Sitting on an operating table, deep inside the corridors ofAzchwitz concentration camp, a man is listening to the Nazigun fire outside. He hears the innocent screams asautomatic weapons mow through crowds of familiesdeemed “unfit to live”.
Gradually silence falls, only to bebroken again by the solitary pops of a pistol, finishing ofthose who did not die right off. It should be a sickeningfeeling for this man, he should feel anger and hate, andsadness for these newest additions to the Nazi stoves. Butthis man can no longer feel such sadness, such grief.Instead he feels only jealousy, jealousy for those who haddied quickly, with a bullet to the brain or the heart. Nodoubt, considering what he’s been through, and what hewill go through still, he considers the others to be the luckyones. They will not boil.
They will not freeze. They will notbe diseased or hacked apart. They will not have their headsexplode in a pressurised chamber. They were the luckyones, not chosen to act as guinea pigs to further science bydying a slow painful death at the hands of the mostgruesome members of the Nazi party, the “Nazi Doctors”.When World War two ended in 1945, over eleventhousand people had been exterminated(p4 Freidman) inthe Nazis’ effort to “racially purify” Germany and its’territories. It seemed tat the vast majority of these killingshad taken place in concentration camps, by releasingZyklon-B(p68 Guthman) in gas chambers disguised asshowers. As the allies began holding the first war criminaltrials, however, it was quickly seen that a secret, genocidefar more hideous than was previously suspected, had takenplace.
Worse still, the killers were not radical soldiers, butrespected members of the German scientificand Medicalcommunity. The German government had given the”Doctors of death” (p34, Gilbert) endless supplies ofsubjects to experiment on in any way they pleased. Someexperiments were to benefit the army.
They included highaltitude tests, as well as the bodies reactions to freezingtemperatures.(p2, Net) Other experiments were called forby the nazis themselves, such as tests in genetic traits, mindcontrolling drugs and mass sterilization.(p3-5, Net) Therewere medicine tests and more commonly, tests usingdiseases without any known cures. The most gruesometests however, were fabricated in the twisted minds of thedoctors themselves and are famous for their void of anypurposes at all. The high altitude tests were experimentsinitiated by the nazi government and followed closely byHeinrich Himmler.(p36, Gilbert) The experiments wereconducted in a low pressure chamber that could simulateflight up to 68,000 feet above sea level.
(p37, Gilbert) Theirpoint was to record the subjects reaction to flight in highpressure areas, and in high and low oxygen areas. Througha small window, the scientists could watch and record thesubjects exact point of death, usually from rupturinglungs.(p2, Net) One eye witness claimed that men would”tear their heads and faces off with finger nails”(p36,Gilbert) in attempts to relive the pressure from theireardrums. At least 200 prisoners are known to have diedfrom these experiments.
The second experiments for armyuse were the heating/freezing tests. These tests judged theamount of time a person could be exposed to freezingtemperatures before they died.(p57, Guthman) The resultswere meant to help determine how long Nazi soldiers couldremain in trenches throughout the Russian winter. Testsubjects were put naked into vats of 37 degree water. Itwas gradually lowered to 25 degrees.(p55, Guthman) Thesubjects body temperature was measured through thestomach or rectum until he died, at which point his bodywas analyzed to find the exact cause of death. It wasusually heart failure.
(p57, Guthman) One particular story ofthis torturous test was about two Russian POWs. In mosttests, the men would last for one hour before dying. Thetwo Russians were still living after two hours of freezing,when one was about to ask the German officer to justshoot them. To the idea, the second replied “Don’t expectany sympathy from this Fascist dog!”(p32, FReidman)Instead, the men said their good-byes and awaited death. Ittook a total of five hours to come.(p32, Freidman) Often,when the cold tank was not usable, the experiment wasimprovised by strapping naked subjects to stretchers andset outside to brave the harsh winter night.
At one hourintervals, the subject was drenched with ice water until hefroze.(p18, Gilbert) Once frozen, the Nazis would test averity of methods to resuscitate him. These methodsincluded placing the subject under heat lamps, forcefullyirrigating his body with near- boiling water, forcing sexualintercourse, and immersing him in a warm bath.(p4, Net)Of these methods, the most successful was the warm bath.(p4, Net) Some tests were called for by the Nazi partyitself, including genetic experimentation. The purpose ofthese experiments was primarily to create propaganda as towhy non-Aryans were inferior.
(p30, Freidman) Thesecondary goal was to determine what caused these said”defects”. Hundreds upon hundreds of samples, andmeasurements. were taken. Test results were bent to provethat Jews, gypsies and homosexuals had a different type ofblood and were more prone to crime than straight Aryans.(p31, Freidman) Of all the Nazi doctors who worked in thefield of genetics, no name is more infamous than Dr.
