Ultra-Orthodox man buys diaries of Nazi doctor Mengele for $245,000
The 31 ring notebooks and bound diaries were written from 1960-75, after Mengele escaped to Brazil following WWII; the auction house refused to divulge the buyer's identity.
The diaries written by Nazi death camp doctor Josef Mengele after he escaped to South America were auctioned off Thursday to an ultra-Orthodox American man for $245,000.
The man, who's name was not disclosed by the auction house, is apparently an avid collector of WWII artifacts.
One of the most infamous and gruesome war criminals of the Holocaust, Mengele, nicknamed the 'Angel of Death', was blamed for tens of thousands of deaths in his role as concentration camp doctor.
Over the objections of Holocaust survivors and historians, the auction took place at Alexander Historical Auctions in Stamford, Connecticut, north of New York City.
The price for Mengele's nearly 3,400 hand-written pages of invective fell short of a widely cited estimate of the value at 400,000 to $ 1 million.
The 31 ring notebooks and bound diaries were written from 1960-75, long after Mengele had escaped following of World War II to Paraguay and Brazil. He drowned in 1979 in Brazil.
During the Holocaust, the SS physician carried out grisly pseudo-medical research. One of his main roles was in "selection duty," where he decided whether arriving Jews and other prisoners went to the gas chambers or were kept alive for work details, according to the U.S. Holocaust Museum.
He used that opportunity to corral twins, mostly children, for "agonizing and lethal" experiments on their racial genetics and their exposure and resistance to disease, according to the museum's biography.
In his flight from Auschwitz as Soviet troops advanced on Poland, Mengele kept under the radar at a refugee camp and as a farm worker in Bavaria until 1949, when he escaped to South America. In the diaries sold Thursday, he writes about himself in the third person,
but the books were judged to be authentic.
The diaries had belonged for a time to Mengele's son, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, but he was apparently not the direct seller. A spokesman for the Stamford auction house confirmed the sale to the German Press Agency dpa, but refused to give information about the seller or the buyer, saying it was up to customers whether or not to go public about a purchase.
Bill Panagopulos, president of Alexander Historic Auctions, said that his intention was for a Holocaust collector or museum to buy them, "for preservation." In 2010, the auction house sold another Mengele diary, written right after he fled Auschwitz, to the grandson of a camp survivor.
Wolfgang Benz, former head of the Centre for Research on Antisemitism of the Technische Universitaet Berlin, condemned the sale of Mengele's diaries. He said the documents belonged in the German federal archives and called the auction "obscene."
"I think it's even more obscene ... that anybody expected a Jewish organization to buy these diaries," the historian told German public radio.
Mengele biographer Ulrich Voelklein called the auction "distasteful."
"Putting such things up for sale is one of the most crude things that you can imagine," Voelklein told the broadcaster.
Even more "distasteful," and almost inconceivable, he said, was that a buyer pay so much money and maybe even frame the diaries and hang them on a wall.