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

 (Josef Mengele's life on the run. Picture credit: NY Times)

Continued from part one 

Josef Mengele thought he'd got away with it. He thought he was clever and smarter than everyone else and this was demonstrated in his first 10 years of being on the run from the authorities. Either he didn't think anyone was looking for him or at that point he didn't care if he was being hunted, because he openly used his real name and went about public life in Argentina.

He wasn't the only Nazi war criminal who fled there, fellow monster Adolf Eichmann along with numerous others chose Argentina as the place to be. At the time Argentina had half a million Germans living there so there was a big German community and easy for them to blend into. 

So for 10 years he used the money his wealthy family sent to him through his close connection, Hans Sedlmeier. He built a successful business for himself selling farming machinery. He lived in luxury, went to restaurants, cafes, the grocery store, all out in the open without a care in the world who saw him and at that time nobody bothered him. 

He would meet up with fellow Nazis for drinks and lunch and would do medical treatments for them as they couldn't go to a Doctor. He even met No1 Nazi fugitive Adolf Eichmann for lunch a couple of times. There was this laid-back 'We've got away with it' attitude that seemed to be going on and they were all settled and happy until Josef turned on the TV one morning and saw the news headline. 

It was 1960 and Adolf Eichmann had been captured by the Israel authorities. In that moment, Josef's life came crashing down (as I'm sure it did for a lot of the other Nazi criminals living in Argentina). They found Adolf Eichmann, kidnapped him, interrogated him and he was to be put on trial with the likelihood of being hanged for his crimes. 

Eichmann was number one on the most wanted list by Nazi hunters and Josef was second. When Mossad (Israel Intelligence) finally got their hands on Eichmann they not only wanted to take him back to Israel to face justice, they wanted to find Josef Mengele to take him back too. They kept Adolf in a safe house and repeatedly questioned him about Josef. Adolf refused to speak and denied knowing his whereabouts, eventually he finally said that he had met up with Josef a couple of times in Argentina but he didn't know his exact address. 

So this information confirmed to Mossad that they'd been looking in the right place and that Josef Mengele was alive. They continued to search and then gave up for the time being and concentrated on getting Adolf Eichmann back to Israel to face trial. 

(Adolf Eichmann. Picture credit: Times of Israel)

Josef was no stranger to using false documents and various names. Panic that he was to be next to be captured set in and he realised that he was no longer safe in Buenos Aires. He tried to be more low-key and lived on farms and took labour jobs using a false name. He kept dogs for protection and also had armed bodyguards on occasions. He and his wife Irene got divorced, she wanted to marry someone else and his father suggested that he marry his younger brother's widow. This 'arranged marriage' was purely for family business purposes. Karl didn't want the woman to marry someone outside of the family so they were married and hardly saw each other, there was the odd visit but they had to be careful and communicated with letters back and forth. Josef was very close with her son too. 

With Josef's own son Rolf, they hardly knew each other but letters would be regularly sent back and forth and Rolf only saw his father on two occasions (since he went on the run), once when he was 12 and Josef was introduced to him a 'Uncle Fritz' and later on towards the last year of Josef's life in 1977. 

Various sightings of Josef were reported to Mossad and they were investigated but nothing came of it. Adolf Eichmann was put on trial and sentenced to death, he was executed by hanging on the 1st of June 1962. 

Attentions were now fully back on Josef and a team of agents went in search of him again. This time they thought they had him in their sights, a man fitting Josef's characteristics was spotted at a location (that had been reported to them) with what looked like two bodyguards, they took pictures and returned home and requested more action to be taken, At the time Israel was facing a lot of troubles in their own country and authorities higher up decided to drop the search that they thought would be pointless. Their belief at the time was the pictures weren't enough evidence that the individual was indeed Josef Mengele, they'd wasted far too much time and money searching for him previously so they stopped their search. 

