Network of top scientists helped 'Angel of Death' Mengele By Krysia Diver | The Guardian
The "Angel of Death" Josef Mengele, who was long thought to have been the black sheep of Germany's scientists under the Nazi regime, was in fact supported by a network of elite researchers, new research has revealed.
Mengele founded a kindergarten and played the violin to children in a concentration camp, but also injected the hearts of children with chloroform, infected them with typhus and destroyed women's fallopian tubes with acid.
His catalogue of horror stories also included injecting children's eyes with ink, experimenting on people with cleft palates and poisoning 900 sets of twins.
Although his deeds are well documented, assumptions that he was one of a few who pushed back the boundaries of science for his own pleasure have been shattered. Six years of research led by a political scientist, Dr Susanne Heim, has revealed that the Angel of Death was not alone.
Archives have previously revealed that Mengele had assistants such as the Hungarian pathologist and prisoner of war Miklos Nyiszli, who said: "I would bathe the corpses of cripples and dwarves in calcium chloride and cook them in large pots so that their skeletons could be preserved in the Museum of the Third Reich."
But records have been unearthed that Mengele's work was supported by elite researchers attached to the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute, whose scientists have been awarded more than 20 Nobel prizes.
Although their personal goal was not essentially to create a super-race for Adolf Hitler, they did not object to the scientific freedom that the dictator bestowed on them. Indeed, Mengele's supervisor for his PhD was the internationally acclaimed scientist Otmar von Verschuer, who was renowned for his research into twins.
The Max-Planck Institute - formerly the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute - decided in 1997 to fund research into its murky past. A spokesman for the institute said: "No goal in research can justify crossing ethical boundaries.
"We wanted to discover how and why the limits of science were crossed and why there was such a blur between animal and human trials. We appointed a group of independent historians to get to the bottom of a mystery that has lain dormant for a long time."
The director of research for the Berlin-based project was Dr Heim. She told The Guardian last night: "It was formerly believed that scientists in Germany were oppressed by the Nazi regime, that there were only a few guilty people. But in truth, these doctors were in paradise.
"The distinction between politics and science was hazy and doctors had the freedom to do as they liked, so long as they could prove that their goal was to breed a super-race of strong soldiers for the advancement of warfare."
She added: "We cannot deny that the work carried out at that time has helped the advancement of medicine.
"Until recently, the brains of people killed by euthanasia during the war were used for scientific research."
Dr Heim's research also revealed a possible connection between the Nazis and the deceased Adolf Butenandt, whose work on sexual hormones and protein belonged to the greatest scientific breakthroughs in the 20th century.
"I appreciate our revelations must be disturbing for the Max Plank Institute", said Dr Heim,"but the institute should be wary not to sit back and think that they have done their bit. They should use these findings as a platform to discuss science today and make sure that researchers keep within the ethical boundaries."
A warrant for Mengele's arrest, claiming he had murdered prisoners, was issued in 1959. He died in Brazil 20 years later.
No laboratory note or manuscript relating to his work has ever been found.
Secrets of ex-Nazi's Chilean fiefdom
By Becky Branford | BBC News
Paul Schaefer - a former Nazi medic, Baptist preacher and alleged cult leader - has finally been captured in Argentina after eight years on the run.
His arrest means he may face trial on outstanding charges of the sexual abuse of young boys in Chile.
Mr Schaefer, who is in his 80s, has also been denounced by former followers and by human rights campaigners.
For them, his capture signals the end to decades of impunity for what they allege are his strange and terrible crimes.
Paul Schaefer was a medic in Hitler's army during World War II. After the war, he set up an evangelical ministry and a youth home, purportedly to care for war orphans.
But he was charged with sexually abusing two boys - and in 1961 he fled to Chile, reportedly accompanied by some 70 followers.
There, in a lush valley in the Andean foothills, he set up Colonia Dignidad - now renamed Villa Baviera.
The colony near the city of Parral, some 350km (220 miles) south of Santiago, grew to about 300 members - mostly German immigrants, or their descendants, but including some Chilean followers.
The 137-sq-km (53-sq-mile) Colonia Dignidad boasted a school, a hospital, two airstrips, a restaurant, and a power station, and reportedly made millions of dollars through a diversified range of businesses, including agriculture, mining and real estate.
It won over local people by offering jobs and free schooling and hospital care.
Details of life in the colony are hard to verify. Some visitors have described a scene from 1930s Germany, with women wearing aprons, with their hair in pigtails, and men in lederhosen.
Defenders say the members of the colony may be eccentric, but they are harmless, and in fact do good.
"I know them, and I like them," Otto Dorr Zegers, a prominent Chilean psychiatrist who has worked in the Colonia Dignidad hospital, told the New York Times.
"Their ideology is a little bit old-fashioned, like that of the Mennonites who went to the United States, but nothing justifies the co-ordinated, synchronised lies and distortions that have been invented about them."
But "defectors" from the camp paint a more sinister picture. His accusers say Colonia Dignidad was Mr Schaefer's fiefdom, where he was worshipped as a god.
They say residents, who are never allowed beyond the gates of the camp, are kept strictly segregated into genders - so much so that the birth rate of the camp is extremely low.
Residents are taught to shun sexual desires - with electric shocks administered to the genitals of young boys, former residents say.
And they accuse Mr Schaefer of the almost daily sexual abuse of young boys. Horror stories have emerged of the young sons of poor local families "disappearing" within the barriers of the compound.
But Mr Schaefer's story is not confined to the perimeter fence of the colony - topped with barbed wire, studded with searchlights, and overlooked by a watchtower.
It goes right to the heart of the Chilean state during the iron rule of Gen Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s and 1980s - a period with which Chileans are still struggling to come to terms today.
The son of Manuel Contreras - the head of Dina, Chile's now-disbanded notorious secret police - has told the Los Angeles Times his father first visited Colonia Dignidad with Gen Pinochet in 1974.
He has spoken of the warm relationship that grew between his father and Mr Schaefer.
Former political prisoners of Gen Pinochet have testified to a warren of stone-walled tunnels under the colony, where they were taken to be tortured with electric shocks to the strains of Wagner and Mozart.
The Truth and Justice Commission, which investigated human rights abuses during Gen Pinochet's rule, backs such allegations.
And despite decades of allegations concerning the sexual abuse of boys within the compound, charges were not filed against Schaefer until 1996 - six years after Chile began its return to democracy.
Thanks to Mr Schaefer's close links with Chile's ruling elite, the colony was able to operate with impunity as a "state within a state", said a Chilean congressional report.
Critics say elements within Chile's ruling establishment would still prefer to keep details of his involvement with Gen Pinochet's government concealed.
They say Chile must confront such allegations if it is to complete the process of coming to terms with its past.