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Educational Resources

The Holocaust

The Mengele Letters

Handwritten Letters From Nazi SS Doctor Joseph Mengele

These pieces are on loan from the Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation . These documents are currently on display at CANDLES. Visit us during our normal hours to see them in person.

Both letters were sent by Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele to his wife, Irene, while he was stationed at Auschwitz. The letters offer rare insight into the life and mind of the man who has been nicknamed the “Angel of Death” and the “God of Auschwitz” for his seeming mastery over who lived and who died in the camp. These letters offer a jarring juxtaposition to what we know of Mengele and the horrific medical experiments he performed on camp prisoners, including the twin sisters Miriam Mozes Zeiger and Eva Mozes Kor, the founder of CANDLES.

“Every morning after roll call, Mengele came to our barracks for inspection. Smiling, he called us meine kinde, my children. Some of the twins liked him and called him Uncle Mengele. Not I. I was terrified of him. Even in those days I knew he did not care for us like a real doctor.” 
                    - Eva Mozes Kor, A-7063, Surviving the Angel of Death

Letter from April 26, 1944

The medal Mengele describes, the Kriegsverdienstkreuz or War Merit Cross, was created in 1939 by Adolph Hitler to replace the non-combatant Iron Cross. The medal had two grades, 2nd class and 1st class, and was awarded with swords and without swords. The version with swords that Mengele received was awarded for service above and beyond the call of duty, though not necessarily in direct combat.

Letter from December 14, 1944

The format of the stationery, written in such a way that it can be folded to form its own envelope, is typical of the time the letter was written. The brown stamp was used to seal the letter, which resulted in it being cut into quarters when opened. Also, note the Auschwitz postmark on the red stamp. Mengele addresses his wife as “Butzele” and himself as “Butz,” which are common German terms of endearment.

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