|AUSCHWITZ: THE RACIAL CURE
| to be under absolute control. She did not think Mengele
extraordinary but just a very charismatic man with the
implication that only in Auschwitz could he develop that charisma and become
Mengele. For C. thought he had star quality:
Marilyn Monroe flashed through my mind, here referring to his
fetish about appearance and his eroticizing the contrast between his own
physical perfection and the impaired state of inmates. She did not speak
bitterly of him he had on the whole been pleasant to her and had enabled
her to thrive by Auschwitz standards but at the end she said something
characteristic in regard to Mengele and his control: I was going to ask
you not to reveal my whereabouts because I know hes still alive, and he
might not be very happy knowing that I was.
There was much sexual
speculation about Mengele among the inmates. There were many stories of women
prisoners finding him extremely attractive, but Eva C. told me that he
had no sense for women. Although he did sometimes manifest prurient
interest in sexual details when questioning pregnant women (according to Dr.
Lengyel, he never missed the chance to ask the women indiscreet and
improper questions), 53 he seemed to
others distant and puritanical. C. told of an incident when, seeing a hefty
prisoner from the rear stripped to the waist in front of a block, Mengele
called angrily, What is that man doing there? Then the prisoner,
turning around, revealed herself to be a woman (she was a German lesbian).
Despite the fact that she spoke arrogantly to him, Mengele just got
terribly, terribly red,
blushed, and said, Oh, carry on, and
turned away and marched out of there. Dr. Lottie M. similarly recalled
Mengele being much more concerned than the other SS doctors about lesbianism in
the womens camp as well as about homosexuality in the mens camp.
Prisoners varied in their impression of whether Mengele could be
influenced and whether he was corruptible. A group of them officially
congratulated him upon learning that his wife had given birth to a son, but
neither becoming a father nor the congratulations seemed to change
Mengeles attitudes. It was widely believed that, like most SS personnel,
he had enriched himself in Auschwitz (contrary to Ernst B.s emphasis on
his complete integrity) but that (as one survivor put it), while most of the SS
doctors would both take and give, Mengele would only
take. His attitudes often confused prisoners because, as Dr. Marie L.
observed, Nobody understood what he wanted.
Mengeles apparent overtures of colleagueship, most prisoner doctors
maintained no illusions of equality. The relationship was exemplified by an
incident in which he carefully examined the wounded buttocks of a Polish
prisoner physician and prescribed medication for washing and treating the area
after he himself had ordered that the man be given twenty-five lashes
for an alleged infraction, and then observed the punishment.
generally thought of as being in control of others and himself,