What type of experiments did Dr. Josef Mengele perform at Auschwitz?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dr. Josef Mengele is one of the most infamous figures in world history because of the experiments he performed on Holocaust victims at Auschwitz.

The most famous experiments he conducted were experiments having to do with the question of whether heredity or environment has the most impact on people.  At Auschwitz, he used twins in experiments to try to figure this out.  He also conducted experiments in which he tried to change the color of people's eyes.  Finally, he conducted a number of experiments having to do with Noma -- a disease sort of like gangrene.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a movie about Dr. Joseph Mengele entitled "The Boys from Brazil."  This film has as it main subject the return of Dr. Mengele to certain homes where a supposed clones of Adolph Hitler have grown to an adolescents.

While this movie is for the most part fictional, a recent news story reports (11-20-09) the discovery that an area in Brazil has an inordinate number of twins with blonde hair and blue eyes, and people are wondering what has caused this strange birth rise of such twins.  Rumors have spread that these twins are the results of the workings of this nefarious doctor.

mkcapen1 | Student

Dr. Josef Mengele, a physician at Auschwitz concentration camp, was known as the Angel of Death.  He tortured men, women and children.  He performed surgeries and medical procedures on prisoners in the camp without anesthesia.  He had a particular interest in twins and genetic traits.  He transferred blood from one person to another, put chemicals into children's eyes to see if he could change their eye colors. He even castrated some of the children and transferred organs from one child to another. 

In the death camps, he often pretended to be a friend to the children bringing them candy, clothing, and treats.  However, they soon learned that trust in his gifts was short lived as they became his victims.

He was an elegant well-respected physician, father, and husband.  Yet, he kept the gas chambers in supply of bodies.  He also had a fascination with dwarfs.  On occasion he had twins sewn together to create Siamese twins.  Most children were killed after the experiments failed or he was done with them.

Mengele's own study being primarily in genetics was partially due to his hope in determining how the incidence of twins could be genetically increased so that he could help to create more Aryan children for the government.  He also linked his genetic studies to racism developing circumstantial diagnosis on the shape, nose bridge, and other features to provide his comrades evidence that Jews and gypsies were inferior and a sub race.

He never did prove any of his theories and none of his work has ever been defined as noteworthy with the exception as being horrific and cruel.