In Search Of…. S03E18: The Angel of Death

The last few episodes have been a bit up and down, including the wonderful strangeness of Dreams and Nightmares and the Money Pit Mystery, interspersed with sparse fare like Animal ESP and Psychic Sea Hunt. Maybe this next episode will be fun? And it's titled… Angel of Death, aka Joseph Mengele.

Huh.

Pictured: human joy

Okay, this episode will not be fun. Also, my usual way of dealing with the less fun episodes with streams of jokes really won't be appropriate. Sorry.

The episode begins by talking about a recent (for 1978) arrest of a wanted Nazi in Brazil. We segue from this to talking about Nazi-hunting detective Simon Wiesenthal, and from there we segue to talking about Mengele.

So Mengele… look, Google the name. I'm getting depressed just thinking about the guy. He was a Nazi war criminal at Auschwitz. We talk to one of his former inmates, and we see a bunch of footage showing his escape from the retreating Soviets, his move to Argentina and then his pursuit by legendary Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

Wiesenthal is interviewed. He talks about identifying Mengele in the 1950s, and Germany's quest to get him extradited. The Argentinians objected, and Wiesenthal suggests that this was a move to protect Eichmann. We go to the Israeli kidnapping and trial of Eichmann. Mengele subsequently disappeared. He actually returned to Germany, where he was a wanted man, to a town where his family was an important employer. No one turned him in.

There's more on Mengele's hopscotch retreat from country to country, just ahead of his pursuers. There's interviews with agents of the German and Israeli governments on the subject of trying to get Mengele extradited from Paraguay. Finally, we have a good look at the resort where he hid out during his final years. At the time the episode was filmed, it was still considered possible that the old man would pay for his crimes. In fact, he died shortly afterwards.

This episode is actually pretty straightforward. It's a pretty detailed documentary of Wiesenthal's pursuit of Mengele. There's a couple of omissions – notably, the legality of the Israeli capture of Eichmann– but mostly it's pretty good. It's certainly better than many of the fictional recounts of the saga. About a year after this episode was made, Mengele died of natural causes.

So, yeah, sorry to my loyal tens of readers -- I don't have a lot of jokes, it’s an episode on a depressing subject and it ends with a truly awful war criminal escaping justice. I'm just going to chalk this episode up as a bummer and leave it at that.

Quote

Every corner of the city (Vienna) holds memories of the war, especially for those who cannot forget. – Nimoy

Summing Up:

Depression: 8/10, Misery: 7/10, There's no justice: 8/10, Nimoyness: 8/10, Oh, God, why do I bother? 7/10. Overall: 38/50. Distinction.

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