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David G. Marwell – Mengele,

Unmasking the “Angel of Death”


President of the Leo Baeck Institute New York|Berlin

Chief of investigative research, Justice Department, Office of Special Investigations, 1980’s

Former director, Museum of Jewish History, New York City

Berlin Document Center, 1988 – 1994 

Member, Interagency Working Group for Nazi War Criminal Documents.

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Episode #1

Q: Mengele, Unmasking the ”Angel of Death”


  • Influenced by Wiesenthal’s, Murderers Among Us

  • Chief investigative research Justice Department

  • Former director, Museum of Jewish History, NYC

  • Klaus Barbie case

  • US Government complicity?

  • Manhunt for Mengele

  • Israel & Germany part of effort

Episode #2

Q: What early influences shaped Mengele?


  • Unremarkable childhood

  • Wealthy, established family

  • Gunzburg Bavaria

  • University 1930

  • Medicine & Anthropology

Episode #3

Q: How did Mengele’s studies mold his view of racial hygiene?


  • University: exposed to racial theories

  • Received two doctorates – Medicine & Anthropology

  • Studies under elite teachers

  • Rudolf Hess: Nazism = applied biology

  • Racial Hygiene, enshrined by Nazi government

Episode #4

Q: What was Mengele’s trajectory in the S.S.?


  • Initially a Wehrmacht physician

  • Joined SS

  • Served in Posen

  • Attached to 5th SS Viking

  • Stationed in Ukraine – Operation Barbarossa

Episode #5

Q: What records exist regarding Mengele’s “experiments” Auschwitz?


  • Few actual records of Mengele’s experiments

  • Problematic area to fully reconstruct

  • Reliability of prisoner testimony

  • Colleague physicians provide good source              

Episode #6

Q: What “experiments” did Mengele conduct at Auschwitz?


  • Pre-Auschwitz Mengele spent time at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute

  • Number of areas of interest

  • Noma oral cancer

  • Eye Color and race

  • Protein research

  • Physical Anomalies -Dwarves, Giants

  • Gypsies, Twins

Episode #7

Q: How did Mengele escape after the war?


  • Left Auschwitz January 1945

  • Berlin to Breslau to Gross-Rosen Concentration Camp

  • Worked in Field Hospital

  • Did not have SS Tattoo

  • Released from prisoner of war camp

  • Farm laborer for three years

  • Austria to Italy to South America

Episode #8

Q: Was Mengele part of a post war Nazi organization?


  • Hard to say

  • Part of German community

  • Met Adolf Eichmann in South America

  • Aided by right wing Germans

  • Helped him relocate from Brazil to Paraguay

Episode #9

Q: How did Mengele elude capture in South America?


  • Initially no one looking for him

  • Received German passport in Argentina

  • Married & lived under own name

  • Heard German police came to hometown

  • Moved to Paraguay & falsely secured citizenship

  • After Eichmann capture went to Brazil, false name

Episode #10

Q: Did the Mossad come close to Capturing Mengele?


  • Eichmann was prime target

  • Mengele, secondary one

  • Initially well-funded

  • Came close a few times

  • Some wild goose chases

Episode #11

Q: How was Mengele’s Death discovered & confirmed?


  • Reports of drowning

  • Body exhumed

  • No soft tissue, problem with water

  • Medical records from Mengele notes

  • X-rays & dental records

  • 1986 Conclusions, not conclusive

  • 1992 Science caught up

  • DNA typing as forensic tool

Episode #12

Q: What are Mengele’s autobiographical notes?


  • Notes found in South America

  • Written as novel

  • 100 pages on his birth

  • Almost no mention of Auschwitz

  • Details on farm & escape

  • University studies

  • Connection to science & teachers

Episode #13

Q: How do you teach Mengele & Evil?


  • Separate Mengele from persona

  • Took on symbolic status

  • Attempt o deconstruct the man

  • Real from the imagined

  • Unsettling truths

  • Watch out, tame, science & medicine

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Full Interview - David G. Marwell

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