2nd World War History ~ Key Players

Objectives: To look into the backgrounds of as many of the key players in the Second World War as time permits. To try to convey the history of the 2nd World War in a concise and easy - to - read way as possible and how such War Crimes came about and the men responsible for those War Crimes.

Header Photo: Josef Mengele in 1956. Photo taken by a police photographer in Buenos Aires for Mengele's Argentine identification document. It's worth noting that with the mythology of Mengele's years on the run in South America and how elusive he was, the reality is more prosaic. Up to at least 1958, some thirteen years after the end of the war, he was in the phone book in Buenos Aires so could have been traced via there.

Josef Mengele: At A Glance >> Early Life >> Education and beginning of WWII >> Auschwitz >> On the Run >> The Running Years - Me Thinking Outloud >> Facts

Adolf Hitler >> Heinrich Himmler >> Josef Goebbels >> Triumph of the Will >> Triumph of the Will 2 Dvd >> Leni Riefenstahl >> Rudolf Hess >> Martin Bormann >> Herman Goering >> Who Helped Hermann Goering Escape The Hangman? >> Josef Mengele >> Adolf Eichman >> Irma Grese

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Josef Mengele ~ At A Glance

SS physician at Auschwitz, notorious for pseudo-medical experiments, especially on twins and Gypsies. He "selected" new arrivals by simply pointing to the right or the left, thus separating those considered able to work from those who were not. Those too weak or too old to work were sent straight to the gas chambers, after all their possessions, including their clothes, were taken for resale in Germany. After the war, he spent some time in a British internment hospital but disappeared, went underground, escaped to Argentina, and later to Paraguay, where he became a citizen in 1959. He was hunted by Interpol, Israeli agents, and Simon Wiesenthal. In 1986, his body was found in Embu, Brazil.

Josef Mengele ~ Early Life

Born March 16, 1911 in Günzburg, Germany

Parents were Karl (1881-1959) and Walburga (d. 1946) Mengele

Two younger brothers: Karl (1912-1949) and Alois (1914-1974)

Nickname was "Beppo"

1926 diagnosed with osteomyelitis

Dr Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele

Josef Mengele ~ Education and beginning of WWII

1930 graduated from the Gymnasium

March 1931 joined the Steel Helmuts (Stahlhelm)

January 1934 SA absorbsed Stahlhelm

October 1934 left SA because of kidney trouble

1935 awarded PhD from the University of Munich

January 1, 1937 appointed a research assistant at the Third Reich Institute for Heredity, Biology, and Racial Purity at the University of Frankfurt; worked with Professor Otmar Freiherr von Vershuer

May 1937 joined the NSDAP (member #5574974)

May 1938 admitted to the SS

July 1938 awarded medical degree by University of Frankfurt

October 1938 began basic training with the Wehrmacht (lasted three months)

July 1939 married Irene Schoenbein

June 1940 joined the medical corps (Sanitätsinspektion) of the Waffen SS

August 1940 appointed an Untersturmführer

Attached to Genealogical Section of the Race and Resettlement Office in occupied Poland

June 1941 sent to the Ukraine as part of the Waffen SS; received the Iron Cross, Second Class

January 1942 joined the Waffen SS's Viking Division medical corps; earned the Iron Cross, First Class by pulling two soldiers out of a burning tank while under enemy fire; also awarded the Black Badge for the Wounded and the Medal for the Care of the German People; wounded

End of 1942 reposted to the Race and Resettlement Office, this time in its headquarters in Berlin

Appointed to Haupsturmführer (captain)

Josef Mengele ~ Auschwitz

May 30, 1943 arrived at Auschwitz

Conducted medical experiments on twins, dwarfs, giants, and many others

Seemingly constant presence and participation in the selections at the camp

Responsible for selections in the women's camp

Called "Angel of Death"

March 11, 1944 his son, Rolf, was born

Sometime middle of January 1945, he fled Auschwitz

Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele

Josef Mengele ~ On The Run

Arrived at Gross-Rosen camp; then left before Russians liberated it on February 11, 1945

