“Nazi Twins” a Myth: Mengele Not Behind Brazil Boom?
for National Geographic News
November 25, 2009
Did Nazi doctor Josef Mengele carry on his sadistic science decades after World War II?
Recent reports have held up a remote Brazilian town—filled with blonde, blue-eyed twins—as evidence of Mengele’s postwar attempts to add to the ranks of an Aryan “master race.”
But research announced today says Cândido Godói’s “Nazi twins” are nothing more than a myth.
The outback town of about 7,000 has a twin rate nearly 1,000 percent higher than the global average.
The twins’ fair features are no mystery—Cândido Godói (map) is largely populated by the descendents of German immigrants. But the frequency of twin births is a decades-old mystery.
Earlier this year Argentine historian Jorge Camarasa offered a bombshell of an explanation in his book Mengele: The Angel of Death in South America.
In World War II, Mengele, aka the Angel of Death, was mainly interested in twin research while serving as chief doctor at the Birkenau extermination camp in Poland.
According to Camarasa, Mengele likely continued his twin experiments in the 1960s while on the run in South America.
Mengele disguised himself as a roaming physician and veterinarian and gave pregnantwomen in Cândido Godói an ahead-of-its-time, twin-inducing mix of drugs or hormones, the historian suggests.
Video: The Twins of Cândido Godói
Camarasa cites interviews with locals who say they remember the visits of a traveling German doctor who provided mysterious potions or drugs.
The locals recalled him by different names, Camarasa explained. But each interviewee had the same reaction when shown a picture of Mengele: “That’s him.”
Mengele was in fact in Brazil during much of his South American exile, which began in 1949 and ended in 1979, when he died of a stroke while living under an assumed name.
During the war, Mengele and colleagues had used Jewish prisoners in often deadly fertility experiments. The ultimate aim: to provide more Aryans to populate Hitler’s “Thousand Year Reich.”
(Related: “‘Hitler’s Stealth Fighter’ Re-created.”)
Twin Boom Predates Nazi’s Exile
The twins of Cândido Godói—most of them fraternal, or nonidentical—are eager to shake their supposed Nazi connection.
“Because of these rumors that Mengele was there, the population gets very upset about it,” said geneticist Lavinia Schuler-Faccini of Brazil’s Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul. “So some leaders of the community asked the university to start a project to try and understand why this place has such a high incidence of twin births.”
The resulting research, led by Schuler-Faccini and backed by the Brazilian government, is featured in a new documentary: Explorer: Nazi Mystery—Twins From Brazil, which airs Sunday, November 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News and part-owns the National Geographic Channel.)
Video: The Researchers at Work
For the initial phase of their study—which has not yet been published or reviewed by outside scientists—the team combed through baptismal records, which the researchers say should cover about 75 percent of the children born in predominantly Catholic Cândido Godói. The records would reveal where and when the town’s many twin births had occurred.
The town’s baptismal records date back to 1927, long before Mengele’s supposed arrival—and so does the exceptional rate of twinning, the team discovered.
Furthermore, the records show no “surge” in twinning in the 1960s, when Mengele is said to have experimented on the local populace, the study says.
Also, the high rate of twin births continues today, which rules out a role for Mengele, the researchers say.
Had Mengele injected mothers with something to alter their pregnancies, the twin rate should have dropped off when his supposed work stopped.
“Even if Mengele had ovulation induction drugs available, they would have had an effect only on the immediate recipients for one generation,” said Gary Steinman, a twinning expert at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
“It was not even known to anyone what the genetic code was at that time, let alone the ability to alter genes, which would have been necessary to carry over the twinning trait to future generations.”
Steinman was not part of the Brazilian team’s initial research, but he’s now helping them search for genetic clues to the phenomenon.
If Not Mengele, Who?
One clue in the baptismal records may hold the real key to Cândido Godói’s twins.
The greatest incidence of twinning, by far, is in the Linha São Pedro district, some 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the town center, the researchers found.
The neighborhood was settled in the early 20th century by just eight families. Today Linha São Pedro’s 80 households are home to 44 pairs of twins.
The community’s isolation and small size suggests an evolutionary origin for Linha São Pedro’s outsize twin population. If a small group settles a region and the settlement remains isolated for generations, the original settlers’ biological quirks tend to be passed down as the same families intermarry over and over—scientists call it the founder effect.
“By chance, one or two members of these families that started Linha São Pedro could have a genetic of predisposition to have twin births,” Schuler-Faccini speculated.
Scientists aren’t sure exactly which gene or genes are responsible for human twinning, but twin hot spots like Cândido Godói give researchers a chance to search for repeated clues in twin DNA.
Steinman, of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, suspects a role for a growth hormone-produced protein called IGF, which he’s previously linked to twinning in both cows and humans. He hopes to discover whether Cândido Godói twins have high levels of IGF and, if so, whether there’s a gene mutation responsible for high concentrations of the supposed twin-producing hormone.
