Josef Mengele

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Josef Rudolf Mengele (German pronunciation: [ˈjoːzəf ˈʁuːdɔlf ˈmɛŋɡələ],[1] 16 March 1911 – 7 February 1979), also known as the Angel of Death (Todesengel in German) was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He earned doctorates in anthropology from Munich University and in medicine from Frankfurt University. He initially gained notoriety for being one of the SS physicians who supervised the selection of arriving transports of prisoners, determining who was to be killed and who was to become a forced labourer, but is far more infamous for performing grisly human experiments on camp inmates, for which Mengele was called the "Angel of Death".

In 1940, he was placed in the reserve medical corps, following which he served with the 5th SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking in the Eastern Front. In 1942, he was wounded at the Russian front and was pronounced medically unfit for combat, and was then promoted to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) for saving the lives of three German soldiers. He survived the war, and after a period living incognito in Germany he fled to South America, where he evaded capture for the rest of his life despite being hunted as a Nazi war criminal.


Early life

Josef Mengele was born the eldest of three children[2] to Karl and Walburga Mengele in Günzburg, Bavaria, Germany. Mengele's father was a founder of the Karl Mengele & Sons company, a company that produced farm machinery for milling, sawing, and baling.[3] In 1935, Mengele earned a Ph.D in Anthropology from the University of Munich. In January 1937, at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt, he became the assistant to Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer who was a leading scientist mostly known for his research in genetics with a particular interest with twins. From this association, Mengele probably developed his life-long fascination with the study of twins. In addition Mengele studied under Theodor Mollison and Eugen Fischer, who had been involved in medical experiments on the Herero tribe in (what is now) Namibia.[4]

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