Spotted at Mauthausen

Captured as prisoner of war and held in a POW camp near Munich

Received papers from fellow prisoner, Dr. Fritz Ulmann; for vanity reasons had not gotten blood type tattooed beneath arm, American Army did not realize he was a member of the SS and released him

Aliases include: Fritz Ulmann, Fritz Hollmann, Helmut Gregor, G. Helmuth, Jose Mengele, Ludwig Gregor, Wolfgang Gerhard

Remained on George Fischer's farm for three years

1949 escaped to Argentina

1954 his father came to visit him

1954 divorced from Irene

1958 married his brother, Karl's, widow - Martha Mengele

June 7, 1959 West Germany issued its first arrest warrant for Mengele

1959 moved to Paraguay

1964 the Universities of Frankfurt and Munich withdrew his academic degrees

Assumed that his remains were buried in Embu, Brazil in a grave marked "Wolfgang Gerhard"

Believed to have died on February 7, 1979 on the beach at Bertioga in Embu, Brazil while suffering a stroke while swimming in the ocean.

February 1985 a public trial, in absentia, was held at Yad Vashem

In June 1985, the body in the grave was exhumed for forensic identification.

The Running Years ~ Me Thinking Outloud

I've always wondered what it must have been like to have been inside the head of Mengele in what I call 'The Running Years'. The years I mean are those between around 1959 to his death on the Brazilian beach in 1979 which the world at large would only know of a few years later.

Up to 1958 he was still in the phone book in Buenos Aires, ten years after arriving in Argentina, so he must of felt some kind of security. But then, everything changed. The arrest warrant was issued, a run in with authorities over abortions and the publicity it could generate figured large, and then came the moment when everything changed, when whatever had come to pass as a 'normal' life, travelled on a one way track to the past.

The capture of Eichmann by Mossad. When Eichmann tasted the mud of a Buenos Aires roadside as he wrestled in vain with his captors and the world came to know of his capture, Mengele tasted the mud of the land where you are free but imprisoned at the same time. It tastes like dog turd. He must have realised that he would be forever running from the same fate. Stop and stand still and he too would befall Eichman's fate. Run, run and run and there was a chance he could keep at arm's bay the responsibility of his crimes at Auschwitz. Well for another day at least, for if you are on the run 'the day' is all you have.

I remember seeing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the epic chase of them by the hunter with no face. All you see from a distance is the white hat. He's relentess; the chase is inexorable; he will not rest until he's standing six feet over you. Mossad would have no face, no name, no nothing. To paraphrase the great Jack Dempsey, Mossad were never goin' to write him a letter to let him know of their visit. It would have been as sudden and brutal as befits anyone aka 'The Angel of Death'. They could strike at anytime and by the time Mengele would have known about it it would have been too late. Imagine having that thought in your mind of every second of every day. How can you enjoy anything but the second you're in for the next second could be the last second of a life on the run.

A Bolivian firing squad would have been as nothing to the wrath of Israel. Anyone who had 'Physician in Auschwitz' on his CV could have expected no better.

By the 1970s, Mengele on the run was one of the great unexplained mysteries of the times. Just where was he? South America, probaly. Halfway homes, powerful backers, strange places far, far away ... always in the shadows, always a ghost no one could see let alone capture, he was as elusive as Lord Lucan or Jack the Ripper. But he had to be somewhere.

In the UK, a classic World in Action investigate docu. (the dramatic organ opening soundtrack and all that), The Hunt for Doctor Mengele, brought Mengele into the homes of millions in the 1970s. Hollywood got hold of the story and spewed out The Boys from Brazil. Olivier however did a brilliantly sinister turn as a Mengele clone in The Marathon Man ('is it safe?'). 'The Running Man' indeed became 'The Marathon Man' in terms of the fascination with his exhausting flight from capture because of these films.

He was still alive when they were made. I wonder if he saw them somewhere in one of those secret places he now called home?