Josef was unaware that Mossad were no longer looking for him and was now living in fear and anxiety. He became a recluse and grew a moustache in an effort to hide the prominent gap in his top set of teeth. His close contact, Hans Sedelmeir had already been questioned by German authorities along with his ex wife and family about his whereabouts and each of them either said that he was dead or that they did not know where he was and this was accepted by the authorities. Like many historians and writers have said, if the German authorities had looked through the Mengele letterbox they would have found out Josef's exact location and he would have been found. 

In 1976, Josef, who was now living with a family in Sao Paulo in Brazil was declining with his health and apparently suffered from depression and thoughts of suicide. He was frail, older and had suffered a stroke. The years of being on the run and having to constantly look over his shoulder had taken their toll. 

In 1977 he wrote to his son Rolf and asked him to come and visit him before he died. He knew his health was getting worse. Rolf went to meet his father in Brazil (he used a fake passport and took $5,000 from the Mengele family to give to his father) and it was an emotional meeting. Rolf was there for two weeks and the subject of Auschwitz came up, Rolf wanted answers, he wanted to know the truth. Josef was asked about his crimes, the experiments and torture of children, the gas chambers etc and he refused to accept responsibility. He denied a lot of the allegations, claimed it was all lies and then said that he did not create Auschwitz, the camp was already there when he came along and he was just simply carrying out orders. 

As Rolf left knowing that it was highly likely to be the last time he would see his father, Josef said to him that he could die in peace now that Rolf had visited him. 

(Rolf and Josef. Picture credit: Colin Davey / Daily Mail)

Rolf Mengele later appeared on an American TV show in 1986, The Phil Donahue Show with the amazing Gerald L Posner (who co-wrote the book 'Mengele' - The complete Story with Johh Ware) and cut a sorrowful figure with so much pain on his face. I've seen many people comment about Rolf and the general view is one of sympathy. Rolf wasn't even born when Josef first went to Auschwitz, he was born in 1944 and just a child when these horrifying crimes were committed, he also had a very estranged, very distant relationship with his father. Rolf was credited for his openness to talk and go on national television to show his face and admit who and what his father was. He also participated with the Mengele book. He was criticised however for not turning in his father to the authorities. 

(Rolf on the Donahue show. Picture credit: IMDB)

On the Donahue show, Rolf sat uncomfortably with the look of utter horror on his face as Phil Donahue read out excerpts of the Mengele book about his father's crimes. Rolf said that he could not bring himself to turn his father in and was put in a difficult position. I think it's hard for a lot of us to understand but knowing what I know about Josef Mengele and his crimes, father or not I would have had to do the right thing. 

Rolf will be in his late 70s now and I don't even know if he is still alive. I can't find anything on him. He went on to lead a quiet life (not surprisingly). If anyone knows what became of Rolf, please leave a comment below. 

So, Josef had a final meeting with his son and continued to live with the family in secret. The family suggested that they go to the beach on the 7th of February 1979 and Josef was a bit hesitant as he didn't like to be out in public but it was a very warm day and he ended up agreeing to go along. They spent time on the beach and it was a beautiful day. The family encouraged Josef to take a swim and he got into the water and all seemed well at first until he swam too far in and began to have a stroke. His friends made a dash for the water and pulled him out but it was too late. Josef Mengele was dead at 67 years old. He'd lived the majority of his life on the run and many years in fear of being captured and now he was gone. 

The family buried him in a paupers grave with a false name and let his contacts including Rolf know that he was now deceased. Rolf went to visit the family to collect his fathers belongings and they claimed that they wanted to have Josef cremated but the Mengele family refused. The family also begged Rolf to keep quiet because they lived in fear of authorities catching on to them for harbouring a criminal. 

Rolf, at the time of speaking publicly in 1986 was cut off from the Mengele family. Josef's family and even the women he had been married to, refused to believe that he had done all of these sickening things, they claimed it was all lies and propaganda despite the numerous amount of evidence and witnesses presented. 

