Josef Mengele: Doctor or Sadist?

Topics: World War 2

World War II was a war that encompassed the world. Adolf Hitler desired a superior race and wished to cleanse the world of the impure races. Jewish and gypsies or Romanian, people were at the forefront of the “unclean”. In order to purify the Aryan bloodline, he constructed concentration and work camps throughout European countries that were under Nazi control. He gathered people that he deemed impure and relocated them to these camps. Some of these camps were labor camps, however, conditions were harsh, and many people perished from the unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, and diseases.

Some doctors performed experiments in order to further purify and create the Aryan race or benefit the Nazi’s war effort.

Dr. Josef Mengele used his status as a doctor and the circumstances of concentration camps to fulfill the Nazi’s desire for a superior race to inflict unnecessary pain on victims which can be seen by examining the role of doctors, the purpose of the experiments, and the unethical treatment of victims.

Physicians’ responsibility was to provide care for the SS guards, the prisoners and staff. He also acted as a coroner if an accidental or unknown death had occurred. In addition, the camp physicians were responsible for choosing who was able to work, and who was sentenced to death. However, most people did not even survive long enough to work. Millions of people were murdered in the concentration camp showers, which was a ruse to reduce resistance.

The showers were gas chambers. The young, the sick, and the elderly were sent directly to the chambers.

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They used doctors to make these decisions to strengthen the belief that certain people were unclean. This was a type of propaganda used which the Nazis needed to reinforce their ideas of a superior race. It was believed that the majority of races had some underlying issue in either physical features or blood tests, except for the Nazis, which was even further enforced by blood tests. The Nazi party had medical and scientific evidence that they were superior and their actions were justified.

Prior to being placed at Auschwitz, Dr. Josef Mengle had worked on anthropology studies on seventeen families with cleft palates. After studying 1,200 family members of those seventeen families, he was able to determine that it was a genetic mutation. Due to his studies of genetic mutations, he was hired at the Frankfurt Institute. He was working on genetic information, which was important to the Nazi party in order to create the Aryan race. About his appointment at Auschwitz, it is not exactly sure if he applied or was appointed to the position but considering his enthusiasm and dedication, it can be assumed that he asked for the position. Auschwitz was a punishment camp; however, it was almost exclusively an extermination camp. Over a million Jews had been killed even before the gas chambers provided the ability for the mass murders. The experiments were conducted in many camps to uphold the values of the Administration, which gave the experiments practical necessity. In order to create a superior race, they tried to purify humanity through genocide. Josef Mengele tried to do this through experiments and research.

The experiments conducted were typically aimed toward three goals: military survival, drugs and treatment, and the advancement of the Nazis. Military experiments were designed to promote the survival of the Axis military forces. The medical experiments for drugs and treatments, tested immunizations compounds and antibodies of malaria, typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever. They also tested mustard gas and possible antidotes. They tried to test bone regeneration, muscle, and nerve regeneration. Nothing was learned from this. The victims suffered multination, serve pain, and permanent disfigurement.[footnoteRef:5] While these experiments were justified and deemed medically necessary for the Nazi military, the experiments that Josef Mengele conducted on twins were not. He was fascinated with twins, in his attempt to discover the secret of multiple births to create the Aryan race faster.

There were studies taking place before the war but were held to a standard, including permission from parents as well as German laws. In the camps, Mengele was not held to these standards and had unlimited access to people. His twin experiments were done on his own time and not part of his official duties. He was conducting the studies as a part of his post-doctoral thesis or would at least present the findings in this thesis. In one experiment, he took a set of twin-eighteen-year-old Hungarian males and were described as athletic and handsome.[footnoteRef:6] Their bodies were measured intensively. They were x-rayed. Tubes were inserted into the nose and into the lungs. Gas was pumped into their lungs, causing them to cough so severely that had to be restrained.  They were forced to sit in tubs of water so hot that they almost passed out, at which point they would be removed, and their hair would be pulled, and then the process was repeated.

They were given two-liter enemas, which caused excruciating pain after their intestines became distended. Then they were bent over tables and strapped down. They had an extensive lower gastric exam which caused so much pain. Instead of anesthesia, Dr. Mengele ordered to the gagged. During another test, the twins endured a urological exam consisting of tissue samples of the kidneys, prostate and testicles, in addition to forced semen samples, again with no anesthesia. These tests were horrendous yet deemed necessary were continued for three weeks. They were taken to the autopsy room, still alive. There they were injected with chloroform to the heart simultaneously, and ultimately killing them. There was no reasoning behind the tests. They were basically put through the tests in order to kill them at the same time, to see if each twin had the same effects on the body. Autopsies were done while the bodies were still warm.

Twins often endured experiments that would leave one sick. One twin would be injected with an illness or poison that would likely kill the one. When the ill twin died, the other would be killed in order to dissect the bodies to compare the effects of the illness. He even attempted to create Siamese twins by sewing two separate twins together. He tried to make girls into boys and vise versa by putting blood from one into the other. He even connected the urinary tract of a seven-year-old girl to her colon. None of these experiments had scientific merit. They were merely sadistic torture that he used science to hide behind.

Josef Mengele wanted to discover the secret of multiple births, he wanted to do his due diligence and provide scientific evidence that the Aryan race could be established. These experiments were painful and excruciating to victims. Josef Mengele focused on twins and did not provide any conclusions. His experiments were nothing but torture. He was given unlimited access with no restrictions. He was not a doctor, but a hid behind his white coat. At Auschwitz, he sent people many people to the gas chambers, some children he spared from certain death and instead gave them a false sense of hope. The Nazis tried to create a super race, a pure race by systematically murdering millions of people through the concentration camps. Adolf Hitler provided a way for people like Josef Mengele to thrive. But the world saw, and the world fought back. Fortunately, Hitler and the Nazis were defeated in World War II and the millions of people who lost their lives will never be forgotten.


  1. Kor, Eva Mozes., and Lisa Rojany-Buccieri. Surviving the Angel of Death: the True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz. Terre Haute, IN: Tanglewood, 2012.
  2. Marwell, David George. Mengele : Unmasking the ‘Angel of Death’. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2020.
  3. “Medical Experiments of the Holocaust and Nazi Medicine.” The Holocaust History – A People’s and Survivor History – Accessed April 13, 2020.
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Josef Mengele: Doctor or Sadist?. (2021, Dec 14). Retrieved from

Josef Mengele: Doctor or Sadist?
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