|Dr. Auschwitz: Josef
| that hes interested in us [as Simon J. put it].
Mengele is God we found it out very fast.
and potential destroyer, he had terrifying power around him [as] the
person who, with his left eyelash, could rub us all out, in J.s
words. As he went on to explain: He [Mengele] always carried around him
an aura of
some terrifying threat, which is, I suspect, unexplainable to
human beings who didnt see this. I [have] found ...
[it] literally impossible to transmit the edge of this terror.
Mostly Mengele kept twins alive for his research. Teresa W. claimed
never to have been aware of his killing any of those she had measured; and
while she might have resisted learning the full truth, it would have been
impossible [for her] not to know. Similarly, the twins
father (or prisoner leader) of the male group also stated, As far
as I know, none of the twins was gassed or burned. He pointed out that,
in January 1945, the older male twins were evacuated but the smaller
children stayed with him and were with him when the Russians entered the
camp.33 But another inmate, who assisted
Teresa W. in her anthropological measurements and made wider observations,
claimed that about 15 percent of the twins were killed, some as a
consequence of experiments performed on them, including surgical operations.
Generally speaking, then, Mengele kept intact his two main data
bases in Auschwitz and Birkenau; killed individual twins (especially when
the other had died) or pairs of twins living outside of the twins' blocks
(notably Gypsy twins at the time of annihilation of that camp) for post-mortem
examinations;* and subjected twins on the childrens block and elsewhere
to fatal operations.
The irony remains that, among children, one almost
had to be a twin to stay alive. As a survivor stated, Virtually no one
from my school survived, and no one from there of my age except another
twin. The proof of that survival could be seen in the documentary Russian
film made at the time of the liberation of Auschwitz.34 In a moving scene, a hundred or more children
emerge from inside the camp, most of them twins, including some older ones who
had originally been ordered to evacuate but, in the confusion, had been able to
hide themselves safely. Simon J. told me proudly, I'm in that group
I remember that very well.
Mengeles relationship to
his main professional assistant tells us much about his sense of the project.
When Teresa W. was severely ill with typhus, she told Mengele about her
anthropological background and
* Certain twins, not on any
of the regular twins blocks, were subjected to extensive examinations by
Mengeles team of prisoner doctors. One prisoner doctor, in discussing
Mengeles killing of an individual twin for the purpose of the post-mortem
findings, told me that he and his prisoner colleagues knew all these
cases because they passed through our hands. They would receive the
post-mortem report enormously detailed all of the organs
described in all particulars; and every twin in this group had his
own file, and the post-mortem examination was the twins last document in
the file. The twin had to be killed, at least in certain cases, in order
to complete his or her research file.