The Nazi Human Expermentation


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Nazi human experimentation was a series of controversial medical experiments on large numbers of prisoners by the German Nazi regime in its concentration camps during World War II. Prisoners were coerced into participating: they did not willingly volunteer and there was never informed consent. Typically, the experiments resulted in death, disfigurement or permanent disability

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The Nazi Human Expermentation

  1. 1. The Nazi Human Experimentation over 1,500 sets of imprisoned twins, of which fewer than 200Nazi human experimentation was a series of controversial individuals survived the studies.medical experiments on large numbers of prisoners by the Whilst attending University ofGerman Nazi regime in its concentration camps during World Munich (located in the city that remained one of Adolf Hitler’sWar II. Prisoners were coerced into participating: they did not focal points during thewillingly volunteer and there was never informed consent. revolution) studying philosophyTypically, the experiments resulted in death, disfigurement or and medicine with an emphasispermanent disability on anthropology and paleontology, Mengele got swept up in the Nazi hysteria and even said that “this simple political concept finally became the decisive factor At Auschwitz and other camps, under the in my life”. Mengele’s newfound direction of Dr. Eduard Wirths, selected admiration for the “simple political inmates were subjected to various concept” led him to mix his studies of experiments which were supposedly medicine and politics as his career choice. designed to help German military personnel in combat situations, develop Mengele received his PhD for a thesis new weapons, aid in the recovery of entitled “Racial Morphological Research military personnel that had been injured, on the Lower Jaw Section of Four Racial and to advance the racial ideology backed Groups”, which suggested that a person’s by the Third Reich. After the war, these race could be identified by the shape of the crimes were tried at what became known jaw. The Nazi organization saw his studies as the Doctors’ Trial, and revulsion at the as talents, and Mengele was asked to be abuses perpetrated led to the development the leading physician and researcher at of the Nuremberg Code of medical ethics. Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland in May 1943. There, Mengele organized According to the indictment at the genetic experiments on twins. The twins Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, these were arranged by age and sex and kept in experiments included the following: barracks between experiments, which ranged from injection of different Experiments on twins chemicals into the eyes of twins to see whether it would change their colors to literally sewing twins together to try creating conjoined twins. Freezing experiments Experiments on twin children in concentration camps were created to show the similarities and differences in the genetics and eugenics of A cold water twins, as well as to see if the human body immersion experiment at Dachau can be unnaturally manipulated. The concentration camp presided over by central leader of the experiments was Josef Professor Ernst Holzlohner (left) and Dr. Mengele, who performed experiments on
  2. 2. Sigmund Rascher (right). The subject is Malaria experimentswearing a Luftwaffe garment.In 1941, the Luftwaffe conductedexperiments to learn how to treathypothermia. One study forced subjects toendure a tank of ice water for up to threehours. Another study placed prisonersnaked in the open for several hours with From abouttemperatures below freezing. The February 1942 to about April 1945,experimenters assessed different ways of experiments were conducted at the Dachaurewarming survivors. concentration camp in order to investigate immunization for treatment of malaria.The freezing/hypothermia experiments Healthy inmates were infected bywere conducted for the Nazi high mosquitoes or by injections of extracts ofcommand. The experiments were the mucous glands of female mosquitoes.conducted on men to simulate the After contracting the disease, the subjectsconditions the armies suffered on the were treated with various drugs to testEastern Front, as the German forces were their relative efficiency. Over 1,000 peopleill prepared for the bitter cold. were used in these experiments, and of those, more than half died as a result.The experiments were conducted under thesupervision of Dachau and Auschwitz. Mustard gas experimentsRascher reported directly to HeinrichHimmler, and publicised the results of hisfreezing experiments at the 1942 medicalconference entitled “Medical ProblemsArising from Sea and Winter”.The freezing experiments were in twoparts. First, to establish how long it wouldtake to lower the body temperature to At various timesdeath, and second how to best resuscitate between September 1939 and April 1945,the frozen victim. experiments were conducted at Sachsenhausen, Natzweiler, and otherThe icy vat method proved to be the fastest camps to investigate the most effectiveway to drop the body temperature. The treatment of wounds caused by mustardselections were made of young healthy gas. Test subjects were deliberatelyJews or Russians. They were usually exposed to mustard gas and otherstripped naked and prepared for the vesicants, which inflicted severe chemicalexperiment. An insulated probe which burns. The victims’ wounds were thenmeasured the drop in the body temperature tested to find the most effective treatmentwas inserted into the rectum. The probe for the mustard gas burns.was held in place by an expandable metalring which was adjusted to open inside the Sulfonamide experimentsrectum to hold the probe firmly in place.The victim was put into an air force From about July 1942 to about Septemberuniform, then placed in the vat of cold 1943, experiments to investigate thewater and started to freeze. effectiveness of sulfonamide, a synthetic antimicrobial agent, were conducted at
