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Holocaust Essays: Medical Experiments of the Holocaust

The following are essays created by a class studying the Holocaust. If you'd like to send your comments, please contact the instructor,

Jan Haswell

Medical Experiments of the Holocaust

by Dion Williams

The topic of my paper was deals with the Medical Experiment of the Holocaust and the doctors who committed these heinous crimes. The purpose of my paper was to discuss in detail the procedures the doctors underwent to advance medicine, while inflicting pain upon their victims who were usually Jews or other ethnic groups despised by the Nazis. I believe that these doctors betrayed and corrupted the definition of what a doctor really is and whose deeds were nothing less than evil.

From the beginning of time, or at least the 20th century, doctors and medicine have been placed upon a pedestal and widely admired. They have given hope and a will to survive to those who are sick and weak and have no one else to turn to. Many have put all their money and faith into doctors, always clinging to the chance that their disease or ailment can and will be cured. Adults wish for their little children to grow up to be doctors one day, even though the child may have something else in mind. Why we have such a fascination with doctors probably stems from many reasons. But probably the main reason is that they have always been linked to the solution to our greatest fears, Pain and Death. Throughout history doctors have produced many great wonders and cured many diseases that at one time were considered deadly, but now can be treated with little or no pain. But there are some doctors who have betrayed and corrupted the sacred place that doctors hold in our society. They were men who looked just like you and me, but had minds that were nothing short of evil. These were the doctors of the Holocaust and who at concentration camps at Auschwitz and dacha committed crimes that are still unimaginable, even though we have seen the proof with our own eyes.

Several of the seventy or more medical-research projects conducted by the Nazis between the fall of 1939 and spring of 1945 were conducted at Auschwitz ("Auschwitz Medical Experimentation"). Well over two hundred doctors were involved in the operation of concentration camps, conduction' Selektionen' medical services, and research ("Auschwitz Medical Experimentation"). These experiments were done on humans held against their own will, because the victims were thought to be lower than rats in the minds of the Germans. These victims were primarily Jews, but also consisted of homosexuals, gypsies or anyone considered inferior to the Nazi race. The treatment of the victims was conducted in a series of experiments which became accepted and widely embraced by most Germans, thanks to the propaganda of Hitler and the Nazi party. The type of experiments were diverse. They included Freezing/Hypothermia, Genetics, Infectious Diseases, Interrogation and Torture, Killing/Genocide, High Altitude, Pharmalogical, Sterilization, Surgery and Traumatic Injuries. These experiments were broken down into three classes. The German Air force at Dachua conducted experiments dealing with survival and rescue, freezing and temperatures and the ingestion of sea water ("Auschwitz Medical Experimentation"). Medical treatment involving gas attacks and epidemic diseases, as well as racial experiments upon dwarfs and twins, rounded out the last two classes.

The only way we can really understand the medical experiments is to actually describe the details of these experiments. The freezing/hypothermia experiments were conducted for the Nazi high command ("Education/A Legacy Forum") The freezing experiments, were divided into two parts, first to see how long it would take to lower the body temperature, and then how best Dachua resuscitate a frozen victim ("Education A Legacy Forum"). The way the doctors would go about doing this would be to put a person in a icy vat of water or outside naked in sub zero temperatures. The icy vat would prove to be the fastest way to drop the body temperature, and the victims were often young healthy Jews or Russians. Usually naked for these experiments, an insulated probe would be inserted into the rectum to measure the temperature ("Education A Legacy Forum"). The victim was then placed in the vat of cold water and the victim would start to freeze. The victim would usually die when the body dropped to 25 degrees C. The other way to freeze a victim would prove to be just as gruesome. The victim would be strapped to a stretcher and placed outside naked during the horrible Auschwitz winters and left to die.

The Nazis also conducted genetic experiments. The overall plan for the Nazis were for the blonde haired, blue eyed supermen to be the only race ("Education A Legacy Forum"). Blacks, Hispanics, Jews or anyone else who did not meet these requirements were to cleansed from society by these genetic experiments. Rules were set up in the 1930's for Germans planning to marry to submit to testing to ensure racial purity. If the laws of these marriages were broken, the death penalty could be administered. For these laws to be taken seriously, tests needed to be conducted to make this propaganda believable. The Nazis set out on a plan to prove all other races were inferior. Measurements of all other races were inclined to criminal behavior. From these findings, they would refine the master race and come up with cause of defects.

One of the most notorious names in these experiments was Dr. Josef Mengele. He was known as the Angel of Death and would be at every selection when the new trains arrived to Auschwitz. After the people were unloaded, they would be sorted through by the doctor, and half would go straight through the gas chambers while the others who were mainly twins and dwarfs, would be selected for experimentation. During these experiments the twins would be measured to the inch and would have to shave their hair within a few days. After all the research was compiled the twins would be killed by a single injection of chloroform in the heart, and then they would be dissected with the organs being sent to research centers ("Education A Legacy Forum"). Dr. Mengele did not always kill his victims in the name of Science. Stories of twins having tubes forced down their noses and lungs and ventilated with gas, and afterwards being placed into hot water vats to the point of passing out just to collect body hairs are just some of the horrors that Dr. Menglele put his victims through.

Dr. Mengele was not the only perpetrator of these crimes against the victims of the Holocaust. Many people have wondered just who these men were and what actually made them tick. Many of these men were well educated, while others had no education at all. There were over twenty doctors convicted for several crimes at the Nuremberg Trials . One such man was Karl Brandt, who was a personal physician to Adolf Hitler. Sieged Hadloser was the medical inspector of the Army. Oksar Schrooeder was the Chief of Staff of the Inspectorate of the Medical Department of Waffen SS. Kurt Blome, Rudolf Brandt, Jochim Murgowsky, Helmut Poppendick, Wolfram Sievers, Gerhard Rose, Seigfried Ruff, Hans Wolfgang Romberg, Victor Brack, Herman Becker-Freyeseng, Georg August Weltz, Konrad Schaeffer, Waldemar Hoven, Wilhelm Beiglboeck, Adolf Pokorny, Herta Oberheuser and Fritz Fischer were all tried and convicted for their roles in these medical experiments.

In conclusion, the doctors of these medical experiments, no matter what their role, did not receive a just punishment. They betrayed and corrupted the definition of a doctor in the name of Nazism. However, I believe Nazi ideology was not the reason why these men committed these horrible crimes. Instead, were just simply evil men with wicked hearts and imaginations. There is just no other way to explain the horrid acts that these men carried out against people who were different and inferior in the minds of Hitler and the Nazis. These crimes, as heinous as they may seem, are far from the worst experiments that were committed, but sadly are the only ones fit enough to print or talk about . It would be hard for anyone to try to justify the actions of these men. At times it seems impossible to believe that a man's hate could drive him to conjure up deeds as horrifying as these. We can only try to imagine the emotional and physical pain that the victims had to endure by the hands of these doctors. These men completely reversed the meaning of a doctor from helper and healer to murderer and destroyer. These men showed us just how terrifying medicine can become if it gets into the wrong hands and minds. They brought into reality just what a mad scientist is and just how deranged he can become if given the right motivation. Sadly, the most painful thought comes from the fact that only some of these doctors were sentenced and punished and some still live a long life after these experiments, enjoying the gift of life, while their victims remain in the graves, never having a chance to fulfill theirs.


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