He evaded capture until the world was standing six foot over him albeit six long years after his death in 1985. All he left was a pile of bones neatly assembled for the camera with a smiling skleletal head, a 3 second ghostly appearance on film, and words from his handsome son on meeting his father as an old man. Oh, and pictures of him as an old man with a grey moustache looking a little sinister if you realise that those twinkling eyes behind the moustache once twinkled in another time and another place. Those children, well the few who survived, would never forget those eyes.

© Paul Page

Recommended Reading: Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz

Facts & Rumours

Left Auschwitz for the last time on a cold winter's night on the 17th January 1945. Took all his research data on twins.

Of the 3,000 'Mengele Twins' only 180 survived.

It wasn't until 1992, with the advent of DNA, that it could be pronounced that the body found in the cemetery near Sao Paolo, was that of Mengele's.

Went to Munich University.

Studied anthropology.

Unlike Eichmann it is doubtful Hitler had ever heard of Mengele.

His first wife later said of him: 'He was always such a nice man'. Love is blind and all that.

Was an assistant to Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, Verscher's son would later denounce his father's experiments on twins.

Was an SS Medical Officer in the East.

Attended the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology in Berlin.

Leah and Hedva Stern were one of the pair of twins who survived Mengele. Rachel Zehira was another of the few who survived as did Eva and Miriam Mozes, and Magda and Vera Sattler. It would be good to put here or create another page of the names of all the twins who survived and also those that didn't. Not sure if it is elesewhere but using these two e-mail links will let me start that list.

Dr Ella Lingens, a prisoner in Auschwitz, met Mengele in September 1944.

In the summer of 1946 his wife always insisted to US officers that her husband was dead.

His son, Rolf, met him towards the end of his life. Photos exist from their meeting.

The 30 year Freedom From Prosecution Laws which applied to some Nazis did not apply to Mengele - such was the severity of his crimes.

He was very handsome according to many of the survivors. Their nickname for him was Rudolf Valentino.

Entered Buenos Aires in 1949 on a false Internation Red Cross Passport issued in Geneo, Italy. Photo on the passport was that of of his younger brother.

Took out a mortgage in Argentina as Jose Mengele.

Owned a small textile company in Buenos Aires.

Met Eichmann at a German restaurant in Buenos Aires.

Mengele left the boarding house a couple of weeks before Mossad arrived there, after their capture of Eichmann.

Acquired Paraguayan citizenship when on the run from Argentina after the Israeli Secret Service, West German government and Argentinian authorities.

Recommended Reading: Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Penguin Modern Classics)

Links

Josef Mengele: At A Glance >> Early Life >> Education and beginning of WWII >> Auschwitz >> On the Run >> The Running Years - Me Thinking Outloud >> Facts

Recommended Link ~ Who Helped Goering Escape The Hangman: The mystery of how Hitler's deputy Hermann Goering committed suicide hours before he was due to hang may finally have been solved. A former Nuremberg guard says he supplied the Nazi war criminal with the cyanide pill he took to kill himself...more

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Hermann Goering - Who Helped Goering Escape The Hangman

Adolf Hitler >> Heinrich Himmler >> Josef Goebbels >> Triumph of the Will >> Triumph of the Will 2 Dvd >> Leni Riefenstahl >> Rudolf Hess >> Martin Bormann >> Herman Goering >> Who Helped Hermann Goering Escape The Hangman? >> Josef Mengele >> Adolf Eichman >> Irma Grese

Kristallnacht >> The Final Solution >> Auschwitz >> Nuremberg Party Rallies

Daily Mail - 2nd May 1945 >> Daily Mail - 3rd May 1945 >> Daily Mail - VE Day - It's All Over >> Scans added of the best books of Germany during the war and after incl. definitive guide on The Nuremberg Rallies - Smartphone Page >> Best 2nd World War Book Scans Added >> British War Dvds

Advertise >> 2nd World War Dvds & Books available @ amazon.com

Top of Page >> Search Site

Releases & Links

Josef Mengele At A Glance here. On The Run here. The Running Years - Me Thinking Outloud here

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