Whatever the causes, the town’s profusion of fraternal twins isn’t even especially rare, said twinning expert Bruno Reversade, of the Institute of Medical Biology in Singapore, who is not involved in the Cândido Godói research.
“There are in Nigeria and Romania isolated villages like this one, but they have not gotten [or] sought publicity,” said Reversade, who called the Mengele hypothesis “preposterous.”
“I concur with the authors’ conclusions that it may be a founder effect,” he added.
Twins Spurred by Something in the Air?
Another theory suggests that environmental factors may be at least partly responsible for Cândido Godói’s profusion of twins.
Locals have long suspected that something—perhaps a pesticide—in the town’s water, food, or air may be boosting the twin birth rate, according to the Nazi Mystery documentary.
“We know that twinning can be related to environmental conditions,” study leader Schuler-Faccini told National Geographic News. “For example, some studies suggest that women who [consume] more milk and dairy products are more predisposed to have twins.”
One explanation doesn’t preclude the other, she said. Cândido Godói’s twins may be born of some combination of genetics and environmental factors.
But Camarasa, the historian, still believes Mengele may have played some role.
“There is still no convincing scientific explanation of the phenomenon,” he said. “There are only hypotheses, and mine is one of them.
“I think that Mengele’s life in exile still holds many secrets.”
Cândido Godói,, a small town in Brazil, has long astonished the world with its very abnormally high level of birth rates for twins. The rate is nearly a thousand percent higher than the global average: “the 80 households in a one-square-mile area have reportedly some 38 pairs of twins. Blond, blue-eyed twins.”
National Geographic Explorer is digging into this mystery and they have come up with a pretty out there, and horrifying, theory. They investigate claims that mad Nazi scientist Joseph Mengele, who escaped to Brazil, continued his research into using twins as a way to build a perfect Aryan master race. One historian thinks Mengele succeeded, and this town is the proof.
Nazi Mystery: Twins from Brazil [National Geographic]
“Joseph Mengele, the escaped Nazi war criminal and SS physician, known as the Angel of Death, spent years doing bizarre medical experiments on twins at Auschwitz working to determine if twins held the key to building a blond-haired, blue-eyed master race for Adolf Hitler. Now a historian says he has evidence that Mengele’s attempts may not have ended at Auschwitz, and that his obsession to engineer an Aryan master race continued, and that succeeded while he was on the run in South America. Deep in the Brazilian outback in a tiny town among the 80 households in a one-square-mile area are reportedly some 38 pairs of twins. Blond, blue-eyed twins. Bizarre and inexplicable, could they be the product of Mengele’s machinations? Now, with exclusiveaccess, EXPLORER goes inside the investigation; From the secret agents who trailed him, to the scientists now uncovering the facts behind the fantastical phenomenon, no stone is left unturned.”
Cândido Godói é um município brasileiro do estado do Rio Grande do Sul. A cidade é conhecida como a capital brasileira dos gêmeos univitelinos, pois são registrados pouco mais de 100 pares de gêmeos idênticos em toda a população, proporção considerada notável. O fato intrigante é que dada a incidência geral de gêmeos, que é de 1% da população, Candido Godói sai do padrão com uma incidência de 10%, ou seja, a cada 10 nascimentos, 1 será de gêmeos.
O município, de aproximadamente 6,6 mil habitantes, tem o surpreendente índice de 10% de nascimento de gêmeos, contra o 1% registrado no resto do Brasil.
Foi desvendado mistério que cerca a cidade Cândido Godói no Rio Grande do Sul, mais conhecida como “A cidade dos gêmeos”. Um estudo feito pelo núcleo de genética da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) chegou a resposta do Fenômeno. A pesquisa foi divulgada jornal americano New York Times.
A terra dos Gêmeos começou a chamar atenção do mundo em 2008, após um jornalista argentino atribuir o “baby boom” de gêmeos a experiências realizadas em 1960 por Josef Mengele, um ciêncista nazista, que esteve na cidade naquela época. Após essa afirmação o mundo começou a busca pela razão de nascerem tantos gêmeos na localidade. Muitos moradores atribuiram o fato a substância presente na água da cidade.
A pesquisa encabeçada pela pesquisadora Úrsula Matte começou em 2009 com a análise de certidões de nascimento de 80 anos atrás. Com isso foi constatado que o fenômeno já exista antes da passagem de Mengele pelo sul do Brasil. Estudos na água da cidade provaram que nenhuma substância atípica estava presente.
A resposta do mistério foi encontrada após a análise do DNA de 30 famílias. Ficou provado que existe um gene específico entre a população de Cândido Godói que aparece mais frequentemente em mães de famílias com gêmeos.
