Holocaust survivors voiced objections and doubts following reports that the diary of Dr. Josef Mengele, the "Angel of Death from Auschwitz," may his name be blotted out, was sold at auction to a US Jew who is the grandson of Holocaust survivors.
Bill Panagopulos, head of Alexander Autographs auction house in Connecticut who acted as the agent of the purchaser, said the anonymous East Coast philanthropist who bought the journal plans to donate it to Holocaust museum and that he purchased it to ensure it did not fall into the hands of neo-Nazi extremists.
Elan Steinberg, who represents the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, challenged the authenticity of the diary.
Other Jewish organizations were also disturbed by the purchase. Though the purchase price was not disclosed, the starting price, along with a letter Mengele sent from Auschwitz to his family, was $60,000. According to Panagopulos, the diary began in 1960 in South America, where Mengele sought refuge after the war.
Panagopulos said he regretted "that a few organizations would prefer that such material remain hidden and ignored — not all history is necessarily `good.' I'm overjoyed that the text is going where it belongs — into the hands of scholars and historians."
He said the buyer recounted that his 86-year-old grandmother, a Jewish Hungarian, clearly recalled encountering Mengele at Auschwitz, especially his crisp uniform and the white gloves he wore as he made the rounds of the camp.
The Auschwitz Museum has made contact with the anonymous purchaser in an effort to acquire the diary for its onsite archive.
Mengele, who fled to South America after the war, drowned on a Brazilian beach in 1979. His journal, which appears to have been kept secret, was written in a 180-page standard child's notebook. It was found years later by Brazilian police and handed over to relatives. "A person close to the family,' believed to be Mengele's son, gave or sold it to another individual in the US, who recently sold it to the auction house.