STRANGER THAN FICTION: ‘The Land Of Twins’

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NEW YORK TIMES: CÂNDIDO GODÓI, Brazil — A sign at the entrance to Cândido Godói says, “Garden City and Land of Twins.” More than 80 percent of its 6,700 residents are of German descent. They began arriving around World War I, lured by the prospect of cheap land, an agreeable farming climate and incentives from the Brazilian government to colonize the area.The twins phenomenon is centered in the 300-person settlement of São Pedro, the part of Cândido Godói where the Grimms live. “It can’t all be explained by genetics,” said Mr. Grimm, himself a twin. Geneticists would like to disagree with him, but even they have no solid explanation for the 38 pairs of twins among about 80 families living in a one-and-a-half-square-mile area. The mystery has persisted for decades, attracting international attention and inspiring books and investigations by geneticists. It is one reason locals are in no hurry to try to prove their water theory. They are too busy posing for journalists and marketing their town to tourists as the “twins capital of the world.”

Some researchers have suggested the darker possibility that Josef Mengele, the Nazi physician known as the Angel of Death, was involved. Mengele, residents say, roamed this region of southern Brazil, posing as a veterinarian, in arbus_twins_1.jpgthe 1960s, about the time the twins explosion began. In a book published last year, an Argentine journalist, Jorge Camarasa, suggested that Mengele conducted experiments with women here that resulted in the higher rate of twins, many of them with blond hair and light-colored eyes. The experiments, locals said, may have involved new types of drugs and preparations, or even the artificial insemination Mengele claimed to know about, regarding cows and humans. But neither Mr. Camarasa nor any other adherent of the Mengele theory has been able to prove the escaped Nazi conducted any experiments here. Mengele, who died in Brazil in 1979, was notorious for his often deadly experiments on twins at Auschwitz, ostensibly in an effort to produce a master Aryan race for Hitler. […]

A decade ago, Anencir Flores da Silva, a town doctor and former mayor of Cândido Godói, set out to solve it, and he has since interviewed more than 100 people. He said he believed that people were holding back information about Mengele. “In a region full of Nazis, there are some that remain silent, who are scared,” Dr. da Silva said. “It is important that we discover the truth.” A book he helped write about the twins, published in 2007, tells of several visits Mengele made to the region, using false names. “I am convinced that Mengele was in the region and was observing the twins phenomenon,” Dr. da Silva said. He said a man identifying himself as Rudolf Weiss attended women with varicose veins and sometimes performed dental work. And some residents told him a German man was driving from home to home in a mobile laboratory, collecting samples and ministering to women. MORE

mengele_flip.jpgWIKIPEDIA: Josef Mengele (16 March 1911 – 7 February 1979) was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He gained notoriety for being one of the SS physicians who supervised the selection of arriving transports of prisoners, determining who was to be killed and who was to become a forced laborer, and for performing human experiments on camp inmates, amongst whom Mengele was known as the Angel of Death. Before going to Auschwitz, he received an award in Germany in 1935 for his research on racial differences in the lower jaw and was named a distinguished raceologist, contributing to the picture of Hitler’s Aryan Race. After the war, he became one of the most hunted of Nazi war criminals.

Mengele used Auschwitz as an opportunity to continue his research on heredity, using inmates for human experimentation. He was particularly interested in identical twins; they would be selected and placed in special barracks. At Auschwitz, Mengele did a number of twin studies. After the experiment was over, these twins were usually murdered and their bodies dissected. He supervised an operation by which two Gypsy children were sewn together to create conjoined twins; the hands of the children became badly infected where the veins had been resected, this also caused gangrene. [1]The book Children of the Flames, by Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Shiela Cohn Dekel, chronicles Mengele’s medical experimental activities on approximately 3,000 twins who passed through the Auschwitz death camp during World War II until its liberation at the end of the war. Only a few of the twins survived; 60 years later, they came forward about the special privileges they were given in Auschwitz owing to Mengele’s interest in twins, and how as a result they have suffered, as the children who survived his medical experiments and injections.[1] MORE

WIKIPEDIA: Diane Arbus (March 14, 1923July 26, 1971) was an American photographer, noted for her arbus_twins.thumbnail.jpgportraits of people on the fringes of society, such as transvestites, dwarfs, giants, prostitutes and ordinary working class citizens, in unconventional poses and settings.  Arbus’ voyeuristic approach has been criticized as demeaning to her subjects, [3] based around a major London retrospective of her works. Admirers of Arbus’ work, such as filmmaker Todd Solondz, were also interviewed by the BBC and defended her work. In an effort to dispel this image, Diane Arbus undertook a study of “conventional” people, including Gloria Vanderbilt‘s infant son, future CNN anchorman Anderson Cooper, for Harper’s Bazaar.[4] MORE

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