Novel on Nazi doctor Mengele in running for top French book prize

Novel on Nazi doctor Mengele in running for top French book prize

‘The Disappearance of Josef Mengele’ tells the story of the life of the ‘Angel of Death’ after his Auschwitz experiments on Jewish prisoners

Nazi doctor Josef Mengele (Wikimedia Commons)
Nazi doctor Josef Mengele (Wikimedia Commons)

PARIS — A novel about the secret post-Holocaust life of the Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele was shortlisted Wednesday for France’s top literary award, the Prix Goncourt.

“The Disappearance of Josef Mengele” by journalist Olivier Guez is one of eight books in the running for the prize.

It tells of how the SS doctor, notorious as the “Angel of Death” at the Auschwitz concentration camp for his often lethal experiments on inmates, managed to evade arrest and even get a West German passport in his own name in the 1950s while living in Argentina.

He used the passport to return to holiday in Europe and even visit his home town, Gunzburg.

Despite later efforts by the German authorities and Mossad, the Israeli secret service, Mengele remained free until his death at 67 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1979.

Notorious Nazi physician Josef Mengele as a young doctor and the ‘ramp’ at Auschwitz-Birkenau in May of 1944, where Mengele sometimes selected inmates for life, death or ‘experimentation’ (Public domain)

Also among the favorites for the prize is Alice Zeniter’s “The Art of Losing,” a powerful account of an Algerian “harki” family who sided with the French during the bloody nine-year Algerian war of independence that ended in 1962.

Zeniter, 31, has already won three major prizes for the novel including the annual literature award from French daily Le Monde.

The winner of the Goncourt will be announced on November 6.

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