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Scientists of Holocaust: Past of Pharmacology, Twins & Josef Mengele

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The concentration camps are a constant reminder of World War II and the Holocaust. Concentration camps varied in tasks and cruelties inflicted upon the prisoners held there. Auschwitz is the main example of a concentration camp; it was partly owned by the company known as IG Farben. Nazi scientists inflicted pain and death upon Jews in these camps often in the name of furthering science. Many medical experiments were conducted in many other concentration camps, as well. The experiments that happened in these concentration camps are a blight on mankind’s history and the effects will forever remain as a part of our society. “Unethical human experiments are a major threat to vulnerable populations everywhere“. The pharmaceutical companies and Nazi scientists took advantage of the Nazi prisoners to use them as experimental guinea pigs to further their research on new drugs.

IG Farben was a pharmaceutical company that owned their own concentration camp. They were the only company to own a concentration camp during the Holocaust; however, they had scientists and workers stationed in many more concentration camps. The company would order shipments of prisoners for experimental purposes, such as testing new medicines. “The IG Farben culture continues to drive the chemical-pharmaceutical industry. “Profit urber alles” – that means ANYTHING goes – profit above all else.” The people in concentration camps were lucky if they landed in a labor camp, if not, they became lab rats for the Nazis and companies associated with them. IG Farben built a plant at Auschwitz as they could amass a workforce of 300,000 strong for little to no cost. The Zyklon B gas which was used within the gas chambers of death camps was developed by IG Farben’s subsidiary company Degesch. After the war, IG Farben fell apart into three separate companies Bayer, BASF, and Hoechst which kept all of IG Farben’s holdings and property. Not one company has paid the wages of any former slaves within IG Farben’s concentration camps. There is a group known as the Coalition against Bayer-dangers, which has followed the activities of Bayer for over twenty-five years. One of the main properties of IG Farben was their headquarters located in Uerdingen, Germany, and occupies the grounds on which a Jewish cemetery could once be found. Nazis dissolved the community in 1942 and today all traces of the cemetery have been erased, except for the city records which place the cemetery at the location of what is now the main gate to a Bayer factory. The bodies were never exhumed before construction began and as such, it is seen as harshly as if the graves were defiled. “The COALITION AGAINST BAYER-DANGERS demands that the company publicly apologize for the defilement of the Uerdingen cemetery and affix a memorial plaque to the main gate of the company´s Uerdingen works.”

Josef Mengele was a SS physician that focused on children’s experimentation. He was born in 1911 in Gunzburg, near Ulm. In 1935 he earned his Ph. D. in physical anthropology at the University of Munich. He later became the assistant of Dr. Otmar von Verschuer, a scientist known for his work on twins, during this time he also became part of the Nazi Party. Three years later when he received his medical degree, he joined the SS. He was drafted into service and saw the conflict as a medical officer, he was wounded during his time in the army, and was sent back to Germany in 1943. “-served as a medical officer with the SS Division “Wiking” (SS Pioneer Battalion V), with which he saw action on the Eastern Front.” He made his way through the ranks of the SS until he made it to the rank of Captain. Not long after his application to be transferred to a concentration camp was accepted, he was sent to Auschwitz. He began working at Auschwitz as the supervisor over entry into the camp; it was up to him to decide who was put into forced labor and who was sent to be gassed to death with Zyklon-B. During this time he earned his famous title of “Angel of Death” because of the unfathomable torture inflicted upon the people in these camps.

He was found to be rather cheerful during this time, showing up for work when not required and whistling music during the process. Most of the other officers who took part in this process had to get drunk just to make it through the day. A month after he arrived at Auschwitz , there was a disease outbreak in the Gypsy camp. Mengele sent over a thousand Gypsies to their deaths in the gas chambers because he was uninterested in treating the disease. He had a similar incident to the one involving the Gypsies in a woman camp and sent six hundred women to their deaths.

Throughout his time at Auschwitz, Mengele continued his work on twins’ experimentation; not long later a fire pit was built. The fire pit was surrounded by Mengele and other Nazi officers. Dump trucks full of children arrived and were soon tossed into the fire. Mengele and other officers grabbed sticks and shoved the burning children back into the fire as they screamed and attempted to escape. After this incident, he began requesting that twins be given extra rations to keep them in healthy condition. Almost every day twins were chosen for experimentation by Mengele personally.

The experimentation inflicted upon the children under Mengele’s care was horrible, even affecting children as young as five years of age. “Mengele had become interested in utilizing twins for medical research through Verschuer, famous for experimenting with identical and fraternal twins in order to trace the genetic origins of various diseases.” He would drain blood from each of them to the point where they would faint. He conducted large-scale blood transfusions in an attempt to change eye color. One of the most famous examples of his cruelty was when he collected seven sets of twins with different colored eyes in the middle of the night, he swiftly killed and dissected them only to extract their eyes. The eyes were sent to his former mentor von Verschuer for study.

Many experiments were known as pseudoscience. One example is when he attempted to conjoin twins by sewing them back together and connecting their organs and blood vessels; they later died of gangrene days later. He would remove limbs and body parts or force incestuous impregnations upon twins. Out of the 1500 twins experimented on, less than two hundred survived Mengele’s twisted pseudoscience.

Unfortunately, after years of hiding after escaping the raid of Auschwitz, Mengele died in a drowning accident in South America in 1979. He never faced trial or punishment for his crimes and horrors inflicted upon hundreds of thousands. 

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Scientists of Holocaust: Past of Pharmacology, Twins & Josef Mengele. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 26, 2022, from
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