Internal Israel Police Report Provides Details of Mengele's Life
Written in December 1986 and prepared by the Israel Police Unit for Investigation of Nazi Crimes, "Nazi criminal Josef Mengele - a summary" revealed the major intelligence effort put forth by Israeli police to find and capture Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele. Dozens of pages long, the report is a meticulous account of information collected by police over the course of several decades through interrogations, conversations with Holocaust survivors and people who knew or had met Mengele and via various organizations around the world. The report provides a comprehensive picture of Dr. Mengele from his birth, to his crimes during the Holocaust as the "Angel of Death" of Auschwitz, his escape to South America and the mysterious story surrounding his death.
From May 24, 1943, through the camp's evacuation on January 18, 1945, Mengele served as a doctor at Auschwitz. According to the testimony of Dr. Otto Hans Kahler, Mengele showed up in the unit where he served as a medical officer during the German withdrawal from Sudetenland in April 1945 wearing the uniform of an officer of the Wehrmacht, the German army, rather than in his SS uniform. After the unit surrendered to the U.S. Army and was taken to a POW camp, Mengele and Kahler shared a room. Mengele was not identified as a member of the SS by U.S. soldiers as he did not have the trademark tattoo of the SS. He was liberated with other captives several weeks later.
On June 20, 1949, Mengele boarded the North King sailing from Italy to Argentina with forged International Red Cross papers with the name Helmut Gregor, an Italian-born mechanic. Upon his arrival in South America, he received an Argentine identity card from the local police and later began work as the South American representative of the German Karl Mengele and Sons firm, which manufactured agricultural machinery.
In November 1956, Mengele showed up at the German embassy in Buenos Aires and presented his original birth certificate. He then received a new Argentine identity card with his real name, date of birth (March 16, 1911) and place of birth (Gunzburg). When the German ambassador in Argentina was asked for a an explanation years later, he said, "I received instructions from the Foreign Ministry in Bonn not to pay any attention to the issue, since there was no legal arrest order against Dr. Josef Mengele at the time, and the German delegation didn't request his extradition from Argentina."
The report also includes information on Mengele's personal life and details about the people who helped him hide and escape. Mengele's wife, Irene, never joined him in South American and divorced him in 1954. Four years later, Mengele married his younger brother Karl's widow, Martha Maria Mengele.
In 1961, Mengele began working on the farm of Gitta Stammer and her husband, who immigrated to Brazil from Hungary in 1948, using the Swiss identity Peter Hochbichler. In 1963, Gitta Stammer came across a photograph of Mengele in a local newspaper and became suspicious of his resemblance to her farm manager. Hochbichler confirmed his true identity and told the Stammers about his past and his connections with Nazi leadership in South America. Though she wanted to dismiss Mengele after the revelation, a man later showed up at the Stammer farm, introduced himself as the "manager of the Mengele company" and offered the Stammers $3,000 to allow Mengele to stay on at the farm. The man arrived again in 1974, offered the Stammers and additional $5,000 and asked them to purchase a house for Mengele. The Stammers sold their house and moved away.
Another woman, Austrian Liselotte Bossert, helped Mengele hide after meeting his son, Rolf, in Brazil in 1977. Bossert's husband drove Rolf to his father's house on the farm where he gave him $5,000 and spent the week with him.
Bossert also told police about the circumstances surrounding Mengele's death in 1979. Mengele accompanied Bossert and her family on their vacation at the Bertioga beach in Brazil. According to Bossert, the sea suddenly became stormy around 5:30 pm while the family was swimming so she brought her children to shore, but saw Mengele calling for help in the distance. After swimming out to Mengele and pulling his body from the water, Bossert's husband was evacuated by ambulance and Bossert remained behind with Mengele's body. She called for help and an ambulance arrived at 11 pm and took Mengele to the morgue.
Because of a heavy thunderstorm, the ambulance was delayed and did not arrive at the morgue until 2 am. At the morgue, Bossert presented forged papers to the authorities with the name Wolfgang Gerhard, the man who had first introduced her to Mengele. The doctor on duty did not examine the body, did not photograph it and did not take fingerprints.
Instead of publicizing his death, Bossert let Mengele's family know he had died in a letter. His son Rolf arrived in Brazil shortly thereafter and collected Mengele's journals, which were sold at public auction in 2010 to the grandson of an Auschwitz survivor.
In 1985, Mengele's body was exhumed and his dentist in Sao Paolo was found to provide authorities with the X-rays of Mengele's teeth. In 1992, a genetic test confirmed his death conclusively.