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Pope Francis kisses number tattooed on the arm of Auschwitz prisoner, 80


Dr. Josef Mengele, an SS physician from 1943 to 1945, was known as the 'Angel of Death' for overseeing gruesome experiments at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland

Dr. Josef Mengele, an SS physician from 1943 to 1945, was known as the ‘Angel of Death’ for overseeing gruesome experiments at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland

Immaculately dressed, it was Josef Mengele who greeted doomed arrivals at the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz, in occupied Poland.

With a flick of his gloved hands, the supreme arbiter of life and death would consign terrified prisoners either to work or to death in the gas chambers.

But many were condemned to an altogether more diabolical fate; they became guinea pigs upon his operating table as he pursued his berserk quest to clone blue-eyed Aryan supermen. Most of his victims died in terrible pain without anaesthetic.

Captivated by oddities, victims of Mengele’s medical experiments were chosen based on different eye colors, growth anomalies such as a clubfoot or a hunchback, giantism or dwarfism, twins and gypsies. 

A choice ‘specimen’ he sent to his lab for study was the head of a 12-year-old boy he was going to dissect.

Twins held a particular fascination for him and it’s estimated that he examined around 3,000 – but only 100 pairs survived. 

Mengele once impregnated one twin with the sperm from a different twin to see if she would produce twins.

When there was only one baby, one survivor claimed he tore the baby out of the mother’s uterus and threw the child into an oven and walked away.

Mengele had a doctorate in medicine from Frankfurt University, but used his knowledge in a sickening manner at the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he performed experiments as an SS physician from 1943 to 1945.

The so-called Angel of Death was on the Allied commanders' most-wanted list from 1944, but he escaped to South America and was never found

The so-called Angel of Death was on the Allied commanders’ most-wanted list from 1944, but he escaped to South America and was never found

Although prisoners transferred to his wing to be studied escaped the gas chambers and were well fed, they often ultimately met an even more painful death.

Mengele regularly performed surgery without anaesthetic and would obtain bodies to work on simply by injecting chloroform into inmates’ hearts while they slept, which would kill them in seconds.

He was most interested in heredity and once tried to change the colour of children’s eyes by injecting chemicals directly into them.

Pregnant women were also singled out. He was known to have performed vivisections on them before consigning them to the death chambers.

Prisoners suffering from schizophrenia and depression were subjected to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

The goal was to treat incapacitated prisoners so that they could return to the work force.

Most of the experiments were unsuccessful and led to the death of the prisoners.

The so-called Angel of Death was on the Allied commanders’ most-wanted list from 1944, but he escaped to South America and was never found, despite the best efforts of private investigators and the Israeli secret service, Mossad.

He died in 1979 after suffering a stroke while swimming and thirteen years later, DNA tests proved his identity beyond doubt. 



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