How Josef Mengele Became The Angel Of Death

Starved, beaten, foul play, and dehumanized: these are only a couple of words to depict the 'prisoners' in concentration camps all around Germany amid World War II. Another word that depicts these individuals is, tests. Detainees were human test tubes, accessible in apparently boundless sums. Without any rights and zero chance of freedom, these individuals were dealt with like guinea pigs. During World War II, there were different shrewd and terrible occasions; a standout amongst the most mischievous happenings was Josef Mengele's medical investigations in the Nazi concentration camps.

Even though Mengele will go down in history as the Angel of Death, before his adulthood Mengele’s childlife was completely different. His father, Karl Mengele, was an extremely successful businessman. He owned the family factory and worked there so much that Mengele had few memories of his father. With his father nowhere to be seen, Mengele’s mother had to do everything. His mother, Walburga, was a crazy, murderous women, who literally drove Mengele crazy. There is evidence that some of the acts Mengele did were caused by how his mother treated him. Mengele once wrote about how cold-hearted his parents were, and how he felt like he needed the power of authority. Mengele was the eldest of three sons. At school, Mengele had the nickname of “Beppo”. This word is an affectionate name for a proactive young child. He was a well-behaved student, and received compliments from otherwise strict and mean teachers. In his village, he was always the best dressed, well-mannered, and all of the ladies wanted him.

At this time Mengele’s life was normal. He went on to college and avoided his parents. Going against his father’s wishes, Mengele decided not to go into business but in to the medical field. Mengele studied genetics and planned on being a professor. After receiving his PhD in physical anthropology, his life long plan was interrupted by being drafted into the army. Mengele was placed in the Infantry, and fought on the front lines. Not long after saving multiple lives, Mengele was wounded and could no longer fight for Germany. He would go to work for the Germans as a doctor at their concentration camps. After working at two camps before, he made himself known for his excelled intelligence and was moved to Auschwitz, where he was made head doctor.

During the war, Mengele made himself important for his heroic actions on the battlefront. Mengele was promoted up to the rank of Lieutenant when he saved two people, by pulling them out of a burning tank. For this act of of bravery, he was awarded the iron cross first class. On Mengele’s second tour, he received injuries that be could no longer be in the battle field. Since Mengele already had a PhD in physical anthropology, Mengele volunteered himself to go into the Nazi medical field.

As Mengele started to be known for his advanced medical knowledge, he was quickly moved to the concentration camps. He started to specialize in genetics and examined over 3000 twins, out of which 200 lived. At the camps, everyone wanted to be one of Mengele’s subjects because before any operations, they were put in their own block where they received bigger rations of food. All of Mengele’s research was performed to figure out if there was a way to change a person’s genetics, so the German Super-race could be artificially produced. To this day the living patients think Mengele is still alive, and think he is still performing on people somewhere.

Mengele’s work, unfortunately, has been important to modern day healthcare. Because of Mengele’s work we now know how to freeze blood, how twins are made, how humans react to low pressure areas like skydiving, how to cure hypothermia, and figured out how various diseases affected multiple races in different ways. In the “Zoo”, Mengele’s barracks, it was known for the high care that the residences received, like it’s extra food, nicer clothes, and less work. The fact of the matter is, it was like being on death row and getting one’s final meal. The people who were living there were headed to extremely painful operations, without the use of any anesthetics. Dr. Tobias Brocher, a co-worker of Mengele’s, once said, “Mengele did not like to inflict pain, he just liked having the power to choose life or death”. This statement is much different than an unknown officers, who wrote that Mengele liked to watch the gassings. Also one time one of Mengele’s assistants forgot to remind Mengele of an arriving train, so that assistant was thrown into the next gas chamber by Mengele himself. Mengele’s personality differs from numerous first and secondhand accounts.

Mengele had multiple reasons for doing what he did in Auschwitz: the peer pressure of Hitler, his curiosity of genetics, his thrill of having power over others, and the fact that he could no longer fight on the front lines for Germany. Another factor in Mengele’s life was his mentor in college, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main, who pushed him into getting a PhD in 1934. This caused him to receive much attention for such great knowledge.

After being moved to work for the Third Reich Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Purity, Hitler’s top assistant gave Mengele a message from Hitler saying that he would be the head doctor at Auschwitz. These reasons, and the happening in his past, like his mother and being in battle, lead him to do the actions that he did.

Mengele stopped his experimental operations when the war ended, but that is not the last of his reign. Mengele disguised himself as an infantryman when he ran from Auschwitz, and he was put in custody by U.S. officials. Mengele was let go because the U.S. officials were looking for doctors not infantry. As he was running to safety, Mengele stopped by a few different camps and did a few last operations. There was a shortage of everything, including gas. This caused the last sets of patients to be thrown into the furnace still alive. Later on, Mengele still continued research. Mengele worked on a farm in Europe under a fake alias, still doing operations in a barn, until he saw Europe as unsafe. Then used his father’s money, to “build a factory” with the partners in Argentina for his father. He was transported by human traffickers that were also his friends to Argentina in 1949. Israeli agents were the closest to finding Mengele, but some of Mengele’s friends in Argentina created false rumors about the agents that forced them to leave. During this time Mengele had countless last names, and was buried as “Wolfgang Gerhard”. In the end, Mengele died by drowning. He had a stroke while swimming. A slow, and painful death, for the Angel of Death.

Cold-hearted, cruel, evil, monster, wicked, insane, these are all words that describe Josef Mengele. Josef Mengele’s life started mostly normal. He went through life as everyone else did. As the wicked acts of war and the social reforms happening at that time start to make evil inside of him, post-traumatic stress could be to blame for pushing Mengele over the edge. Mengele had been seeking control his entire life until Auschwitz provided him with it. With all the sense of power and control, it went to his head. He started performing operations that could not have been able to done by anyone else, anywhere else. After Mengele lost his power, he realized all of the evil that he had created and lived in the shadows for the rest of his life.  

16 December 2021
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