Dr. Josef Mengele (16 March 1911 – 7 February 1979), was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He gained notoriety chiefly for being one of the SS physicians who performed human experiments of dubious scientific value on camp inmates, amongst whom Mengele was known as the Angel of Death.
Mengele used Auschwitz as an opportunity to continue his research on heredity, using inmates for human experimentation. He was particularly interested in twins, who were selected and placed in special barracks. He also studied a disease called Noma, which particularly affected children from the Gypsy camp. While the cause of Noma remains relatively unknown, it is a disease that affects chiefly children suffering from malnutrition and a weak immune system, and many develop the disease shortly after having suffered another illness like measles or tuberculosis. Mengele tried to prove that Noma was caused by racial inferiority. Mengele took an interest in physical abnormalities discovered among the arrivals at the concentration camp. This included dwarves, notably the Ovitz family, a Jewish Romanian artist’s family, seven of whose ten members were dwarves. Prior to their deportation they toured in Eastern Europe as the Lilliput Troupe. He often called them “my dwarf family”, to him they seemed to be the perfect expression of ‘the abnorm’. Mengele’s experiments were of dubious scientific value, including attempts to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes, various amputations of limbs and other brutal surgeries. Rena Gelissen’s account of her time in Auschwitz details certain experiments performed on female prisoners around October 1943. During roll calls Mengele would show up to perform a “special work detail” selection, which fooled some into thinking that this would be a relief from the otherwise hard labour they were performing. In actuality Mengele would experiment on the chosen girls, performing sterilization and shock treatments. Most of the victims died, either due to the experiments or later infections.
List of Nazi Human Experimentation
- Freezing experiments
- Malaria experiments
- LOST (mustard) gas experiments
- Sulfonamide experiments
- Sea water experiments
- Epidemic jaundice experiments
- Sterilization experiments
- Typhus (Fleckfieber) experiments
- Experiments with poison
- Incendiary bomb experiments
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