Twin Town

In what sounds like the plot of a John Carpenter film, the Daily Telegraph reports that a village in Brazil might be populated by genetically altered twins created by notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.

[Image: The Brazilian twin town of Josef Mengele].

"For years scientists have failed to discover why as many as one in five pregnancies in a small Brazilian town have resulted in twins – most of them blond haired and blue eyed," we read. "But residents of Candido Godoi now claim that Mengele made repeated visits there in the early 1960s, posing at first as a vet but then offering medical treatment to the women of the town."
According to an historian named Jorge Camarasa who has written a book about Mengele's bio-genetic legacy, "Candido Godoi may have been Mengele's laboratory, where he finally managed to fulfil his dreams of creating a master race of blond haired, blue eyed Aryans. There is testimony that he attended women, followed their pregnancies, treated them with new types of drugs and preparations, that he talked of artificial insemination in human beings, and that he continued working with animals, proclaiming that he was capable of getting cows to produce male twins."
The article points out that "the town's official crest shows two identical profiles and a road sign welcomes visitors to a 'Farming Community and Land of the Twins'. There is also a museum, the House of the Twins."
"Nobody knows for sure exactly what date Mengele arrived in Candido Godoi," Camarasa adds, "but the first twins were born in 1963, the year in which we first hear reports of his presence."
This sounds insanely implausible to me – more like a Nazi-infused origin story animated by a pronounced fear of witchcraft – but it's a fascinatingly bizarre proposition.
In many ways, meanwhile, it reminds me quite strikingly of a book called The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs, which I just picked up last week. The back cover description:
    The village of Wolfheim is a quiet little place until the geneticist Dr. Victor Hoppe returns after an absence of nearly twenty years. The doctor brings with him his infant children – three identical boys all sharing a disturbing disfigurement. He keeps them hidden away until Charlotte, the woman who is hired to care for them, begins to suspect that the triplets – and the good doctor – aren’t quite what they seem. As the villagers become increasingly suspicious, the story of Dr. Hoppe’s past begins to unfold, and the shocking secrets that he has been keeping are revealed. A chilling story that explores the ethical limits of science and religion, The Angel Maker is a haunting tale in the tradition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein.
Only here, it's Dr. Mengele creating dark angels in the rain forest.

(Thanks, Steve!)

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Blogger bruno nery said...

Cândido Godói is actually far away from Amazon, as it's located on Rio Grande do Sul, on Brazil's extreme south. Source? I'm brazilian. :)

January 23, 2009 2:04 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Thanks, Bruno - fixed the reference!

January 23, 2009 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a very recent novella called The Economy of Light by Jack Dann which deals with almost exactly this subject matter; a survivor of Mengele's experiments under the Nazis has to investigate some weirdness involving the police discovering Mengele's body in the deep jungle. Creepy nasty shit ensues.

[Disclosure - I'm PS Publishing's PR guy, so delete if you feel this is inappropriate!}

January 23, 2009 2:58 PM  
Blogger l.turner said...

Ummm... guess you're too young to remember, but there was a famous 1978 film called The Boys From Brazil that was sort of in this vein, from a book by Ira Levin. See the Wikipedia entry... How do I know? I grew up in the town where Ira Levin lived, as did the child-star Jeremy Black who played the little cloned Hitlers...

January 23, 2009 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Boys from Brazil seemed like the more obvious reference to me too :P

January 23, 2009 6:03 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

I agree about The Boys from Brazil, but that film is also mentioned in the original article that I'm linking here - so it seemed kind of silly to repeat not only their suggestion of genetic tampering but even their cultural allusions.

But, yes, The Boys from Brazil not only precedes this historian's suggestions, but it could also very definitely have influenced his opinion on where these twins have come from.

January 23, 2009 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The book reference couldn't be more accurate actually as Mengele was called the "Angel of Death" during the war.

On the twin village, that kind of experiments would have a very high probability of failure especially from a man whose almost every "subjects" during war died, that's something you can't miss in a small town.

January 23, 2009 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the book from Stefan Brijs a couple of years ago, and reading your posts, it reminded me of the book to. Great book and great post!

January 24, 2009 5:14 AM  
Blogger Writer said...

Said in a very high pitch, creepy, sing-song kind of way...


January 24, 2009 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sehr, sehr gruselig!

January 24, 2009 2:53 PM  
Blogger PKMN [pac-man] said...

Great Blog! If you can see mine it's only in spanish... I`m sorry

January 25, 2009 7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wish the X-Files were still around so that they could an episode about this.

January 25, 2009 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question is did the "historian" & local author, Jorge Camarasa, read The Boys From Brazil? I think you're all quite gullible.

February 08, 2009 1:26 PM  

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