Mengele, known as “the Angel of Death,” is remembered for his inhumane medical experimentation on primarily Jewish and Roma – or “Gypsy” -- children and twins, and his position of deciding whether inmates would perform forced labor or be sent directly to the gas chambers.
Bill Panagopulos, of Alexander Autographs, sold the 180-page journal for an undisclosed amount on Tuesday to an anonymous East Coast Jewish philanthropist who plans to donate the piece to a Holocaust museum.
The buyer is the grandson of an Auschwitz survivor who personally encountered Mengele at the concentration camp. He heard about the manuscript sale through a Jewish Web-based publication.
According to the auction houses’ Web site, the journal contains “historic content and handwritten political and personal manifesto” and is “a stream-of-consciousness ramble offering an incredible view into the mind of an obviously unrepentant and quite insane murderer still on the run fifteen years after escaping his crimes in collapsing Nazi Germany.”
It also gives a disturbing look into how Mengele’s mind worked.
“He would switch between the excitement of seeing a monkey in the wild to explaining how it was important for civilization to find a way to eradicate those that were mentally or physically deficient,” Panagopulos said. “He was totally callused, brutal and coldhearted. Just nasty.”
TheUnited States Holocaust Museum issued a statement, saying it “does not know if the diary, purportedly a post-war work, is authentic. There is a history of forgeries and alleged 'diaries' by Nazis."
There has been a history of people forging World War documents, but the Nazis were not the forgers, Panagopulos points out.
The museum’s statement continues, "whatever its origins, nothing can hide Mengele's real legacy as a perpetrator in the brutal murder of more than one million Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau and the unspeakable cruelty he inflicted upon the victims of his 'medical experiments.'"
While the auction house has a policy of keeping both consigners and buyers anonymous, Panagopulos said he has no question of the work’s authenticity and adding that the consigner is a U.S citizen who received the piece directly from a member of the Mengele family.
“With 20 years of experience in handwriting, combined with knowing where this piece came from, I’m utterly convinced of its authenticity,” Panagopulos said. “I would never put it up for sale if I didn’t think it was authentic.”
Though the sale has received criticism from groups like the New York City-based Jewish Congress, Panagopulos thinks the item is important evidence of a major crime.
“I’m happy he bought it,” Panagopulos said. “I think it’s the right thing, and I’m glad it’s not going to a collector or stuck in a leather slip case to be stuck on a shelf somewhere. The buyer personally spoke today with many Holocaust survivors, all of whom applauded him for purchasing the manuscript.”
Though cost of the final sale is undisclosed, Panagopulos said that the auction was settled in a private sale after a Jan. 21 auction did not meet the reserve price of around $60,000.