Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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as the cause of death. He preserved the eyes of the six heterochromic twins and prepared them for shipment to Berlin.39

A bizarre story told to me by Dr. Alexander O. made clear that aspects of the project could be less than scientific. After Mengele had demonstrated heterochromia in a few members of a Gypsy family, he instructed Dr. O. that, “when things have taken their course,” he was to extract the eyes and put them in containers with preservative to be sent to Berlin — Mengele adding ominously, “All of them, do you understand?” Dr. O. understood perfectly; and as one by one the family members died of their extreme debilitation (Mengele apparently did not think phenol injections were required), he would be notified and would excise the eyes from the corpse, prepare them for shipment, and hand them over to the block scribe. One day the scribe called him angrily and said that Mengele had a record of eight family members and, “You’ve given me only seven pairs of eyes. We are missing two eyes!” When Dr. O. began to protest that he had been notified only about the seven, the scribe said that the eyes of the last family member “have to be sent today! You know what that means — they have to go today!” O. understood that as a signal to plunder substitute eyes from random Gypsy corpses, and after stumbling about among a group of them, did succeed in finding the correct colors, a blue eye from one corpse and a black eye from another; he then excised and packed them in the usual manner.

Mengele had an added project: that of actually changing eye color in an Aryan direction. Dr. Abraham C. wondered why Mengele was devoting so much attention to a few seven-year-old boys who seemed unremarkable and then realized that “those children had one odd characteristic: they were blond and had brown eyes, so Mengele was trying to find a way to color their eyes blue.” Mengele actually injected methylene blue into their eyes, causing severe pain and inflammation, but “their, eyes of course did not change.” Dr. C. had the impression these children were gassed, but he may have been wrong: a former block elder told of thirty-six such children who apparently survived. There is a record, however, of a little girl named Dagmar, born in Auschwitz in 1944, who died after Mengele’s eye injections.40 Of the children subjected to the eye-color experiment, at least one child became almost blind; the eyes of most of the others, after considerable pain and infection, gradually returned to normal.

Concerning the study of heterochromia, Hermann Langbein reported having an opportunity after the war to meet with Professor Verschuer, who told him about the “enormously interesting specimens” of different-colored eyes Mengele had sent him, and seemed “surprised and upset” when Langbein told him they had come from Gypsies Mengele had ordered killed because of this abnormality. In Verschuer’s attitude we encounter a hypocritical academic accessory to Mengele’s characteristic pattern of killing for science. But the methylene blue injections are of a different order, not in their  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
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