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Josef Mengele

German Physician, Josef Mengele, joined the Nazi party in 1937. The following year he received his medical degree and joined the Schutzstaffel (SS). He was later drafted into the army and in 1943 he was assigned to the Auschwitz II concentration camp as Chief Camp Physician.

During his infamous tenure at the concentration camp, he conducted various inhumane experimental treatments and killed many Jewish prisoners. Medical staff performed “selections” of prisoners on the ramp, determining from among the mass of humanity arriving at Auschwitz who would be retained for work and who would perish immediately in the gas chambers. He has been called the “Angel of Death” or sometimes “White Angel” for his coldly cruel demeanor on the ramp.

During the Nazi rule parents were told that their handicapped children were being taken to homes for special treatments, only to be murdered with a gradual overdose of Luminal. Since Luminal is a sedative that was often administered by people like Mengele in small doses to unruly children at the time — there was no other way to treat epilepsy, for instance — nurses often had no way of knowing who was administering the fatal dose. Nor could they tell whether a child was sleeping or entering into a comatose state. The more people who were in on the killing, the less culpability any one individual felt.

Immediately following the conclusion of World War II, Mengele was held in U.S. custody. U.S. officials quickly released him although they were unaware that Mengele’s name already stood on a list of wanted war criminals. His prosperous family aided his emigration to Argentina but after hearing a fellow Nazi was captured nearby, he fled to Brazil. In 1979 he died of a stroke while swimming in Bertioga, Brazil.

Throughout our lives, we try to maintain a clear conscience and make correct choices. Mengele was afraid that he would be tried and punished for his actions. This shows that there are times that we realize that our actions were unjust. Making ourselves better can be an overwhelming task for some, but we all must overcome that fear to make our lives better.

Below is a photo of an order of Luminal.

Order of Luminal

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