  3. 3. Ravensbrück. Wounds inflicted on the of people with a minimum of time andsubjects were infected with bacteria such effort. These experiments were conductedas Streptococcus, gas gangrene and by means of X-ray, surgery and various drugs. Thousands of victims were sterilized. Aside from its experimentation, the Nazi government sterilized around 400,000 individuals as part of its compulsory sterilization program. Intravenous injections of solutions speculated to contain iodine and silvertetanus. nitrate were successful,Circulation of blood was interrupted bytying off blood vessels at both ends of thewound to create a condition similar to thatof a battlefield wound. Infection wasaggravated by forcing wood shavings andground glass into the wounds. Theinfection was treated with sulfonamide andother drugs to determine theireffectiveness. but had unwanted side effects such as vaginal bleeding,Sea water experiments severe abdominal pain, and cervical cancer. Therefore, radiation treatment became the favored choice of sterilization. Specific amounts of exposure to radiation destroyed a person’s ability to produce ova or sperm. The radiation was administered through deception. Prisoners were brought From about into a room and asked to complete forms,July 1944 to about September 1944, which took two to three minutes. In thisexperiments were conducted at the Dachau time, the radiation treatment wasconcentration camp to study various administered and, unknown to themethods of making sea water drinkable. At prisoners, they were rendered completelyone point, a group of roughly 90 Roma sterile. Many suffered severe radiationwere deprived of food and given nothing burns.but sea water to drink by Dr. HansEppinger, leaving them gravely injured. Experiments with poisonThey were so dehydrated that othersobserved them licking freshly mopped In or around December 1943 and Octoberfloors in an attempt to get drinkable water. 1944, experiments were conducted at Buchenwald to investigate the effect ofSterilization experiments various poisons. The poisons were secretly administered to experimental subjects inFrom about March 1941 to about January their food. The victims died as a result of1945, sterilization experiments were the poison or were killed immediately inconducted at Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, and order to permit autopsies. In Septemberother places by Dr. Carl Clauberg. The 1944, experimental subjects were shot withpurpose of these experiments was to poisonous bullets, suffered torture anddevelop a method of sterilization which often died.would be suitable for sterilizing millions
  4. 4. Incendiary bomb experiments the trial, several of the doctors argued in their defense that there was noFrom around November 1943 through to international law regarding medicalcirca January 1944, experiments were experimentation.conducted at Buchenwald to test the effectof various pharmaceutical preparations on However, informed consent in Germanphosphorus burns. These burns were medicine was not original to issuesinflicted on prisoners using phosphorus surrounding WWII. In 1900, Dr. Albertmaterial extracted from incendiary bombs. Neisser infected patients (mainly prostitutes) with syphilis without theirHigh altitude experiments consent. Despite support from most of the academic community, public opinion was against Neisser, led by psychiatrist Albert Moll. While Neisser went on to be fined by the Royal Disciplinary Court, Moll developed “a legally based, positivistic contract theory of the patient-doctor relationship” that was not adopted into German law. Eventually, the minister for religious, educational, and medical affairs issued a directive stating that medical interventions In early 1942, other than for diagnosis, healing, andprisoners at Dachau concentration camp immunization were excluded under allwere used by Rascher in experiments to circumstances if “the human subject was aaid German pilots who had to eject at high minor or not competent for other reasons”altitudes. A low-pressure chamber or if the subject had not given his or hercontaining these prisoners was used to “unambiguous consent” after a “propersimulate conditions at altitudes of up to 20 explanation of the possible negativekm (66,000 ft). It was rumored that consequences” of the intervention.Rascher performed vivisections on the However, this was not legally binding.brains of victims who survived the initialexperiment.[20] Of the 200 subjects, 80 In response, Drs. Leo Alexander anddied outright, and the others were Andrew Conway Ivy drafted a ten pointexecuted. (See also Hubertus Strughold.) memorandum entitled Permissible Medical Experiment that went on to be known asAftermath the Nuremberg Code. The code calls for such standards as voluntary consent ofMany of the subjects died as a result of the patients, avoidance of unnecessary painexperiments conducted by the Nazis, while and suffering, and that there must be amany others were murdered after the tests belief that the experimentation will not endwere completed or to study the effect post in death or disability. However, the Codemortem. Those who survived were often was not cited in any of the findings againstleft mutilated, suffering permanent the defendants and never made it intodisability, weakened bodies, and mental either German or American medical law.duress. On August 19, 1947, the doctorscaptured by Allied forces were put on trialin USA vs. Karl Brandt et al., which iscommonly known as the Doctors’ Trial. At
  5. 5. Modern ethical issuesThe modern body of medical knowledgeabout how the human body reacts tofreezing to the point of death is basedalmost exclusively on these Naziexperiments. This, together with the recentuse of data from Nazi research into theeffects of phosgene gas, has provedcontroversial and presents an ethicaldilemma for modern physicians who donot agree with the methods used to obtainthese data. Similarly, controversy hasarisen from the use of results of biologicalwarfare testing done by the ImperialJapanese Army’s Unit 731. However, theresults from Unit 731 were kept classifiedby the United States and the majority ofdoctors involved were given pardons.iiTaken