From 1933-1945 the Nazis built thousands of concentration camps around Europe. Almost everyone hears about the atrocities that Jews suffered in the camps during this time period. Many people do forget however that the Jews weren’t the only people who suffered “ the more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it” - Josef Mengele Doctors and Scientists like the infamous Josef Mengele used these camps and their prisoners to perform horrible experiments, that if performed today would disgust and terrify people everywhere. Many of these people died not from malnutrition like the other camp prisoners but from pain and diseases like malaria and typhus.
In the concentration camps numerous people arrived without any idea of what was going to happen to them. For doctors like Josef Mengele these people arriving presented multiple new experiments that he could now perform on them. Twins seemed to be something of great interest to Mengele. Upon arriving families often had to decide whether they thought it was better to announce their twins or to keep it a secret. None of these families knew what the doctor was truly planning for them.
Mengele believed that twins held the secrets to things like genetics and heredity. Concentration camps seemed like a great place for him to find these twin “specimens”.At selection twins where constantly searched for. (Out of the 3 thousand twins found only about 200 survived) <ul><li>If twins were found they were immediately moved while everyone else was sent to their deaths.(if the twins were real young the mother would sometimes accompany them) </li></ul><ul><li>Mengele was a constant presence at selection,even when it wasn’t his day. No twins could be missed coming off the trains. </li></ul><ul><li>Twins weren’t the only people Mengele took an interest in. He also had his men look for dwarfs, giants and people with other odd genetic disorders </li></ul>
Once twins were found they were treated much differently from the other prisoners within the camp. They were referred to as “Mengele’s children” and were allowed much more freedoms and kept in better health. Much of the time they were permitted to keep their own clothes and their hair. Unlike the other concentration camp prisoners the twins were also allowed to play sports and they were given plenty of food. They never had to perform very hard tasks and were exempt from punishment.
Josef Mengele The appearance of Mengele to the children did not frighten them. When they did see him he was often referred to as “Uncle Mengele”. He always arrived with pockets filled with candies and sweets for the children. Occasionally he would talk or play sports with them as well. To the twins there wasn’t really much to fear from the sight of Mengele. He might have appeared nice but other than “Uncle Mengele” he was known as “ THE ANGEL OF DEATH”
Each day massive amounts of blood were taken from each twin (as much as ten cubic centimeters a day) Sometimes the blood was mass transfused between the two twins. In an attempt to create blue eyes, the twins would also be subjected to painful eye drops that could infections and temporary/permanent blindness. ( these drops or injections were chemicals that Mengele wanted to try) Other times one twin was purposely infected with a disease like TB. Once the infected twin died, the other was often killed by having chloroform injected into the heart which killed them instantly. The twins would then be dissected to compare the bodies. Even if the twins weren’t being experimented on they were often subjected to an in-depth observation of each of their bodies. Precise measurements and pictures were taken that required the twins to stand in certain positions for prolonged periods of time
Twins weren’t the only people being experimented on in the concentration camps. Various experiments were conducted to help out the army and air force. Nazi scientists and doctors also used the prisoners to test out effective ways to treat diseases, as well as wounds that people got from war.
High altitude experiments and hypothermia experiments were conducted by the Nazis to help out their military. Since the Germans were fighting on the Russian front, scientists took great interest in how they could treat hypothermia. As part of their experiment, prisoners would be placed in freezing ice baths where the temperature was lowered until the prisoner passed out. They then used various methods to reheat the prisoner and tried to see which was most effective. High altitude experiments helped Nazi scientists determine at what high it was safe for pilots to parachute. The prisoners used would be placed in a low pressure chamber to simulate altitudes as high as 66,000 feet
As World War II continued scientists used prisoners to find ways to treat wounds from things like bombs,gunshots and other injuries they could sustain from fighting. But the prisoners didn’t have any wounds similar to those of an injured soldier. The scientists decided to make their own wounds to treat. These wounds were then purposely infected with diseases like gangrene and tetanus. A wound was made and circulation was stopped by tying the ends of blood vessels at the end of the wound. To make this even more realistic of a cut, pieces of wood and glass would be put in the wound to aggravate it and cause an infection. These now realistic wounds allowed the doctor to test the effectiveness of various drugs like sulfonamide and others.
