Medical Experiments of the Holocaust As a society we place those in the medical profession on a pedestal. They are people to be looked up to and admired. In many ways they are Gods, right here with us on earth. People put the hope and faith in doctors hoping they can perform miracles. Throughout history, doctors have indeed preformed many wonders. There were, however, some doctors that betrayed this belief and peoples trust.
These doctors could be found in concentration camps such as Auschwitz and Dachau. These doctors committed unspeakable acts against the Jews and other minorities, believing that they were conducting helpful experiments. Following the holocaust, however, they were punished for their actions. Between 1939 and 1945, more than seventy medical research projects and medical experiments were conducted at Auschwitz and Dachau. (Auschwitz Medical Experimentation).
Over two hundred doctors participated in such research projects and experiments, sentencing between 70, 000 and 100, 000 people, held against their will, to death through experimentation. These were mostly Jews, but also gypsies, homosexuals and other minorities. They were thought to be inferior to the human race. Such practices became widely accepted and embraced by the Germans, due to the Nazis propaganda. The experiments conducted were diverse, but could be categorized in three classes. The first class of experiments was conducted for the Nazi High Command.
These experiments dealt with survival and rescue. They involved freezing and extreme temperatures as well as the ingestion of seawater and altitude changes (Auschwitz Medical Experiments). The freezing experiments were divided into two parts. The first was to see how long it would take to lower body temperature, and the next to decide how to best resuscitate a frozen victim. The doctors would submerge a naked victim in an icy vat of water. They would insert and insulated thermometer into the victim's rectum in order to monitor his or her body temperature.
The icy vat proved to be the fastest way to drop the body's temperature. Once the body reached 25 degrees Celsius, the victim would usually die. Anther manner to carry out such an experiment was to strap a naked victim to a stretcher and leave him outdoors during extreme winter temperatures. They would then attempt different resuscitation techniques on the victims, which were equally cruel. The victim would be placed beneath sun lamps, which were so hot, the skin would burn. They would then freeze and reheat the victim, repeatedly.
Another revival technique was irrigation; the victim would have boiling hot water irrigated throughout their bladder, intestines and stomach. All patients died from this technique. They would also submit to high altitude changes. They would be locked in a low-pressure chamber until their lungs would explode.
These experiments would help the doctor to determine the limits of the human body. The second class of experiments involved medical research. Doctor's would conduct medical experiments, which included the gas chamber and epidemic disease. Some victims were killed in gas chambers. This would allow better research to help develop ways of stopping such chemical attacks by the enemy or to help improve there way of killing there victims by showing them the effects of phosphorus and mustard gas burns. Doctors would also inject the victims with diseases such as malaria, smallpox, cholera and spotted fever.
They would do so in order to observe the effectiveness of vaccines. Doctors would also break bones and flesh and then infect the wounds. They would also perform operations on the victims without administering anesthesia; all victims of these operations were killed during or shortly after. The third class involved experiments about the human race. These doctors would conduct racial and genetic experiments. The goals of these experiments were to refine the supreme race and to find the cause of defects.
Dr. Mengele was a doctor famous for his genetic experiments. Dr. Mengele would select twins from the concentration camps to perform his experiments on. Often times he would kill the twins by injecting chloroform into their heart. He would then dissect the victims and analyze their organs.
Not all of his victims were killed before experimentation. Dr. Mengele would force tubes into the victim's body and ventilate their lungs with gases. He would also place them in boiling hot water, in order to collect body hairs for experimentation. The doctors had many justifications for conducting such terrible, inhuman experiments. Ultimately they believed that the conclusions drawn from these experiments could be of great benefit.
The experiments dealing with temperature extremes and water could be used to help aid the naval combat as well as help to solve rescue problems. The freezing temperatures they subjected people to were similar to the temperatures German soldiers experienced on the Eastern Front. The pressure chambers would help the aeronautical combat. The gas chamber experiments could help solve battlefield problems by determining how burns affected the body and how they can be healed.
The experiments involving the diseases could help aide the German Armed Forces located in occupied territories where these diseases were common. Finally, the genetic research would help the Nazis to achieve a perfect race, which was their ultimate goal. There were many doctors involved in such heinous crimes were indicted of such crimes during a part of the Nuremberg Trials, commonly known as the Doctors Trial. The actual name of the trial was "United States of America v. Karl Brandt" Brandt was a personal physician of Adolph Hitler and the main defendant. He was also appointed Reich Commissioner for Sanitation and Health.
In 1946, an American military tribunal opened criminal proceedings against 23 German doctors who participated in war crime against humanity. The judges heard testimonies from 85 witnesses and reviewed nearly 1500 documents. The judges found 16 of the doctors guilty and sentenced 7 of them to death, 9 were given prison terms and 7 were found not guilty. (Microsoft Encarta 1998, Nuremberg Trials) Contrary to popular societal beliefs, these professionals were not role models to be admired. Instead, they are people to be despised. They conducted many horrifying experiments on innocent people.
Doctors are to help and heal patients, not hurt and destroy them. Doctors are expected to save lives, not take them. These doctors used their positions to aid the progress of the Nazi ideals as well as the success of the German military. Despite the terrible crimes the doctors committed, they believed that they were doing good. They were helping to achieve a supreme race as well as a productive, healthy military.
They were later punished for their crimes. Unfortunately only a few could be found, and put on trial. Others went on with their life, enjoying what they had deprived so many others of. Some even continued their profession of being family doctors all around Germany, and many still have the same Anti-Semitic views they had before when they were professional killers.
(Encyclopedia of the Holocaust) Henson, Cary "Medical ethics and nazi legacy" Jonathan Mann, Volume 8, Page 332-358 January 1, 1993 Gutman Israel, "Encyclopedia of the Holocaust" New York, Simon and Schuster, 1995 Microsoft Encarta 1998, Nuremberg Trials Snyder, Dr. Louis L. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. New York: Paragon House, 1989.