Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nazi Eugenics, Cloning and Dr. Josef Mengele

Whatever happened to Nazi attempts to clone more Nazis? Dr. Josef Mengele had the task of discovering how twins occur in order to increase the number of new Nazi children. The 1978 British-American thriller film, The Boys from Brazil, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, provides a fictional answer to questions about Nazi success in that area. According to the film Mengele escaped to Brazil and there continued his attempts to clone Nazi children for the Master Race and even to clone Adolf Hitler himself.

Gregory Peck as Josef Mengele

The award winning film stars Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier and features James Mason, Lilli Palmer, Uta Hagen and Steve Guttenberg in supporting roles. The screenplay by Heywood Gould is based on the novel The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin. It was produced through Sir Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It was nominated for three Academy Awards.
Young, well-intentioned Barry Kohler (Steve Guttenberg) stumbles upon a secret organization of Third Reich war criminals holding clandestine meetings in Paraguay and realises that Dr Josef Mengele, the infamous Auschwitz doctor, is among their number. He phones Ezra Lieberman (Laurence Olivier), an aging Nazi hunter living in Austria, with this information. A highly skeptical Lieberman tries to brush Kohler's claims aside, telling him that it is a long-established fact that Mengele is still alive. Having learned when and where the next meeting to include Mengele is scheduled to occur, Kohler records part of it using a hidden microphone, but is discovered and killed while making another phone call to Lieberman. 
Aware that something is amiss, Lieberman follows Kohler's leads and begins travelling throughout Europe and North America to investigate the suspicious deaths of a number of middle-aged civil servants. He meets several of their widows and is amazed to find an uncanny resemblance in their adopted, black-haired, blue-eyed sons. It is also made clear throughout the film that, at the time of their deaths, all the civil servants were aged around 65 and had a cold, domineering, and abusive demeanor towards their adopted boys, whereas their wives were aged around 42 and doted on the sons.
So the plot thickens. Have the Nazis, led by Mengele, indeed developed a way to clone new Nazi children? And how will their secret organization be thwarted?

Dr. Mengele, known as the Butcher of Auschwitz, murdered hundreds of children and women during his experiments on twins. The book Children of the Flames, by Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Shiela Cohn Dekel, chronicles Mengele's medical experimental activities on approximately 1,500 pairs of twins who passed through the Auschwitz death camp during World War II until its liberation at the end of the war. By the 1980s only 100 sets of these twins could be found.

Argentine historian Jorge Camarasa speculated in his 2008 biography that Dr. Mengele, under the alias Rudolph Weiss, continued his human experimentation in South America. Following is an English translation of part of Amazon's Spanish description of Camarasa's book.
The Angel of Death came to Buenos Aires on June 20, 1949. The political alliances with the governments of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil offered Nazis peaceful opportunities to continue seeking answers to their concerns. Mengele even founded his own laboratory, Fadro Farm. In about 1963 Mengele was seen in Brazil, specifically in Cândido Godói. A welcome sign in that city now reads: Land of Twins. Strangely, during the years of Mengele's residence there, an inexplicable process began, a process that to this day produces some eye-popping statistics: while the birth rate of twins anywhere in the world is 5%, in Cândido Godói, it is 20%. An experiment by Mengele? It's possible. A biological phenomenon that the doctor wanted to see with his own eyes? It is also possible.   
Camarasa's theory was rejected by Brazilian scientists who had studied twins living in the area; they suggested genetic factors within that community as a more likely explanation.

All of the above was part of Nazi Germany's central program of eugenics, the racially-based social policies that sought the improvement of the Aryan race. Humans targeted were identified as life unworthy of life (Leben unwertes Leben). Those included, but were not limited to, criminals, degenerate, dissidents, feeble-minded, homosexual, idle, insane and weak. All were to be eliminated from the chain of heredity. More than 400,000 people were sterilized against their will. 70,000 were killed under Action T4, an "euthanasia" program.

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