JosefMengele. Before the war, Mengele had studied philosophyand medicine. After being wounded in battle, he becamethe head doctor at Auschwitz,(P21, Carste) where hepursued an infatuation in the genetics of twins. He studiedand photographed them, probed and examined them. Atone point they were given a gastral intestinal examinationwithout anesthesia.(p17, Carste) Other times they had tohave all their body hair plucked out. After a three weekexperiment, the twins were exterminated and dissected.
(p18, Carste) Another set of experiments devised by thenazi party involved mind control. Subjects were issuedchemicals ranging from hallucinogens similar to LSD tobarbiturates similar to coffee suspected of crushing willpower.(p4, Net) Many of the drugs were experimental andseveral test subjects died.
Mass sterilization’s were the lastsubject Hitler wanted researched. He knew that even if allthe impure races were not wiped out during the holocaust,he could still use sterilization to prevent the Jews frombearing children. The most hyped method of sterilizationand castration used by the Nazis involved x-rayradiation.(p5,Net) The victims of these experiments weremost often the mentally handicapped andinsane.(p34,Freidman) During World War two, much waslearned about various diseases by the Nazi doctors. Theirwas always a hefty number of prisoners in theconcentration camp with any given disease. This was dueto the cramped and dirty living conditions.
For instance,when Dr. Klaus sought to study malaria at Dachau prisoncamp, he brought in mosquitoes to infect 300subjects.(p67, Gilbert) Within a few days, he had caused a1000 man epidemic.(p67, Gilbert) Besides malaria, Nazitest subjects were exposed to countless other diseases,including typhoid and phlegmones.(p5, Net) Theseparticular diseases, for some reason, were tested heavily onprisoners of religious vocations.
Twelve preists are knownto have died and eigrt to have been tortured withphlegmone membrane inflations.(p5, Net) The mostgruesome of all the Nazi medical experiments were thoseconducted for no plausible rhyme or reason. In truth, theonly point they served was the sick satisfaction of thedoctors conducting them. The allies found the remains ofthese experiments when they liberated Auchwitz.
Therewere vats and bins full of healthy amputated limbs.(p6,Net) Some of the victims themselves still hobbled about.One such woman testified at the Nuremberg trials. She toldthe story of how her leg was sliced open to the bone for noapparent reason several times over the course of ayear.
(p67, Freidman) Others had had bones brokenseveral times over in the same manner. When the Germanslost the war, most of the doctors knew their researchwould soon become public and fled the country. Otherssteadfastly denied any knowledge or involvement.
(p46,Carste) At the Nuremberg war criminal trials, onlytwenty-three doctors were brought up on charges and ofthem, only seven were sentenced to death.(p47, Carste)Where did the rest of the mad scientists vanish to? Everynow and then one turns up, sometimes in some rathersurprising places. In 1993, Scientist Hubertus Strughold’sname was removed from The National Air Force libraryand his mural removed from the “Medical Heroes” wall atOhio University.
Known as “The father of US spacemedicine”, (p55 Carste)Strughold was recently discoveredto have been among the doctors who approved the waterand pressure chamber experiments during World WarTwo. Fearing prosecution at Nuremberg, he fled to the USin 1945 and began working with the space program.(p6,Net) Had the Holocaust been run by space creatures or bysome cosmic or religious force, it would most likely lose itsunbelivability.
It seems like an act man would be incapableof, so much terror and gore that it easier to believe it wasnot mans’ doing at all. “Perhaps Hitler was Satan himself..
..”one guesses. That would be easier to believe, that the devilwas running the war and his soldiers were disciples of hell.But it is simply not true.
Hitler was as much a man as thenext, as were his soldiers, his followers, and even hisdoctors. This is that appalling, uncomprehendable fact.What led these trusted men, men sworn to the helping ofothers, to jovialy carve up innocent lives?. Was it fiercenationalist pride and faith in Hitler’s speeches? Or was itsomething by far more frightening? That when left to theirown devices, unchecked and unbound by the everydaycourtesies of society, these doctors reverted back to themost natural, basic tendencies of man. In doing so, theymight have discovered somthing far more unsettling than theexperiments themselves; that the essence of man, whenallowed to move freely, was uncomprimisingly evil.Bibliography Carste, Edward.
War Crimes. MeriweatherPrinting. New York, 1993. Freidman, Ina. The OtherVictims.
Houton Mifflin Company. Boston, 1990. Gilbert,Norman. The Nazi Doctors. Altonbury Press, New York.
1982. Guthman,Israel. The Holocaust. .
MacMillanPublishing Company. London, 1990. Medical Experimentsof the Holocaust and Nazi Medicine.http;//remember.
org/educate/medexp.html. 5/31/98.Category: History