managed to save the lives of two fellow soldiers. He was awarded the Iron Cross as well as other medals for his exemplary service, however, things came to a halt when he suffered injuries on the front line and was declared unfit for service. Not one to give up his career in the SS (he was proud of being a recognised Nazi and was so ambitious) he decided to return to the medical field. 

Josef (to some people) at the time would have been described as a handsome young man, he was always immaculately dressed and was never short of female attention. He was self-conscious about the slight gap in his upper teeth and the fact that with his dark hair and slightly tanned skin, he looked a bit exotic. The Nazis were obsessed with carrying on and multiplying what they called 'The Master race'. Anyone from a Jewish background or any background they deemed 'Not 100% pure German' or if someone happened to be disabled or homosexual they believed these people were to be banished off the face of the earth. They wanted blond hair, blue eyes and white skin. Anyone who had an exotic look to them would be viewed with suspicion (and in a lot of cases, murdered in the gas chambers, shot or worked to death) 

In 1939, Josef married his first wife Irene, a woman he had met during his medical studies and the marriage was said to be a happy one. 

His long time mentor Otmar recommended that he go to Auschwitz concentration camp and wrote a letter of reference for him. Josef, with all of his credentials, passed the application process (not that the Nazi's were fussy who they took on board as I mentioned in my last post) and went to Auschwitz in 1942 just 2 months after his 32 birthday. At that time, Being 32 and having achieved so much in his medical and military career, Josef was seen as not only a shining star but an up and coming young scientist. Otmar and Josef believed they were on the verge of something great that would make them world famous scientists in the genetic field. They were obsessed with unlocking what they called 'The Secret Twin Code'. They wanted to multiply 'The Master Race' and believed that twins had the answer so their studies were focused on them. 

(Auschwitz. Picture credit: Britannica)

Josef Mengele remained at Auschwitz from 1942 to 1945 and some would say that he wasn't there that long but what he had done in his time there was enough to give him not only the nickname 'The Angel of Death' but 'The Most Evil Man In The World'. 

Josef hit the ground running when he arrived at Auschwitz and treated the place like it was his own personal human laboratory with human guinea pigs. He enjoyed watching the cramped trains that were packed full of starving, terrified people pull into the ramps at Auschwitz. He would stand there in his uniform with a white coat over the top, sometimes with a stick or sometimes with a cigarette (he was a chain smoker) and would often be seen smiling or whistling. 

Josef wasn't the only Doctor at Auschwitz, there were others, some were Nazi Doctors and some were prisoners. He was promoted into a more senior role and pretty much did what he wanted when he wanted. The other Nazi Doctors hated doing the selection process, they found it to be depressing and stressful (as sick as the Nazis were, there was the odd one or two who had their limits to how much suffering they could enforce on people). 

In the selection process, Josef would organise the people coming off of the trains into two groups, one group to the left (sent straight to the gas chamber) and one to the right (sent to work in the camp). This was a life and death situation which he enjoyed immensely. His focus was finding as many twins as he could for his 'experiments' but with everyone else he would put all elderly, disabled and young children straight to the line for the gas chamber to be murdered immediately and would select what he deemed to be strong, young and healthy people to be put in the other line to be sent to work. The people who were sent to work were in no means meant to be saved, his plan was that they would work but be worked to death. The plan for death was the same for all of these people whether it be straight to the gas chamber on arrival or a slow drawn out agony of starvation, illness and exhaustion until their bodies couldn't take any more. 

The women were all sent to block 10 and were regularly selected for sterilization, horrific sexual assaults or other horrendous procedures. Every day groups of men and women would be taken to one of the blocks and put into one of the rooms under the pretence that they were to fill in medical forms. There was a window looking into this room where Nazi Doctors would stand (Josef, often in attendance) and operate the levels of a machine that was on the other side in the room with the people. The room was then filled with extreme levels of radiation that in the space of only 3 minutes was able to destroy the reproductive organs of both the men and the women thus sterilizing the women and castrating the men. A lot of the time, prisoners were unaware that this was happening to them, they were awake for this sickening procedure. 

Some female prisoners would be subjected to injections of various substances into their uterus that would basically block their Fallopian tubes, this was an extremely painful procedure. 

Although Josef was fixated on experimenting on twins, he carried out a lot of horrific procedures and 'experiments' on women that included: 

- Jumping on a pregnant woman's stomach until she miscarried.

- Forcing a new mother to tape up her breasts so that he could see how long it would take for her newborn baby to starve to death. 

- He would dissect babies and toddlers when they were still alive. 

- He would stitch people's skin together.

- He would often select groups of children to take to the gas chamber and give them sweets (the children nicknamed Josef 'The Good uncle' because he would bring them candy in order to get them to co-operate with him). Whilst they walked in front of him he would shoot them in the back of the head. 

- He would beat women to death with his bare hands. 

- He would force twins to have sex with each other to see if twins could produce others sets of twins.

- He would have women stripped naked in the pouring rain or snow and force them to run around in front of him whilst he watched and humiliated them.

- He would inject dye into people's eyes in an effort to try and change their eye colour. 

- He once grabbed a newborn baby from his mother's arms, by the head and threw the child violently onto a pile of rotting dead bodies. 

