The Search for Dr. Josef Mengele

Dr. Josef Mengele
Dr. Josef Mengele

At the end of WWII, one of the most notorious fugitives from justice was the chief medical officer at the Auschwitz death camp, Dr. Josef Mengele. He was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of the camp’s inmates. Many of them, including young children, had died as a direct result of his barbarous experiments.

Rumors abounded as to his eventual fate, but the facts appeared to be that he had evaded capture in Germany for four years before fleeing to Argentina. In the mid 1980s, when international efforts were being made to track him down in his South American hideout, reports were received that Mengele was buried in a Brazilian village in a grave bearing the name Wolfgang Gerhard. The occupant of the grave, whatever his real identity, was listed as having drowned in 1979 at the age of sixty-seven.

The grave was opened and the body removed in June 1985, and all the techniques available were used to try to provide a positive identification. The problem was that the only known personal information about Mengele was contained in his S.S. personnel file. This didn't provide much detail, giving only basic information such as Mengele’s head circumference and overall height. When forensic anthropologists examined the bones from the grave they found that the occupant was Caucasian, judging by the shape of the eye sockets and nose. The pelvic bones suggested the body had been male, and the characteristics of the arm bones indicated he had been right-handed. Judging by the wear of the teeth, the man had been between sixty and seventy years when he had died.

At that time, the only further techniques that could be made to establish the body’s identity involved comparing X-rays of the teeth with Mengele’s dental chart from 1938, and attempting to match the skull with an old photograph of Mengele. The results indicated the corpse was almost certainly that of the missing criminal, but without positive proof, some doubt remained.

It was only in 1992, when DNA samples from the corpse were compared with samples provided by Mengele’s living relatives in Germany, that a positive identity was received. The corpse was indeed Mengele’s and though he had managed to escape from justice for the remainder of his life, the search was over at last.

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Comments 12 comments

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 7 years ago from United States

Interestiing article. It's amazing how many of the Nazi's seemed to try and hide Argentina and some other South American countries. It's good to know that one monster met a fitting demise.

Choke Frantic profile image

Choke Frantic 7 years ago from Newcastle, Australia Author

Thanks for commenting, Pamela. I don't actually know much about the Nazis or post World War II, because we always studied Australian history in school, but I find this very interesting. When I heard that Mengele had drowned I almost laughed. A horrible death for a horrible person.

MistHaven profile image

MistHaven 7 years ago from New Jersey

I've never heard of Dr. Josef Mengele, but I know about Auschwitz all too well. It's too bad they didn't find him before he died so he could get the sentence he deserved. Seems a lot of these Nazi leaders either died in hiding or by their own hands (like Hitler) like the cowards they really were. Great Hub.

creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

That was a very good historical hub on Josef mengele, thanks for sharing. creativeone59

Choke Frantic profile image

Choke Frantic 7 years ago from Newcastle, Australia Author

MistHaven - When I first heard about Dr. Mengele I felt exactly the same way. However, I do think drowning is a horrible way to die to its possible that maybe he got a slice of justice.

Creativeone59 - Thanks so much for your comment!

Waren E profile image

Waren E 7 years ago from HAS LEFT THE BUILDING............

He had it coming...LOL,I don't mean to be insensitive but

he was a real Bastard I'd say,all those poor children!

Great Hub CF!

Choke Frantic profile image

Choke Frantic 7 years ago from Newcastle, Australia Author

Thanks, Waren E.

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lyricsingray 7 years ago

Fascinating and I certainly learned a great deal - Great Job Girl! Thank you, Kimberly

Choke Frantic profile image

Choke Frantic 7 years ago from Newcastle, Australia Author

Thankyou for your comment, lyricsingray.

Smarty 7 years ago

Why does everyone think he was such a horrable pearson?! well i know why, but i dont understand is noone sees the amazing acploshments he made, the disvers from those deaths (horrble as they may be) saved those of thosands more, i love his work, even tough i persoanlly would be consedderd by nazi terms as a gypsy, and those horrible things could have been done to me, in the big picture, hes an amazing pearson.

jwood00 profile image

jwood00 6 years ago from the other side of morning

Good article.

To the person above, you are either a troll or mentally ill. The argument for numbers is one of the most philosophically absurd ones.

Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

To smarty, no one person deserves to die in fear and absolute terror so that many more can live. It is absurd and cruel and advances in medicine are made every day without cruelty. Very interesting hub Choke Frantic. Great read!

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