Josef Mengele joined the ‘Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene,’ Frankfurt on January 1937 as an assistant to Dr. Otmar von Verschuer who was famous for his research on twins.
In 1937, he joined the ‘Nazi Party.’ In 1938, he got his medical degree and joined the ‘SS’ the same year.
He was drafted into the army in 1940 and volunteered to join the medical service of the ‘Waffen-SS.’ During the summer of 1940, he became the medical expert of ‘RuSHA’ or ‘Rasse und Siedlungshauptamt’ at their ‘Central Immigration Office,’ situated in North East Posen.
Later, he served on the Eastern Front while serving as a medical officer with the ‘Wiking Division’ of the ‘SS Pioneer Battalion V.’
He was wounded in a battle and returned to Germany on January 1943 to join the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Genetics and Eugenics.’
He was promoted to the rank of SS-Captain on April 1943.
He was transferred to Auschwitz on May 30, 1943 under garrison physician SS-Captain Dr. Eduard Wirths.
As a medical officer, he was given the responsibility of looking after the ‘Gypsy camp’ at Birkenau in the spring of 1943.
Several weeks after the liquidation of this camp, Mengele was appointed as the chief camp physician of Auschwitz II or Birkenau on November 1943.
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He was responsible for choosing the individuals who were taken to the gas chambers for extermination. He also chose the individuals who were allowed to live as laborers.
He had already been conducting experiments on twins since the 1930s. At Auschwitz, he got the license to perform all sorts of horrible and agonizing experiments on the Jewish and Gypsy twins.
He also conducted experiments on heterochromia. He injected chemicals into the eyes of many children in order to change the color of the irises artificially.
He also conducted experiments on ‘Noma’ which is a type of gangrene that destroys the tissues and mucous membrane of the mouth.
He often forced the trained medical personnel available among the prisoners to do his dirty work. One example is Dr. Miklos Nyiszli who assisted Mengele under duress in his experiments. This person recounted his experiences at the camp in the book ‘Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account’ which was published in Hungarian language in 1946.
Mengele had hoped to write a second post-doctoral thesis so that he could become a professor at some German university, but ultimately failed to do so.
He fled from Auschwitz on January 17, 1945 shortly before the ‘Soviet Army’ troops arrived at the camp.
He spent a few weeks at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp and then made his way westwards when this camp too was evacuated.
He was captured by the American troops. However, he was released by them as they did not know his identity as a war criminal.
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He worked as a farmhand in Rosenheim, Bavaria from the summer of 1945 to the spring of 1949.
He migrated to South America with the help of his prosperous family and settled near Buenos Aires in Argentina.
The West German government issued an arrest warrant against him in 1959 and requested the government of Argentina to extradite him in 1960.
He moved to Paraguay in 1959 and then to Brazil in 1960 after hearing the news that Adolf Eichmann had been arrested by the Israeli intelligence ‘Mossad.’
He lived near Sao Paolo for the rest of his life. He drowned when he suffered a stroke while swimming at a resort in Bertioga, Brazil in 1979.
His mortal remains were buried in a Sao Paolo suburb. His burial name was changed from Josef Mengele to Wolfgang Gerhard.
The German police tracked his grave in 1985, exhumed the body, and conducted a forensic test to determine the identity of the body.
A DNA test in 1992 confirmed that the exhumed corpse was indeed his.