The Mengele Case

Mengele - The Truth Exposed
Cover of the Book “Mengele – The Truth Exposed”.

In June 1985 the Brazilian Federal Police, acting on information received from German authorities, announced the discovery of Josef Mengele’s body, who had allegedly died by drowning off Bertioga, Sao Paulo state, in 1979. As investigations went on, Ben Abraham began to challenge the “evidences” presented by the team of forensic scientists in their attempt to prove the corpse found was indeed Mengele’s.

Ben Abraham acted extensively to call the attention of officials in Brazil, Israel, Germany and the USA to discrepancies between characteristics of the exhumed body and official information about the true Mengele, collected from SS files, the Paraguayan government and other sources. Most of the information he was presenting came from the files of his friend Menachem Russek, former Director of Investigations of Nazi Criminals in Israel. Ben Abraham says that, after careful investigation, Russek refused to confirm the authenticity of the body found in Brazil, but superior orders ultimately led to him being withdrawn from the case.

Because Russek could not act in his own name, he gave access to all the documents in his possession to Ben Abraham, who published them in his book “Mengele – The Truth Exposed”.

As he wrote in his book “Mengele – The Truth Exposed”, the main questions which he says remain unanswered by the Brazilian authorities are the following:

  1. The finger prints, dental arch and calligraphy of the man whose body was found at the Embu cemetery in Brazil were different from the true Mengele’s.
  2. The exhumed cranium was 6.5 centimeters larger than Mengele’s cranium.
  3. The height of the skeleton exhumed was greater than Mengele’s height in 1938.
  4. One of Mengele’s tooth restorations could not be found on the same tooth of the exhumed body.
  5. Dentist Dr. Maria Helena Bueno de Castro, who presented herself to the Brazilian police, said she had treated the true Mengele two months after his alleged death. But she was declared insane by the police and her testimony was invalidated.
  6. The Brazilian police did not allow Dr. Menachem Russek to meet with Dr. Maria Helena Bueno de Castro.
  7. According to Dr. Maria Helena Bueno de Castro, the Brazilian authorities refused to gather other witnesses who also had seen Mengele at her office two months after his alleged death. These witnesses were mysteriously murdered afterwards, never having given their testimony. Their deaths had not been thoroughly investigated by the police, the dentist said.
  8. The files of Dr. Maria Helena’s patient coincided with the official dental SS files of Mengele, but not with the skeleton exhumed by the Brazilian police.
  9. The man who assumed Mengele’s identity had allegedly been treated by another dentist, Dr. Kasumasa Tutiya. According to Dr. Menachem Russek, that dentist’s appointment book had been grossly altered on the dates of the supposed appointments that coincided with dates recorded in Mengele’s diary. Besides, even though the dates of the appointments in the book and in the diary matched, the times did not.
  10. The x-rays provided by Dr. Tutiya had been included in the official files of the investigation, despite discrepancies with the true Mengele’s dental arch, while Mengele’s dental file from the SS archives had been omitted.
  11. The supposed drowning had been said to have occurred in February 7th, 1979. But Rolf Mengele’s wife had sent Josef Mengele a letter on March 9th, 1979, congratulating him for his birthday.
  12. In March 1985, three months before the discovery of the body at the Embu cemetery in Brazil, Mengele’s x-rays were stolen from the Berlin Documentation Center.

His endeavors to prove that the official reports were wrong had large repercussion in Brazil and internationally. As a result, the Israeli and German governments did not close the case for 7 years, as well as the Yad Vashem Memorial Museum.

In relation to the Israeli authorities, Ben Abraham had a meeting with then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir in the beginning 1987, and told him he was preparing to give an interview to London’s Daily Express revealing all the information in his possession about the Mengele case. Shamir asked him to wait for one month, so Ben Abraham cancelled the scheduled London interview and waited for the agreed deadline. 30 days after, the Israeli Consul in Sao Paulo, Mr. Tzvi Caspi, informed Ben Abraham that Shamir had officially announced on the Israeli TV that Israel had reopened the case because they had had access to proofs demonstrating the corpse found in Brazil was not that of Mengele.

