Nazi Germany had crimes

Nazi crimes : Mengeles twins

"Now I'll tell you," says Eva Mozes Kor firmly, as she puts her tiny hand with pink-painted nails on the arm of her counterpart, "what our everyday life was like in Auschwitz."

Alarm time between five and six. Josef Mengele - polished leather boots, white gloves - stopped by for a moment: to count the children. Then there was “brown broth, called breakfast”, as Mozes Kor says, and then she and the other children trotted in silence, “like a herd”, into the Nazi laboratories.

Eva Mozes Kor is a small, very well-groomed lady of 82 years. She is sitting on her walker in the foyer of the Marriott Hotel on Potsdamer Platz. Mozes Kor wears a turquoise silk suit. Her blonde hair is slightly disheveled.

In the laboratories, she continues, the children had to undress. They stood naked for hours while Mengele's employees measured their fingers, arms and ears. On other days, Eva Mozes Kor remembers, the doctors drove her needles into her left arm. Sometimes so much blood was drawn from her that she passed out. She says she didn't dare look at her right arm. Infusions ran into it and she didn't know what the substances were. The doctors, who were almost always prisoners themselves, exchanged the bags - without explanation or words of comfort. "No compassion!", Says Eva Mozes Kor, no sympathy from the medical staff, she shakes her head vehemently as if the idea is absurd, "never, zero!"

Eva Mozes Kor speaks English with a strong Eastern European accent. She comes from Romania, emigrated to Israel with her twin sister after the war, where she met her husband, whom she followed to the USA in the small town of Terre Haute, Indiana.

There were no ethical limits for the test subjects from the cattle cars

Her life after Auschwitz is divided into two halves: for 30 years she has not spoken about her experiences at all, not even with her twin sister or the husband, who was also interned by the Nazis. In the thirty years that followed, she never spoke about any subject more often than Auschwitz. In the 1990s she opened a Holocaust museum in Terre Haute. To this day, she gives tours there when she is not out to attend commemorations or conferences. She is highly controversial among survivors because she decided to forgive the Nazis, but that's not the point here. She is one of the last to be able to report from her own experience about Mengele's twin experiments in Auschwitz, this little-researched crime of the Nazis.

It is unclear how many children were affected. Estimates vary between 300 and 3,000. When the Russians liberated Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, they encountered 200 twin children, which astonished them because children were normally murdered in the gas chambers immediately after their arrival in Auschwitz. But Mengele and other SS men had sorted out twins at the ramp. Historians even suspect that Mengele was transferred to Auschwitz as a camp doctor in order to conduct twin research there. He cooperated with the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology in Berlin Dahlem, the leading institution for medical research in Nazi Germany.

Twin research was considered the most modern method in biomedicine at the time, and the head of the Dahlem Institute, Otmar von Verschuer, who was also Mengele's doctoral supervisor, had made a name for himself internationally in this branch. But because of the war and evacuations of families from Berlin, Verschuer ran out of test subjects. In the cattle wagons that brought hundreds of thousands of people to Auschwitz, Mengele found countless new test subjects for whom no ethical limits applied.

Josef Mengele

Josef Mengele was born in Günzburg in 1911 as the son of an agricultural machinery manufacturer.


He studied medicine and anthropology and earned two doctorates. His second dissertation on the inheritance of the cleft lip and palate was rated “with distinction” and was the standard reference on the subject until the 1960s.


In 1931 Mengele joined the "Jungstahlhelm", the armed arm of the German National People's Party. In 1938 he became a member of the NSDAP and SS. In the SS Panzer Division "Wiking" he was deployed as a troop doctor during the attack on the Soviet Union and from May 30, 1943, he was a camp doctor in Auschwitz. Hans Münch, who had also worked as a doctor there, said that Mengele "apparently asked for his transfer to Auschwitz because of the great research opportunities". In Auschwitz he made “selections”, monitored gassings and not only did human experiments on twins, in which many test subjects died. On January 18, 1945, he fled from the advancing Red Army.


Between 1945 and 1948 Mengele hid on a lonely farm in Bavaria, where he worked as a farmhand. With the help of a Nazi network, he then fled to Argentina. He later went into hiding in Paraguay and Brazil, where he died in a swimming accident in 1979.

Every night, completely exhausted, she crawled to a tap

Eva Mozes Kor arrived in Auschwitz in May 1944, at the age of ten, with her parents and three sisters. “The sight petrified us. It wasn't a place where people live, but where they die, ”she says. On the ramp, a man in uniform pointed to her and her sister Miriam. "Are those twins?" He asked. Her mother hesitated. "Is that good?" Yes, said the SS man, dragging the girls away with him. Your last look at the mother, who stretched out her arms to her, is still in the memory of Mozes Kor.

The sister and she were taken to a barrack with hundreds of twins, a former horse stable with three-story beds and three holes in the floor: the latrine. In one corner was an oven in which the older children, later Eva Mozes Kor, baked stolen potatoes at night. There was hardly any talk in the barracks. Today Eva Mozes Kor explains it as follows: When a person no longer has control over his life, he focuses on the last thing that he can control himself, namely his own thoughts and feelings. “If you say them out loud, someone may reply something you don't want to hear. For example, if my sister had said, 'We're all going to die anyway.' What should I have done with it? I really wanted to survive. "

In July Eva Mozes Kor fell ill. She developed a fever and her limbs became swollen. She was taken to the infirmary, which was a death camp, which she realized when she was no longer given anything to eat or drink. Completely exhausted, Mozes Kor crawled every night across the floor smeared with excrement to a tap. Her twin sister starved to give her her breadcrumbs. After two weeks the fever subsided again.

Mengele researched diseases on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry

Eva Mozes Kor is certain that she was injected with pathogens at the time. Why else, she says, did Mengele think he knew the course of the disease so precisely? During one round she heard him say: "She will be dead in two weeks."

This suspicion is also supported by a letter from I.G. Farben director Wilhelm Mann, in which he mentions joint experiments with Mengele in Auschwitz. Accordingly, Mengele researched diseases on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry. But there is only a facsimile of the letter in an older book; the original cannot be found. It can no longer be checked for authenticity.

The sources of what exactly Mengele did to the twins are thin. Mengele is said to have taken documents with him when he escaped from Auschwitz and the camp SS destroyed others.

For five years, the Max Planck Society had around 30 research associates and visiting scholars from Germany and abroad sift through its archives in order to research the crossings of its predecessor institution, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. The measurement procedures that Eva Mozes Kor tells of were "polysymptomatic similarity diagnoses", says the head of the research team, Carola Sachse. This method developed by Verschuer was used, among other things, to determine whether twins are identical or dizygoti. Perhaps Mengele tried to refine the measuring grid in Auschwitz.

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