[Mengele] OHS pair takes historic research to next level

05/27/2014 10:30

by Pat McKnight 



Two Onalaska High School students researched and documented of the most notorious figures of World War II, and their work is taking them to the highest level of the National History Day contest.  


Ellie Socha and Brianna Cochlin's documentary about Nazi doctor Josef Mengele will be presented at the 2014 Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest, which takes place June 15-19 at the University of Maryland at College Park. Others have been done with their projects for about a month, said Cochlin, but we're still working on ours. Mengele's diary has been found, and we are trying to add that information to our documentary.


This is the third year the two OHS sophomores worked together on a NHD project. They chose Mengele as their research subject because they believed it fit this year's theme, Rights and Responsibilities.


His (Mengele's) experiments were illegal, said Cochlin. He knew the Jews rights were taken; The Nazis didn't consider Jews people. He knew the experiments and killing people weren't accepted.  Socha and Cochlin learned about Mengele a couple years before during a school lesson on the holocaust.


Mengele was a German medical officer during World War II. After being wounded in battle and no longer able to serve in combat, he was assigned as a concentration camp doctor.  As a physician at Auschwitz, he was instrumental in deciding which prisoners were sent to the gas chambers or used for his medical experiments.


The experiments he conducted on the prisoners included torture techniques and often resulted in death. After the war, he fled to South America, where he evaded capture for the rest of his life.  Although Mengele was not tried for his crimes, the world learned about them during testimony given at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.


Ethics is a big part of rights and responsibilities, said Socha. After the Nuremberg trials, a standard of ethics for doctors was set. The Hippocratic Oath was already there, but it was open to interpretation, especially for research  {And we're already seeing abuses in the now in the form of synthetic biology. - Ed}


At one point the girls were asked whether Mengele's experiments might have had some medical benefit. His research was destroyed, said Socha. It is hard to find specifics of what he did.


The young researchers discovered that after Mengele fled to South America, he continued his experiments on twins and his research to develop the genetics of the Aryan race. The Nazis claimed the Aryan race was superior to all others.


He stopped in Brazil and he gave women in a village medical treatments, said Cochlin. It has been found that there is an unusual number of twins in that village and half the people have Aryan-like qualities


To qualify for the national competition, the students' research had to be presented three times. The first was at the school level, then at regionals in La Crosse and next at the state level at Madison.


The NHD contest has five categories in which the students can enter their projects, either as individuals or teams. In addition to video documentaries, the categories include research papers, displays, websites and performances.


The students are the daughters of Jim and Tracey Socha and Paul and Lisa Cochlin. They will be accompanied to the national competition by their parents, and their itinerary will allow them time to tour the sites in Washington, D.C.



See 'Me and Mengele.' The main reason Mengele-the-physician researcher used natural monozygotic (identical) twins in his experimental medical research was that he could experiment on one of the twins, and use the other twin as an experimental control. Well, every good experiment needs a control! Of course, informed consent from his victims was never even considered. How much easier that is today using such twin human embryos artificially reproduced asexually in IVF and ART medical research laboratories and infertility clinics (or elsewhere). Couldn't one then implant the experimental and the control human embryos into different women (or the same woman) to observe any differences in development to obtain their reproducible data for their medical research studies? Just wondering. ... Also, contrary to the students' report below, a lot of Mengele's experimental data was known early on. The Mengele twin I wrote about in my biochemistry thesis I subsequently met, and those twins and other victims of these medical research experiments are walking/talking empirical documentaries of Mengele's medical experiments, and have long lists of such data.  The article first appeared here-- DNI]