Since the Nazis considered themselves superior over all other races one of the experiments that they carried out was mass-sterilization. By sterilizing all other races that they believed to be inferior, that would then prevent those people from reproducing. These sterilized groups would then eventually die off and the superior German or Aryan race would be the only ones left to make more children. <ul><li>The Germans tried various methods to sterilize both men and females, but the biggest issue was to find a way to do it cheap and quickly. </li></ul>Injections, surgeries and even X-rays were all tried in the experimental processes to mass-sterilize
When the attempt to mass-sterilize began on of the methods tested was the use of X-rays. Prisoners were exposed to multiple X-rays from two machines that were directed at their reproductive organs. The radiation destroys the persons ability to produce either eggs or sperm. The people subjected to this treatment often suffered from severe radiation burns.
Doctor Clauberg was the main doctor in charge of mass-sterilization at Auschwitz. There he developed the method of injecting a caustic (something capable of destroying living tissue) substance into women. The substance would obstruct the fallopian tubes and make the women unable to become pregnant. Many women however suffered from horrible pain, bleeding or inflamed ovaries. This procedure also made it possible for the person to be unaware of what had even happened to them. Clauberg estimated that a properly equipped physician could sterilize 1000 women a day.
malaria Infectious hepatitis Nazi doctors were also searching for ways to treat diseases that German soldiers were encountering. People would be purposely injected with diseases like tuberculosis, typhus, malaria, yellow fever and infectious hepatitis. Some doctors tried to treat the infected people with various drugs that could possibly be used to prevent or cure the disease. Other doctors would have the infected person killed and then that persons body would be dissected and studied to see how the disease had effected organs and other parts of the body.
The way these doctors treated people seems completely unimaginable. Doctor Herta Oberheuser, for example, would inject people with oil and evipan (A barbiturate that is effective as a hypnotic and sedative) injections. After they died she would then remove their limbs and vital organs. She also had the prisoners inflicted with wounds that she would then rub glass and wood into to simulate a battle field wound Josef Mengele or the Angel of Death had an entire block of women gassed after it was reported that the block was infected with lice. In and attempted experiment, Mengele had two twins sewn together. The hope was that it would form Siamese twins. The children’s veins were sewn together and they suffered from terrible gangrene.
Vera Alexander, a Jewish prisoner posted to the barracks for twins in the Gypsy camp, testified: "One day Mengele brought chocolate and special clothes. The next day an SS man, on Mengele's instructions, took away two children, who happened to be my favorites: Guido and Nino, aged about four. Two, perhaps three days later the SS man brought them back in a frightening condition. They had been sewn together like Siamese twins. The hunchbacked child was tied to the second one on the back and wrists. Mengele had sewn their veins together. The wounds were filthy and they festered. There was a powerful stench of gangrene. The children screamed all night long. Somehow their mother managed to get hold of morphine and put an end to their suffering.”
"anyone who wants to cure this era, which is inwardly sick and rotten, must first of all summon up the courage to make clear the causes of the disease," -Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf
Nazi Ideology had a great deal to do with why these medical experiments were conducted and even allowed. The “disease” (referred to in the previous slide), to Hitler, were the Jews, Gypsies, mentally disabled and everyone else he deemed inferior. The start of the gas chambers and experiments were just justified by the fact that Nazis thought these things were eliminating the German race of unwanted people and things. The killing of all these people was referred to as healing for the German people. Some believe it was this “healing-killing paradox” that allowed the doctors to feel less guilty and concerned.
<ul><li>After World War II ended the Nuremberg Trials started. 23 German scientists and doctors were accused of committing horrible and appalling crimes against the camp prisoners. 15 were found guilt and 8 were aqquitted. 7 of the 15 were given the death penalty and 8 were put in prison. </li></ul><ul><li>Herta Oberheuser was put in jail for 20 years but she was released after 10 years in 1952. Her license to practice medicine wasn’t revoked until 1958. </li></ul><ul><li>Carl Clauberg was sentenced to 25 years in Russia but after 7 years he was pardoned and sent back to West Germany(because of an arrangement that had been made). Clauberg was re-arrested in 1955 and died shortly after in 1957 </li></ul>
Unlike the other doctors who were either imprisoned or killed Josef Mengele escaped and went on to live until his death. After leaving Auschwitz Mengele was captured as a P.O.W. and held near Munich. The allies, who weren’t aware of his true identity released him. After being released Josef decided to flee Germany and went to Argentine where there was Nazi sympathy. While in South America Mengele was constantly moving from one country to another to avoid being caught. Despite the numerous rewards, bounties and warrants, Mengele was never caught. One day in Brazil, while going for a swim, Mengele suffered a massive stroke and started to drown. By the time he was finally dragged to shore he had died.
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