photography by swartz



20. Mengele


In 1943, the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele became the chief physician of Birkenau. Children were subjected to brutal and inhumane pseudomedical experimentation. He expanded his experimentation to include twins, dwarfs, and others with physical abnormalities. Most of his "tests" were performed on victims who were still alive; almost all of these experiments were painful and traumatic. He was fascinated with the Nordic race and wanted to breed a master race of blue-eyed, blond-haired people.

Shown here is Mengele in 1944 during the selection process who shall live and who shall die on the "arrival ramp" in Birkenau.

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The way we selected our victims was as follows: we had two SS doctors on duty at Auschwitz to examine the incoming transports of prisoners. These would be marched by one of the doctors, who would make spot decisions as they walked by. Those who were fit to work were sent into the camp. Others were sent immediately to the extermination plants. Children of tender years were invariably exterminated since by reason of their youth they were unable to work.

Rudolf Hss, Commandant of Auschwitz

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Last modified: 07/15/03