De acordo com a pesquisa, que foi publicada no jornal americano, o fato também se dá pelo alto nível de relações consanguínea entre a população, assim conservando o gene específico que aumenta as chances de nasceram gêmeos. Os cientistas acreditam que um pequeno número de famílias de imigrantes que vivem em São Pedro pode ter trazido o gene variante para a região.
A pesquisadora ainda relatou que os genes em gêmeos de todo mundo não são iguais. “Se analisarmos gêmeos da Nova Zelândia, o resultado provavelmente será diferente.”, disse Úrsula ao New York Times.
Um fato curioso é que houve dificuldade dos pesquisadores em achar famílias da cidade que não registraram filhos gêmeos em sua história para comparar com outras que tiveram. “Com uma pequena população de cerca de 80 famílias, foi um desafio encontrar mulheres que não tiveram gêmeos dentro de uma relação de primeiro grau”, disse a pesquisadora.
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Have you ever seen so many twin brothers and sisters in a one certain area alone? Wouldn’t that occurrence excite questions, amazement and curiosity? It does! It raises all those things. to mind for iIn the towns Candido Godoi in Brazil and Kodinhi in India, twin births have occurred so many times as comparedmore than anywhere else, and the surprising thing about it is that myth and suspicion surround this phenomenon.
The Mystery Surrounding Twin Births in Candido Godoi
Could it be that the twins in Candido Godoi are a product of Nazi experimentation? Or is a magical water source the reason for this phenomenon? In that this small town of German immigrants, 38 sets of twins have already been born out offrom 80 families, and it’s amazing that in some of them, twin births have already happened five times. Urban legend has it that a wanted Nazi doctor, who was responsible for 400,000 deaths during the 2nd world war, came to Brazil and experimented with women. His name was Josef Mengele, more notoriously known as the Angel of Death. He was fascinated with twins and wanted to please Hitler by increasing the Aryan race, . coincidentallyCoincidentally, almost all of the twins in Candido Godoi are blue eyed and blond —– characteristics he most wanted to create. Could Mengele have been successful in his mad experiments of creating the superior race? Could he have done something to the German women that increased their chances of bearing twin Aryan children?
Hidden Unknown to the knowledge of theGerman immigrants, Mengele was living with them, posing as a dentist, veterinarian and physician. He used the name Rudolf Weiss and was doing making medical service calls from house to house, but reports say he purposely collected samples from women and most probably continued his experiments.
In Auschwitz, he was a notorious killer being who was responsible for many deaths due tocaused by medical experimentations. He tried changing eye colors by introducing putting chemicals in the eyes as well as using shock treatment. When the war ended, he travelled traveled around to avoid being caught, and every time, he maintained different names, and kept his identity hidden. He died in 1979, not being able to paynever having paidfor his crimes.
Another speculation about the big unusual number of twins among the German settlers is that a potable water source contained unknown minerals that somehow affected women’s ovulation and contributed to producing twins. Most people who drank water from that source produced twins, but up until now the spring has not been thoroughly tested and studied. The twin phenomenon in Candido Godoi has now attractsed many journalists from all over the world now. They have dubbed the place the “Twins Capital of the World,” for no other place has matched their its percentage and rate of twin births.
Science cannot fully explain why twin birth rates in Candido Godoi are high but researchers have recently contested the suspicion that Josef Mengele had anything to with it. Dr. Ursula Matte, a geneticist in Porto Alegre, Brazil presents data that counters the myths about Mengele producing Aryan twins for the people.
Josef Mengele experimented on women
1. Mengele was obsessed with producing twins and made countless experiments among humans, mostly Jews. He already had studies and experience manipulating human genes.
2. His arrival in Candido Godoi marked an increase of in twin births. He associated with women especially pregnant ones and this was reported by the German villagers themselves.
3. Most twins possessed Aryan features (blue eyes, light colored skin, blond hair) which were Mengele’s obsession.
Dr. Ursula Matte’s explanation
1. Mengele could not have succeeded in his experimentations experiments, for the technology was not available during that time. Even if the Nazi doctor devoted his remaining time on to figuring out how, he just did not have the facilities, instruments and or machines needed.
2. Though there was an increase of in twin births upon his arrival, birth certificates of from Candido Godoi residents already showed there were twin births being experienced 30 yrs before he came to Brazil, and the rate was rising yearly. Though he Mengele associated with pregnant women, he just did not have the technology. People exaggerate on their stories in order to hype books and make them sell.
3. There are more twins born in Candido Godoi for because settlers practiced inbreeding. Marriage between family members who already have a history of producing twins doubles their chances of giving birth to twins once moreagain. It will was only be natural for the family members to manifest Aryan characteristics, for their circle was only limited among to themselves.
Dr. Matte is supposed expected to finish her research and reveal more scientific findings in the future.
