The Life Story of Josef Mengele

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The book Mengele: The Complete Story, authored by Gerald L. Posner and John Ware, recounts the fascinating life of Josef Mengele, filled with unforeseen occurrences and astonishing revelations. This captivating narrative is reminiscent of a thrilling saga. Posner and Ware drew upon Mengele’s diaries, letters, and interviews with those who had a personal association with him to craft their account.

The text offers a glimpse into the life and era of Josef, famously known as The Angel of Death. His life can be categorized into three distinct periods. During his pre-war years and throughout World War II, he experienced power and liberty, which he exploited to conduct sadistic medical experiments on unwilling individuals in Nazi death camps. After the war concluded, he led a fugitive existence, perpetually pursued and haunted by nations across the globe seeking retribution for the horrors he inflicted upon Jews, Poles, Gypsies, and other victims during the war.

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In Brazil, Josef Mengele met his demise through drowning and endured a degrading post-mortem fate. This report delves into Mengele’s identity and the changes he experienced over time. The author’s main message in the book is that Mengele was not solely characterized by his infamous reputation.

He gained the nickname The Angel of Death due to his calm and composed demeanor while carrying out brutal acts such as live dissections of innocent people. Additionally, he had a disturbing obsession with twins, as he believed they held the key to achieving a superior race.

According to Vera Alexander, a witness of the atrocities conducted by Mengele, she describes a typical experiment that he would conduct on twins. On a specific day, two children known as Tito and Nino were taken away by SS men. One of them had a hunchback. After a duration of two to three days, an SS man returned them in a dreadful condition.

They had been cut and sewn together – the hunchback to the other child, back to back, with their wrists also tied together. The presence of gangrene caused a terrible smell. The cuts were unclean, causing the children to cry every night.

(P. 37 par. 4) Mengele’s reputation was earned through performing various cruel acts, such as forcefully expelling a fetus from a woman’s womb by jumping on her stomach, carrying out unnecessary amputations, and sterilizing thousands. Despite projecting strength and fierceness towards his victims, Mengele was actually lacking in both physical and emotional strength.

He had a deep insecurity about his physical appearance, always suspecting that others were plotting against him. To boost his own confidence, he would demean the achievements of others. Mengele had a particular aversion towards gypsies, whom he considered to be inferior compared to other groups he targeted. His arrest warrant, documenting his atrocious acts, clearly demonstrates his complete disregard for their lives:

. Mengele, on May 25th, 1943, sent 1035 gypsies who were suspected of having typhus to the gas chamber. Additionally, on May 25th and 26th, he spared the German Gypsies while he sent around 600 others to be gassed (p. 25 par.).

What is ironic about this hatred is that Mengele himself was not considered physically superior to anyone. He had always been self-conscious about his slightly tawny skin, penetrating brown-green eyes, and dark hair, enduring taunts about his Gypsy looks from his classmates since childhood. (p.

25 par. 2) The origins of his disdain for Gypsies could be attributed to the childhood traumas inflicted upon him by others, as well as the self-inflicted trauma caused by his unstable personality. Throughout his life, Mengele faced constant illness and attempted fervently to conceal this reality. He was a narcissistic individual who derived pleasure from admiring himself in the presence of a mirror.

In fact, Josef Mengele refused to have his blood type tattooed on his chest, a Nazi tradition, because he valued his smooth skin. This act of vanity likely contributed to his initial evasion from capture. When the death camps were liberated, the allies would check for the blood type tattoo as a means of identifying suspected Nazis. Therefore, Josef Mengele’s life on the run did not match the portrayal in the film “The Boys from Brazil.”

In the movie, Josef Mengele was depicted as living luxuriously in South America and holding power over the remaining Nazi party, with clones of Adolf Hitler prepared to dominate the world. However, this portrayal diverges significantly from the solitary life of isolation that he actually led. Through sheer luck, Mengele managed to escape detection multiple times, often experiencing nail-biting moments reminiscent of suspense scenes in Hollywood films. To avoid possible capture by authorities, he had to continuously move from one South American country to another.

Despite finally finding a home in Brazil, his life remained turbulent and he aged prematurely. He continued to be pursued incessantly by the Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, until the discovery of Mengele’s remains in 1985. Sadly, his last days were filled with despair as he resided in a deteriorating bungalow with a cracked floor and leaking roof.

Facing loneliness, failing health, and poverty after controlling the fate of numerous individuals, this man sought friendship from anyone. His desperation drove him to try to purchase the companionship of a sixteen-year-old neighborhood gardener named Luis. His yearning for companionship was so strong that he exhausted all his funds on buying a television set, hoping that it would entice the boy to visit his house and provide him with someone to converse with.

Mengele informed his friend Hans Sedlmeier about the television, with the intention of convincing his recent roommate to remain (p. 62, par. 6). Ultimately, Mengele’s fate was decided on a beach in Brazil.

The cause of death for Josef Mengele was drowning. It took 6 years for the world to find out about his death, even though he was buried in an unmarked grave owned by a friend. In their book, the authors took a mostly non-judgmental approach towards Mengele’s actions and life. They provided a biographical account that primarily focused on presenting factual information about his deeds without giving any criticism.

The authors did not need to condemn him as the stories they presented about the horrors he committed spoke for themselves. The only judgment expressed by the authors was in the last paragraph of the book. This came after the revelation that a skeleton believed to be Mengele’s had been confirmed as genuine through DNA testing. The authors stated: “For the sake of the civilized world’s peace of mind, these scientists had performed one worthwhile experiment on an unworthy life.”

The passage on page 325, paragraph 6, states that the authors oppose the publication of Mengele’s life story but stress the significance of uncovering the truth. In general, the book portrays Mengele as an unfeeling individual without any regret for his actions.

In reality, Mengele regretted not putting in more effort to eliminate a larger number of individuals. The depiction of Mengele accurately represents his genuine nature, resulting in an imbalance of negative traits being perceived. While there were a couple of occasions where he showed compassion towards his son and cleaning lady, overall Mengele was lacking positive qualities.

Despite leading a humble life towards the end, Mengele had not changed from the arrogant and bitter SS doctor he once was. Mengele embodied hatred, arrogance, and cruelty; it would have been impossible to maintain a balance between his positive and negative traits.

Despite managing to evade capture and avoid prosecution, Mengele did not escape punishment. Executing him would have ended his existence without further suffering. However, Mengele endured a life of loneliness, isolation, and separation from his family and loved ones – an anguish far more painful than an early release from torment. With his life wasted and all ambitions extinguished, Mengele’s very existence became his retribution.

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The Life Story of Josef Mengele. (2018, Apr 10). Retrieved from

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