During the same trip to Israel in which he met with Shamir, Ben Abraham presented a copy of his materials at the archives of the Yad Vashem. The Director of the archives, Dr. Shmuel Krakowski, sent a letter to the president of the Sherit Hapleita of Brazil, Mr. Manfred Freifeld, confirming he had received the documents and stating that “The documents strengthen our belief that the body exhumated [sic] in Brazil is in fact not that of Mengele. Therefore there are no reason [sic] to close the Mengele file, and cease investigation as to his whereabouts”.

Ben Abraham also arranged a meeting between dentist Dr. Maria Helena Bueno de Castro and Knesset member Dov Schilanski, then President of the National Commission of Internal affairs, who became convinced that her testimony was true and her files were accurate. Besides declarations on newspapers about the case, he also sent a letter to Yitzchak Shamir demanding an official declaration of the Israeli government denying the authenticity of the body.

During his stay in Brazil, Dov Schilanski gave Ben Abraham a copy of the motion he had presented to the Israeli Prime Minister, asking why the Israeli Embassy in Brazil had not refuted some misleading information presented to the public by the Brazilian police as to the Israeli stance on the case. One of the members of the Brazilian police team responsible for exhuming the body had declared to the Brazilian press that Israeli pathologist Dr. Maurice Rogev had confirmed the accuracy of the ongoing investigation. The same information was published by Brazilian newspapers. Schilanski demanded it was officially denied by the Israeli government, since Rogev had always declared the information presented by the Brazilian police still needed to be clarified. Ben Abraham wrote a report about the issue, which was published by the Resenha Judaica magazine in March, 1988.

Ben Abraham also managed to reach out to the German authorities in charge of the case, with the aid of the B’nai B’rith association, in 1987. He says that his action helped Germany not close the case at that time, officially stating that they would keep the case open for at least one year for further investigations.

The founder of the CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) association, Mrs. Eva Kor, helped spread word internationally about Menachem Russek’s report, in coordinated efforts with Ben Abraham. In 1989 she led an international convention of the members of the association in Jerusalem. As Ben Abraham was unable to come due to medical restrictions, Eva distributed an open letter by Ben Abraham to the journalists present at the conference mentioning the arguments listed in his book.

Simon Wiesenthal’s opinion was also influenced by Dr. Ben Abraham’s book. In the Bulletin of Information No. 29, published from Vienna, Austria, in January, 31, 1989, Wiesenthal states that in the previous year he had received “information which raised grave doubts” about the case. He then mentions the details listed in Ben Abraham’s book: the possible causes of a hole in the cranium; the length of the skeleton; Dr. Maria Helena Bueno de Castro’s testimony about having treated Mengele after his alleged death. The Bulletin closes by mentioning Menachem Russek’s and German Senior Public Prosecutor Hans-Eberhard Klein’s refusal to pronounce Mengele dead at the time.

In 1992, DNA testing confirmed that the sample tested contained the same genetic material as a sample of blood of Josef Mengele’s son, Ralf. However, Ben Abraham was not convinced that the sample was genuine. He claims that the bones sent to Oxford University for examination might have been those of Josef Mengele’s relatives buried in Germany, which could have easily been stolen.

He argues that Mengele was protected by the CIA until 1992 when he died, because he had provided US intelligence with information about his experiments with human beings during the Holocaust, as well as with military information.

Additionally, Ben Abraham says that it was only in 1992 that Rolf Mengele finally agreed to allow for his blood sample to be collected for DNA testing because by that time his father was already dead, which had not been true in 1985.

At the end of his book, Ben Abraham accuses Germany, the United States, Israel and Brazil of connivance with the plot not to unveil truth in Mengele’s case. The four countries accepted the DNA testing results as authentic proof of the identity of the corpse found in Brazil.