Josef Mengele and His NAZI Medical Experiments Essay Example
Josef Mengele, German physician, SS captain and known as the “Angel of Death,” or the “White Angel”, is infamous for his inhumane medical experiments during the Holocaust. Mengele was likely given the title of “Angel of Death” because of his efficiency and relish for the job of selecting who would be sent to the gas chambers, though it is unknown who originally coined the title for him. The Angel of Death is a figure from the Old Testament and biblical lore states that he assumed the form of a physician, making the title a haunting coincidence.
Although his number one interest was in twins, and his experiments involving them are what we have the most information on, Mengele was also deeply interested in dwarfs and growth disturbances, people with Heterochromia, and Noma (a gangrenous condition of the face and mouth). Josef Mengele can arguably be named one of Earth’s most devilish human beings because of him giving the illusion of being a kind man from an outsider’s perspective, only to force countless innocent people through horrible experiments and get away with it for the most part for the rest of his life.
On the outside, Josef Mengele seemed to be a decent man. He has been described by former inmates as “an elegant figure on the ramp -- handsome, well groomed, extremely upright in posture” and “good-looking, . . . very cultivated, he really didn’t look like a murderer” (Lifton 342-343). One Holocaust survivor, Vera Blau, even went so far as to be quoted saying “I believe Josef Mengele loved children--even though he was a murderer and a killer. Yes! I Remember him as a gentle man.” (Lagnado 67). However, his physical appearance was just a simple front and not everyone believed him to be a good man.
Dr. Wanda J., the gynecologist at Auschwitz, claimed that “the devil should speak to him” (Lifton 345) and never exchanged a single word with Mengele. This sort of reaction is well-deserved, as Mengele treated majority of people in an incredibly awful way -- hitting inmates with sticks or his cane, ridiculing inmates, sending inmates to the gas chambers for little actions such as asking for light work, and shooting prisoners, among other things. This is not even including the medical experiments he performed, which are arguably the worst things he did during the Holocaust because of the extended pain and suffering that his patients had to endure.
It is assumed that Josef Mengele mainly came to Auschwitz for the main purpose of being able to experiment on twins. Twins chosen by Mengele had special status and were frequently allowed to keep their own clothing and occasionally their hair, as opposed to being forced into inmate rags and having their heads shaved. They were also given a special number sequence for their tattooed number. In many cases, this meant having “ZW” (standing for Zwillinge, meaning twins) as a part of their sequence.
Twins’ special statuses also could extend to the mothers of twins, who were sometimes allowed to stay on their block with their children, if they were a pair of young female twins. This was done out of Mengele’s concern that the children remained in good mental and physical health. Twins were drawn to Mengele because of how kindly he had first treated them. One twin survivor, only known as A., summed up his feelings towards Mengele by saying “For us, for twins, [he was] like a papa, like a mama. For us. On the other hand, he was a murderer.” (Lifton 356) and still struggles to truly believe that Mengele did the horrible things that he did. A. is not alone in feeling like this. Several other twin survivors that had been interviewed have had difficulty coming to terms with the fact that Mengele’s affection towards them had not been genuine, but had only been done in order to make them more cooperative in the research.
Mengele’s experiments on twins included transfusion of blood from one twin to the other, putting drops or injections into the eyes in order to turn them blue, organ removal, amputation, and purposefully giving diseases such as typhus and tuberculosis to one twin but not the other. There were countless experiments done on twins, but it is impossible to ever know the full scope of these experiments because records are sparse. Despite this, there are many testimonies from twins that survived Mengele’s cruel tests.
One survivor, Eva Mozes, describes her experience as her being “marked, painted, measured, observed … It was all so demeaning … They compared every part of our body with that of our twin. The tests would last for hours. And Mengele was always there, supervising.” (Lagnado 64). Another twin survivor, Solomon Malik, described the experience by saying that “Mengele once put a needle in my arm -- only the needle, not the syringe. Blood started spurting out. He calmly placed the blood in a test tube. Then, he gave me a sugar cube.” (Lagnado 65). These sorts of actions made by Mengele are just the tip of the iceberg. Mengele’s eye studies, for example, have less testimonies because they were more lethal.
Assistants to Mengele used eye-drops or needles to insert chemicals into the eyes of children in an attempt to change their eye color. On top of this, Mengele’s old professor, Othmar von Verschuer, had an interest in heterochromatic eyes. In order to satisfy the professor’s desires, Mengele would send inmates with Heterochromia to the gas chambers and then ship their eyes to the professor in Berlin. Because of the lethal nature, there is understandably no testimonies from survivors on this matter.
With Josef Mengele committing so many atrocities, it can be easy to wonder how he was able to get away with what he did. The answer is simple: his position of power. Although he was not the highest-ranking physician at the camp, he still held the title of Chief Camp Physician as well as the chief provider for the gas chambers and their crematoria.