On the 31st of May 1985, the authorities were back on the tail of Josef's closest contact, Hans Sedelmeir and searched his home where they found letters from Josef Mengele together with a letter informing him of Josef's death. Authorities went straight to the location written on the letters and confronted the family who denied everything but a search of the house showed that they kept some pictures of Josef along with mementos. 

They ended up admitting the truth and led Investigators to Josef's place of burial and exhumed the remains. At first people didn't believe it, thinking he had faked his death but after forensic specialists from all over the world carefully examined the remains it was 100% determined that this was in fact Josef Mengele. The whole horrific story had come to an end, the search was completely over and he would never face justice for his crimes. 

Some believe that he did suffer in his final years and that gives them some satisfaction others believe that he had the easy way out and died on a beautiful beach in paradise and it was an insult to his numerous victims.

There were so many chances to have caught Josef Mengele but he had far too many connections and far too much money and unfortunately back then (as in many cases today) if you had the money, you could buy your way out of a situation or pay people to keep quiet. 

Rolf said that his father never showed any remorse for his crimes, for him he was just carrying out his duties and he remained a proud Nazi right up to the end. 

The Universities of both Munich and Frankfurt revoked Josef's PhD & MD after learning of his crimes. 

I think about all of those children, all of those people who were victims of Josef Mengele and of all the victims who were murdered in the holocaust. I think of the survivors who managed to live and went on to teach generations and tell their stories, incredible people like Eva Mozes Kor. It's such a heartbreaking and evil part of history that a lot of us will never understand because we are not supposed to. That level of evil is not understandable, it is unimaginable and must never be repeated again

RIP to Eva Moses Kor and the numerous victims of Josef Mengele and the evil Nazi regime. My thoughts, prayers and heart go out to anyone who suffered, who lost a loved one and to those who still live with the terrible memories today. We will never forget what happened and your stories will continue to be told for generations to come. 

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 getting through these two posts with me in this series. I will be back next week with the third instalment of my Horrific History & True Crime series with a new subject x 


  1. Of all the horrific monsters and stories to come from the Nazi regime and the atrocities to humanity that occurred at Auschwitz this is one of the worst and most disturbing. 🙊

    First I have to give a huge commendation to Caledonian Kitty for taking on such a terrifying and disturbing topic. I can only imagine the terrifying and disturbing information that had to of been poured through and thoroughly researched for this. Brilliant work and a truly incredible and riveting true crime story! 🤯

    This story should serve as a reminder for all, to never forget the lessons of history for those that fail to remember are doomed to repeat them.

  2. Thank you so much Jo for your masterful work !
    I’m so glad that you published on Dr. Josef Mengele because I wanted to know more about him especially after your latest True Crime post of last week.
    Amazing work as always but such a disturbing case to say the least !!!

    Isn’t that crazy that this monster was able to operate for so many years. So shocking to see that with connection, a monster like him was able to accomplish so many hideous crimes. Also shocking to discover that he was a decorated soldier before committed all these crimes. He could have take another path…

    The notion of “The Master Race” and to eliminate group of people is horrible. The whole Nazi regime was probably the most horrendous thing that ever happened in our world. Auschwitz was pure evilness and an abomination !
    My GOD, the selection process part give me the creeps. Human is the most vicious creature in the world.
    Oh my my !!! All the innocent victims.
    All the family that has been destroy by this inhuman regime.
    The radiation part in your post was so tough to read. All the things that has been done to women by this monster…This man is the cruelest person in the world, I’m in disbelief. The poor twins, the children…all these atrocities.

    Eva Moses Kor was a survivor, I was so touched by the way you’ve been writing about her.

    He was able to escape and live with his crimes and he was proud of all of them.

    Adolf Eichmann got what he deserves even if death penality will never bringing back anybody.

    Now, I have so many documentaries and interviews to watch ! I’ll start with Rolf Mengele and The Phil Donahue Show.

    I’m so emotional as I’m finishing reading your post.

    RIP to all the victims of this monster.

    Thank you for your incredible and amazing work Jo Xx