Due to the unfortunate circumstances for Dr. Rene Arace which led her to withdraw as President of the Essex County Dental Society, Dr. Richard C. Schonberg will act as President for the third consecutive year. His “reign” will end in 2017!
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!
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.