Real life psycho

So I’m sitting in the break room at work trying to read but there’s a really gripping show on the History channel.  It’s a special on Nazi technology.  And then I got my idea for the real psycho to blog about for my Readings in the Genre class.  And no, it’s not the obvious Adolf Hitler.  No, I’m blogging about the horrible Josef Mengele, the doctor from Auschwitz, nicknamed the “Angel of Death” and user of many aliases to elude capture.  The filth that never was punished for his crimes.  As though his experiments aren’t bad enough, he died never having remorse or regret for what he did and insisting that he “had never personally harmed anyone in his whole life.” (quote from his son in an article in wikipedia) That to me is the definitive qualification for a psycho.

Josef Mengele experimented heavily on twins in the Auschwitz camp.  He apparently was a hereditary biologist before the Nazi regime and was given the power as the camp doctor to do what he wanted.  He’d separated the twins out from the masses heading for the chambers and be nice to them and give them candies.  And then the next moment shoot and dissect them while their bodies were still warm.   Or working on them while they were alive without giving them any anesthesia.  We’ve read some pretty gruesome things in this class, but Mengele takes the cake.  He’s truly what nightmares are made from.  I won’t scar you all with the details of his human experiments.  But it goes back to a theme I’ve seen discussed by classmates a number of times now.  It’s frightening what a person can do when given unlimited power and authority over others.  

This guy just makes my skin crawl.  I read about a number of real serial killers and others for this class.  But there’s just something about this guy that feels so much worse than most.  I just don’t understand how someone can be “nice” to the kids one second and then so brutal the next.  The best explanation I can come up is that he really, truly, believed that they weren’t humans at all.  Nothing more than blades of grass.

Throughout this class I’ve tried to find something of value to take from the real and fictional stories.  More than just what I can learn about the craft of writing.  My wife is always trying to help me see what positives can come out of such destruction.  That was kind of the tone of the afore mentioned special on the History channel.  No question, the Nazi regime was horrible.  But the special focused on the advancements for all of humanity in the form of science and technology.  Recording devices leading to our DVDs, or weapons leading to the jet engine and rocket technology to name a few.  The best I can come up about Mengele is that the rest of the world can be warned about giving someone too much power.  But I’m sorry, that’s not enough.  It’s disgusting that one, there are people in the world who think they can get away with anything, and two, that so many of them have gone unpunished.  Or unpunished for a while before getting caught.  Or getting caught but able to live a quiet life in prison instead of being punished the way they should be.  Oh, wait, that doesn’t sound Christian does it.  Well, on this point I refuse to back down.

6 thoughts on “Real life psycho”

  1. Interesting post. Punishment is a weird word. What’s the suitable punishment for crimes such as these? Certainly pain of an equal, if not harsher, amount seems suitable–old eye-for-an-eye style. But that breaks the important principle of “no cruel and unusual punishment.” So, is a death sentence a suitable punishment? I think it’s an easy ticket out. Then there’s prison–giving this man hundreds of years of jail time doesn’t seem like a punishment, and jail is technically supposed to rehabilitate, not punishment. I’m not going to start talking about religion, but I think it’s true that the most solace any of us will find is knowing men like Mengele don’t make up the world, that Mengele surely had his own demons to deal with. Arguing with him that he killed humans might be worthless, but living in a mind so full of hatred seems worse sentence than having to face remorse. But I don’t know, some people, I suppose, really enjoy being angry.

    1. That’s it? I don’t have a “thing” about Nazi’s. Saying such on the openness of the internet can be damaging. Thought I explained where it came from pretty well at the beginning of this post and on our class chat. I have a thing about people in a position traditional known for trust, like a doctor, abusing that like Mengele.

  2. I completely agree with your assessment of Mengele as an individual psycho. The social, economic, and political factors leading to the rise of European fascism in the 1930’s are complicated, and Germany was one of three nations that fell. Fascism requires demagogue—Italy had Mussolini and Spain had Franco—but under Hitler, Germany and the Nazis became the most ambitious and the most evil of the three. The Nazis created a fetid Petri dish allowing the individual psychopath to thrive. Some of the “low-level” psychos (ex.,some of the sadistic camp guards) *may* never have given in to their horrific impulses had they not been encouraged, but others, like Mengele, with their systematic and organized torture and killing, found a home. They didn’t have to hide; their sickness was encouraged and celebrated. I believe the Mengeles of the period would have killed with or without the protection of the Nazis. To dismiss him as just another Nazi is the easy way out, and to fail to recognize that the Nazis celebrated and made use of Mengele and his evil is to lessen their atrocities.

  3. Interesting post. A lot of bad things came out of that war, and I’m not surprised a lot of people found and embraced their inner psycho. I wonder if this was the inspiration for one of the characters on American Psycho: Asylum. Not sure if you watch that show or not.

  4. The fucked up thing about the Nazis (well, one of the ZILLION) is that we recruited so many of their top scientists to help our weapons program. I grew up believing that warfare in general and World War 2 was a moral conflict. We were good guys, they were bad guys, and we got into the war to stop them. But the sad fact is that we profited from atrocity and framing complex subject matter like the fallout from an international conflict is simplistic and childish.

    On the other hand, the Nazis built actual murder factories and the Japanese cut a swath of atrocity through the countries they occupied, so they really really needed to be stopped.

    Anyway, Mengele wasn’t the only guy in the war to conduct these sorts of experiments. The Japanese Unit 731 were doing the same sorts of horrible, inhuman shit. The thing that I always wonder about is the concept of situational psychopathy. It’s been recorded that concentration camp prison guards would do terrible things as part of their job but they’d go home and be completely normal husbands and fathers. I’ve always wondered if guys like Mengele were like that, where they weren’t psychos in the way we’ve discussed in class but they compartmentalized their deeds by believing it was toward a higher cause and (you nailed it) by viewing their subjects as less than human.

    Ever been to a holocaust site? They’re pretty fucked up.

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