Nazi doctor Mengele's diaries up for sale

18th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The diaries of feared Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, the so-called "Angel of Death" who carried out gruesome medical experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz, will be auctioned in the United States.

The diaries, written after World War II once Mengele had fled from the Allies to Latin America, contain his philosophical reflections, autobiographical stories and poems penned between 1960 to 1975.

The Connecticut-based Alexander Autographs said Thursday's auction would include some 3,500 pages of "hidden journals" written by the doctor who terrorized the inmates at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

The items, mostly small, spiral-bound notebooks, are expected to fetch between $300,000 and $400,000 at auction.

Mengele had fled Europe at the end of the war when Hitler's Germany was defeated and he was never captured, dying in Brazil in 1979 at the age of 67.

Alexander Autographs, which specializes in historical manuscripts, said the auction would include a "historically important" lot of 31 manuscripts in various forms, including bound journals.

There are also school textbooks bearing the words in Spanish "Cuaderno," or "Cultura General" or "Agenda classica" on the cover.

The contents are written in blue ink, in a sloped, regular handwriting. Crayon drawings cover some of the pages.

Some were written in Paraguay and Brazil, where Mengele lived after fleeing Europe.

"All writings are penned in ink in a legible hand, in generally excellent condition," the auction house said.

Chairman of Alexander Historical Auctions, Bill Panagopulos, told AFP that the seller was "an American corporation" but did not reveal its full identity.

One part of the journals has already been published by German magazine Bunte, and also used in a biography of Mengele written by two journalists.

"They were seized in 2004 by the police at the home of a German couple with whom he was living in Sao Paulo," he said, adding they were then given to Mengele's son, Rolf Mengele, who only saw his father twice in his life.

"We have a few parties interested, organizations and a few collectors," said Panagopulos, adding the preference would be for them to be bought by a Jewish organization.

Some 40 percent of the writings are autobiographical, tracing Mengele's flight across Europe in the aftermath of the war. He talks of himself in the third person and refers to himself as "Andreas."

In one commentary, Mengele complains that sexual promiscuity has led "to a dreadful mixing of the races with the northern Europeans... when you start mixing the races, there is a decline in civilization."

Based at Auschwitz from 1943, Mengele helped supervise the selection of prisoners on arrival to death camps, sending those deemed unfit for slave labor to be gassed with deadly Zyklon B.

He gained his notorious reputation due to his pseudo-medical experiments, for example on twins he plucked from among the prisoners.

Mengele was a member of the Nazis' elite SS, which ran death camps across occupied Europe.

After reaching Argentina at the start of the 1950s, he fled to Paraguay in 1961 still hunted by Interpol and then to Brazil, where he lived in Sao Paulo.

His death was only confirmed in 1985, after his body was exhumed. Some time afterwards the diaries then appeared.

© 2011 AFP

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