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Josef Mengele

(March 15, 1911 - February 7, 1979?)

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

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)


  • 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 ramp
  • Responsible for selections in the women's camp
  • called "Angele of Death"
  • March 11, 1944 his son, Rolf, was born
  • Sometime middle of January 1945, he fled Auschwitz

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
  • 1956 had his name officially changed to Josef Mengele
  • 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.

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