Mengele, Josef

(1911-1978?), doctor and SS officer, in May 1943 he volunteered to go to Auschwitz and remained there until its evacuation on January 18, 1945. He was noted for his sadism.

Mengele played a prominent role in the selections where deportees were either sent to be registered in the camp or sent to immediate extermination. Mengele's imperious presence at these selections is noted in numerous survivor memoirs.

Mengele also conducted pseudoscientific experiments at Auschwitz using twins and dwarfs as human guinea pigs. One series of experiments involved dripping chemicals into his victims' eyes in order to attempt to change their color. He killed his victims himself with injections into their hearts and carried out postmortem examinations on their bodies.

Mengele's doctoral disertation was titled "The Racial Morphological Investigation of the Front Submaxilla Section in Four Racial Groups." His research in this regard has been called a precursor to his later work in Auschwitz.

In 1949 Mengele turned up in Argentina where he was given asylum. In 1960 West Germany asked for his extradition, but Mengele escaped to Brazil and from there to Paraguay. He reputedly drowned in a swimming accident in Brazil in 1978.

Sources: Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle; Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.

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