The Angel of Death: 9 Facts About the Life of Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele

The Angel of Death: 9 Facts About the Life of Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele

Larry Holzwarth - October 12, 2017

The Angel of Death: 9 Facts About the Life of Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele as he appeared at the time of Auschwitz (left) and two sets of Brazilian twins from a town where he worked as a country doctor in Brazil. DailyStar (UK)

A Brazilian boom of twins in Mengele’s wake

The Boys From Brazil is a 1978 film which describes a fictional Nazi conspiracy in South America. The film presents unusual male children who bare physical resemblances to a youthful Adolf Hitler, and although there are several different Boys the similarities between them and Hitler – and each other – are unnerving. In the film, a total of 94 boys, all of whom are clones of Adolf Hitler, are produced.

The children are then sent to various locations around the world to be raised in a manner similar to Hitler’s childhood, in the hope that one will grow into a living replica. The project is masterminded by a fictionalized Josef Mengele operating out of Paraguay.

Beginning in 1963 and continuing into the 21st century a small town in Brazil experienced birth rates of twins of about one in five pregnancies, vastly exceeding the normal rate. The overwhelming majority of these births have been blue-eyed, with blond hair. An unusually large number have been boys. The town is Candido Godoi, which welcomed the disguised Mengele in the 1960s. Residents of the town have discussed the circumstances of Mengele’s visits. Many recalled that Mengele openly discussed artificial insemination of women to increase the odds of successful pregnancy.

In 1969 Mengele, still living under various identities and assumed names, purchased half interest in a farm in Brazil near Sao Paulo. In the early 1970s, he acquired the identity and papers of Wolfgang Gerhard and took up residence in a small house in the Eldorado section of Sao Paulo.

His son Rolf visited him there in 1977 and later reported his father to have no regrets over his career and his activities, other than the loss of much of his work. Mengele still feared pursuit by both the West Germans and the Israelis, although subsequent to his death it became known that the Israelis suspended attempts to capture the fugitive in 1962.

The Angel of Death: 9 Facts About the Life of Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele as he appeared around the time of his death in South America. He escaped justice for 34 years. Quora

Even his death escaped detection – for a while

By the mid-70s Mengele’s health was in decline and he suffered from high blood pressure, leading to at least one stroke while in residence in Eldorado. In 1977 he visited friends in the Brazilian resort town of Bertioga.

While swimming in February 1979, Mengele suffered a stroke which caused immediate paralysis, leading to his death by drowning. Still using the identity of Wolfgang Gerhard, he was buried under that name.

Privately funded efforts such as those conducted by Simon Wiesenthal continued to search for the fugitive and supposed “sightings” of the living Mengele were reported all over the world. A reward of $100,000 for Mengele’s capture was offered in 1982, and the Israeli’s staged a mock trial of the Nazi doctor in 1985, which made his crimes again international news. In 1985, after research by the United States, Israeli, and West German experts and the help of uncounted private investigators, Mengele’s burial place, and false identity were revealed. Not until 1992 would DNA testing confirm the identity of Auschwitz’s Angel of Death.

Josef Mengele eluded pursuit for 34 years. To read of his unspeakable crimes, for which he never showed regret or remorse, is to realize the depths of depravity to which one man can sink. As one of history’s ironies, Mengele’s skeletal remains are in the possession of the medical school of the University of Sao Paulo, where they are used for medical training. They are deemed particularly useful in matching skeletal remains to the existing medical record for a given individual in forensic science courses.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Holocaust Survivor 91, Meets Nephew of Doctor Who Saved His Life 4 Times at Auschwitz – Pix11

Auschwitz: How Death Camp Became Centre of Nazi Holocaust – BBC Channel

German Doctors and The Final Solution – The New York Time Magazine

Mengele letters reveal life ended in pain and poverty – The Guardian

What Made This Man? Mengele – The New York Time Magazine

The Mengele Twins and Human Experimentation – CHCUK dot CO

A History of Mengele’s Gruesome Experiments on Twins – ThoughtCo

Dr. Mengele’s Twins – The Daily Beast

Evil Doctors and Scientists From World War II – History Collection

Did the Nazis’ ‘Angel of Death’ Leave a Lasting Legacy in Brazil? – History Net

Nazi Angel of Death Josef Mengele ‘Created Twin Town In Brazil’ – The Telegraph

Why Did Israel Let Mengele Go? – NY Times