- Himself with a group of fellow SS guards, created a burning pit and threw children (who were still alive) under the age of five into the burning flames. When some of the children tried to crawl out, Josef and the other monsters would push them back in with sticks or shoot them. 

And the list of these sickening atrocities continued in his experiments with twins. Twins would be subjected to all sorts of horrors and excruciating pain. His usual routine would be to inject one twin with various substances or diseases and leave the other twin in a normal state. He would often drain them of pints of blood. Every day he would compare the vitals of the twins to see how long it would take for one of them to die. Once one twin had died, he would inject chloroform straight into the heart of the surviving twin so that both children had died at approximately the same time. 

He would then rush both of the children onto his examination tables and do comparative autopsies. Eyeballs and other organs were removed and packaged up to be sent to Otmar Freiherr Von Verschuer in a box labeled 'War Materials'. Survivors have recalled seeing a wall of human eyes in one of Josef's medical rooms. 

Josef's medical rooms were kitted out with the best equipment, antiques and paintings. The floor was made of red concrete. It looked liked something out of a professional hospital. 

You may have come across the incredible Eva Mozes Kor whenever reading about Josef Mengele or watching a documentary about him. To say she was an incredible woman is an understatement! Sadly she passed away in 2019 at the age of 85 but it gives me a little comfort to know that she went on to live a long life and became the icon that we love and know today. Eva and her sister Miriam were cruelly ripped from their mother's arms when they were forced off of the train at Auschwitz. Eva could only watch powerless as their mother was dragged away never to be seen again. She was just 10 years old and both she and Miriam were subjected to Josef's cruel experiments. 

Eva would endure constant injections of various diseases and suffer the pain, the swellings and rashes all over her body. Blood would be taken from her regularly and she would fade in an out of consciousness. On one occasion when her little body was barely hanging on to life she recalled Josef Mengele coming into the room with some other Doctors. She overheard him saying that she had two weeks to live whilst laughing. Eva was determined to hang on and survive. She wanted to be strong for both her and her sister. In the end, not only did Eva manage to save her own life against all odds, she saved her sister's too. Luckily both girls were still alive when the camp was liberated in 1945. Eva became an inspirational speaker and travelled the world (how amazing it would have been to have met such an incredible person) sharing her story. She was amazing and will never be forgotten. A lot of people who suffered in Auschwitz couldn't bare to talk about the atrocities they went through and that's understandable but Eva wanted the world to know, she wanted younger generations to know. She was a remarkable person who wanted peace and unity. 

I will leave some links below about Eva if you would like to know more about her. 

(Eva Moses Kor: Picture credit The Columbia Star)

Whilst Josef Mengele was busy destroying lives in Auschwitz his first and only child Rolf was born in 1944. This relationship would be a difficult one as both father and son were not only different in personalities but the results of what was to come less than a year later proved for them to bond would become increasingly difficult with the circumstances. 

The horrendous living nightmare that was the holocaust and Auschwitz was to come to an end in January 1945. Josef Mengele and some of his fellow Nazi war criminals knew the net was closing in 10 days before the Red Army arrived and managed to escape. Josef Mengele had conducted 'experiments' on 3000 sets of twins at Auschwitz and only 300 of these children survived. He was also responsible for numerous other murders and 'experiments'. 

Just 10 days before the liberation, Josef (who was proud of his sadistic work at Auschwitz and a proud Nazi) packed up all of his medical files in a suitcase, disguised himself and managed to escape. It was easy for him to do so at the time because the camp was in sheer chaos with prisoners everywhere and Nazis trying to blow up buildings and burn documents. The initial orders from above was that all the remaining prisoners in the camp were to be murdered and some were but the remaining Nazis were too busy trying to save their own skin and make a run for it that many of the prisoners were left alive. 

The first of many close shaves for Josef came when American soldiers managed to get hold of him and took him away for investigation. The so-called investigation included Josef along with some other SS soldiers being questioned (of course they all lied) and being subjected to having their arms examined. It was standard practice that as soon as a soldier joined the SS, his blood group would be tattooed under his arm. On a very rare occasion, Josef refused at the time to have this tattoo and this is what saved him. The American soldiers believed that he was not part of the SS because he did not have this tattoo and he was set free. 

So Josef Mengele, the monster responsible for the horrendous torture and murder of innocent people, the majority of them young children and babies was free to do as he pleased and with his money and connections. He remained in Germany at first, going straight to his family and stayed with them for a few years (nobody was looking for him) before he was off on a plane with his fake passport to live the high life in Buenos Aires in Argentina. 

To be continued in part two....

Further Reading & Sources

Mengele: The Complete Story | Book by Gerald L. Posner & John Ware

The Nazis: A Warning From History | Book by Laurence Rees

Auschwitz | Book by Laurence Rees

The Nazis: A Warning From History | BBC Documentary Series

The Nazis & The Final Solution | BBC Documentary

WW2 Articles | War History Online

Nazi War Criminal: Mengele | World In Action (1978, Documentary)

Nazi Hunters | Timeline (Documentary)

Rolf Mengele: Interview on The Donahue Show (1986) | Gerald Posner's Youtube Channel

Josef Mengele | Wikipedia

Josef Mengele | Holocaust Encyclopedia

Eva Moses Kor | Timeline Documentary

Auschwitz | Memorial & Museum

Thank you for reading part one, click here for part two x 

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