Multiple Twin Births in Kodinhi, India
CoIincidentally, in Kodinhi, India, multiple sets of twin births have also been reported. 250 pairs of twins have been born to a population of 2,000 families and reports indicate its this rate is rising every year. Without any access to fertility pills, IVF and or any artificial insemination, Kodinhi’s twin births are speculated to have resulted from what they its people eat and drink. But a more common factor cause that can be identified withis similar to the village in Germany Brazil is that people in Kodinhi also practice intermarriage between family members. Medical Science has holds that genetic isolation is the more most likely cause of multiple twin births in this instance.
According to science, people who are twins themselves have greater chances of producing twins. This along with maternal age, fertility drugs and treatments and nutrition adds to the chances of having twins as offspring. Marriages between people who have twins in their ancestry have greater odds of producing twins as children, or grandchildren, or great grand children who are also twins.
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
UPDATED: 15:38 GMT, 25 March 2011
To his Brazilian patients ‘Rudolf Weiss’, a grey-haired and bewhiskered man in his 50s, was seen as very model of a kindly and urbane doctor.
But to the inmates of Auschwitz, Josef Mengele – his real name – was known as the Angel of Death, responsible for up to 400,000 deaths in sickening medical experiments.
Years later, after he had left Candido Godoi, residents of the small farming community also learned the terrifying truth that the Nazi ‘todesengel’ had lived in their midst.
Then came the strange boom in the area’s twin numbers. That Mengele had a particular fascination with the town’s pregnant women couldn’t be coincidence, could it?
For years this speculation – and others, such as whether it was something mysterious in the water –were considered possibilities.
Now, however, scientists say they have found the truth.
Ursula Matte, a geneticist in Porto Alegre, Brazil, said a series of DNA tests conducted on about 30 families since 2009 found that a specific gene appears those mothers in Candido Godoi who have borne twins.
The phenomenon is compounded by a high level of inbreeding among the population, which is composed almost entirely of German-speaking immigrants, she said.
‘We analyzed six genes and found one gene that confirms, in this population, a predisposition to the birth of twins,’ Dr Matte told the New York Times.
It was her initial study in the 1990s that set the stage for the rampant speculation about the town’s odd birth pattens.
She was the first scientist to document, in a study published in the 1990s, that the rate of twin births in the town was unusually high.
The rate of twins was especially high in São Pedro, a village of about 350 residents that is part of Cândido Godói.
Dr Matte found that from 1990 to 1994, 10 percent of the births in São Pedro were twins, compared with less than 1 percent for Brazil as a whole.
Soon lots of theories began to appear and none were more interesting than that possibility that Mengele was somehow involved.
Josef Mengele was an SS physician in Auschwitz concentration camp.
There he carried out sickening medical experiments that caused the death of up to 400,000 mainly Jewish inmates.
Mengele’s experiments included attempts to changeeye colour by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes, performing sterilisation and shock treatments.
But he was particularly fascinated by twins.
As part a bid to create a master race for Adolf Hitler he carried out genetic experiments to find the key to producing twins.
The aim was to artificially increase the Aryan birthrate.
In 1945 he fled the advancing Red Army and made his way to South America.
It is there that the medic, who is believed to have been responsible for up to 400,000 deaths in medical experiments at Auschwitz, may have succeeded in his mission.
Baffled scientists had been struggling to come up with a reason for the high proportion twins in the tiny Brazilian comunity of Candido Godoi – most of them blonde-haired and blue-eyed.
It was thought that Mengele’s fascination with pregnant women there may have been to blame.
He was never captured.
The German doctor, who evaded capture his entire life, had moved around southern Brazil in the 1960s at about the time the births were thought to have really taken off.
An Argentine journalist suggested in a 2008 book that Mengele conducted experiments on women in Cândido Godói that resulted in a baby boom of twins, many of whom have blonde hair and blue eyes.
Mengele, who died in Brazil in 1979, was notorious for his often-deadly experiments on twins at Auschwitz in a bid to produce a master Aryan race for Adolf Hitler
But the study led by Dr Matte analysed 6,615 baptism certificates dating back 80 years in the predominantly Roman Catholic town and found that the twins phenomenon existed in the 1930s, ‘long before Mengele’s period’.
She said: ‘In the initial stages of our research we immediately disproved any involvement with Mengele.’
Her team of 20 researchers also tested the town’s water supply and uncovered no abnormalities.
While studying the baptism certificates, they found a high rate of inbreeding as there were few women that did not have twins within a first-degree relation.
The scientists believe that a small number of immigrant families living in São Pedro may have brought the variant gene to the region.
‘This does not mean that it is a universal gene,’ Dr Matte added. ‘If I take twins from New Zealand and test them, it will probably generate a different result.’
She is set to present the results of her study in Cândido Godói today.