Josef Mengele in 1956. Photo taken by a police photographer in Buenos Aires for Mengele's Argentine identification document.
The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics was founded in 1927 in Berlin, Germany. The Rockefeller Foundation supported both the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Psychiatry and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. The Rockefeller Foundation partially funded the actual building of the Institute and helped keep the Institute afloat during the Depression.
In its early years, and during the Nazi era, it was strongly associated with theories of Nazi eugenics and racial hygiene advocated by its leading theorists Fritz Lenz, (first director) Eugen Fischer, and by its second director Otmar von Verschuer. Under Fischer, the sterilisation of so-called Rhineland Bastards was undertaken. During World War II, the Institute regularly received human body parts, including eyes and skulls, from Nazi party member Karin Magnussen who studied eye colors, and Dr. Josef Mengele (at Auschwitz) to use in studies intended to prove Nazi racial theories and justify race-related social polices. After the German capitulation in May 1945, most of the thousands of files and lab material of the Institute were moved to an unknown location or destroyed and never obtained by the Allies to use as evidence in war crimes trials and to prove or dis-prove the Nazi racial ideology which had motivated mass genocide in Europe. Most of the staff of the Institute were able to escape trial.