Forensic Dentistry and the Identification of Dr. Josef Mengele

Perhaps the most notorious figure of the Nazi concentration camps during WWII was Dr. Josef Mengele. Accused of experimenting on young twins (one would serve as the control for his experiments), he experimented, mutilated, murdered and dissected countless victims in Auschwitz, almost all without anesthesia. He was also responsible for the selection process when the Jewish refugees unloaded on the train platform at Auschwitz upon their arrival from all over Europe. His wave of the arm could mean life or death in the selection process. He was also a member of the team of doctors responsible for supervising the administration of Zyklon B, the gas that was used to kill people in the gas chambers at Auschwitz- Birkenau. He was sadistic and unempathetic. He became one of the most sought after war criminals after he was able to escape to South America when WWII ended. He changed his name and residences frequently, but was tracked by Nazi hunters.  He was known to be buried under the name “Wolfgang Gerhard” by his host family, the Bosserts in Sao Paulo, after a drowning incident. With the aid of dental records, Mengele’s death  was finally corroborated in 1985 by the efforts of Stephen Daschi, US Consul in Brazil.

This part of the story is little known. Daschi discovered Mengele, then using the pseudonym Pedro Hochbichler,  had visited Dr. Hercy Gonzaga Gama Angelo in the suburb of Sao Paulo, Brazil for a root canal in 1978. Dr. Angelo provided Daschi with the name of the referring dentist, Dr. Kasumasa Tutiya, who provided dental radiographs (X-rays).  The body of Mengele had been found previously though extensive tracking, and was then corroborated with the eye witnesses to the man and his teeth by the dentist!

Anne Frank and her dentist Dr. Pfeffer

When Anne Frank moved into hiding in Amsterdam (Prinsengracht 263), other Jews later joined them hiding. One such person was the dentist, Fritz Pfeffer, who was given the pseudonym Mr. Dussel (Dussel in German means “nitwit”) by Anne Frank in her diary. Dr. Pfeffer had fled Germany in 1938 and moved to Amsterdam where he set up his dental practice, but with the invasion of Holland and the persecution of the Jews, found himself in need of hiding. One of his Fritz’s brothers (Hans) escaped to New Jersey, and one to South America, but the rest of his family perished. Otto Frank and Miep Gies helped hide Fritz along with the increasing number of people in the crowded  secret annex. Dr. Pfeffer arrived with his dental equipment, including the pedal driven SS White drill, and became the roommate of Anne Frank. Dr. Pfeffer purportedly had to do a root canal treatment on Anne’s front tooth. Without anesthesia, Anne was not endeared to the man or his profession.

Unfortunately, someone betrayed the hiding place to the authorties, and the Dr. Pfeffer along with the Anne and the rest of the people hiding in the annex were arrested and sent to concentration camps. After a stint in Auschwitz, Anne and her sister Margo ended up in Bergen-Belsen, only to die shortly before the camp’s liberation. Dr. Fritz ultimately died in Neuengamme concentration camp from illness on December 20th, 1944.

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Happy Holidays

A donation has been made in the name of my patients to the Wounded Warrior Project. With so many wounded veterans in desperate need of services, I choose to donate to this worthy cause, and hope our veterans  will benefit from a better Holiday Season.

Dr. Schonberg re-elected as President of the Essex County Dental Society

On Wednesday night, October 7,2015, Dr. Schonberg was one of several people honored by the New Jersey Dental Association. Installed as the re-elected president of the Essex County, he was presented with a plaque by the current NJDA president, Essex County’s own  Dr. Greg LaMorte. Also present was,  Giorgio DiVincenzo, President-elect of the NJDA and the Executive Director, Art Meisel, Esq.

The Kiss

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The world famous photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt took this picture of a soldier kissing a nurse on V-Day, August 14th, 1945. The soldier, believed to be George Mendonca of Newport, Rhode Island, was in Times Square celebrating. He happened to kiss a nurse which was capture by Eisenstaedt. As it turns out, the nurse is believed to be Greta Friedman, a dental assistant. Back in 1945 and for some time after, dental assistants customarily wore white and looked like medical nurses!

 

Dr. Schonberg’s Photograph Exhibit

REDCARDINALRESIZEDBeginning August 3rd (2015) and running for the month, Dr. Schonberg will present an assortment of photographs in an exhibit at the Millburn Public Library in Millburn, New Jersey. The images are an mixture High Dynamic Range (HDR) images and conventional photographs. The HDR images increase the range of light used and render more intensity to the images. The photographs were taken in a variety of places, including London, Berlin, Munich, Barcelona,  and Paris, as well as Gettysburg, Boston, and West Orange.They are a range of subjects, from scenic to abstract. Many are linked to an association with Word War II history, as the images were shot during some of the many WWII tours Dr. Schonberg has been on.  I hope you come and sign the guest book. Images are for sale, though Library rules prevent pricing and selling works at the Library. Contact Dr. Schonberg at the office (873-379-2730) for inquiries.

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Blast Text Message Confusion

We sent out a text blast to all our patient requesting cancellations and reappointments be handled by phone calls to the office, instead of text messaging or email. The problem was, our email is sometimes delayed to the point where important messages have bee missed. We apologize for the confusion the blast caused, and should have worded it as “If you EVER have to change your appointment, please call the office. PLEASE do not text or email. Thanks.”

Well, there you have it. We will try to limit text blasts as we all have been overloaded with messages.

American Gothic

Having had dinner at One if By Land on Barrow Street in New York was a visual as well as gustatory treat. The ambience was magnificent. Over the bar was a copy of the Grant Wood painting, “The Ride of Paul Revere.” It reminded me of the more famous Grant Wood Painting, “American Gothic,” you know the one of the man in overalls with pitchfork and his dour wife by his side. What most dentists may recall, and what most of the public seems unaware, is that the models for Woods painting were Wood’s dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby (1867–1950)  from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and  the artist’s sister, Nan.Man and woman with stern expession stand side-by-side. The man holds a pitch fork.

Joint Noises: cracking knuckles and more

NPR reported the age old noise of knuckle cracking does not  cause arthritis, and may actually be good for the joint. According to Dr. Kevin deWeber of Vancouver, Canada,  the arthritis urban myth is a misconception perpetuated by “by mothers who are sick of hearing their kids crack their knuckles.” Dr. Greg Kawchuk, professor of Rehabilitative Medicine at the University of Alberta performed a MRI study discerning the culprit behind the noise:gas bubbles which get collapsed upon the knuckle cracking.

So what about other joints? Many dental patients complain of jaw joint noises. The implication of Dr. Kawchuck’s study is that the noise is harmless and moving the jaw around to create the pop may actually help. This still has to be verified by dental research. Pain, on the other hand, is a complicating factor which would need to be investigated by your doctor. Popping the joint may be harmful in those cases. Stick with the knuckles!

New Use from Dental Stem Cells

Stem cells hold promise to regenerate many different body tissues. Until recently, stem cells were difficult to procure. Several years ago it was discovered stem cells are present in many  body tissues, particularly the teeth. Extracted teeth can have stem cells harvested and banked so that in the future, if needed, the cells are there for you. The ADA announced in the march 2, 2015 News that research at the University of Pittsburgh have   been able to coax dental stem cells into corneal (eye) tissue, and could one day be used to repair corneal injuries. Presently, Store-A-Tooth offers the ability to save your stem cells from extracted teeth. Your future could depend up on it! For more information call us at 973-379-2730.