Holocaust Medical Experiments
How it works
The time was 1933 and there was chaos everywhere. Jews were being sent to ghettos, and many were being killed. But if that was not enough, there were deadly medical experiments being performed on the defenseless prisoners of the concentration camps. Different doctors were included in setting up these inhumane experiments. Many experiments were performed, but only certain procedures benefited the Wehrmacht, the German military. The experiments were only conducted on some prisoners, many of whom were children. The Nazi medical experiments were arguably one of the most forgotten events during the Holocaust, even though is was a tormentous time for those who were included.
Kulish states, “Although some SS Doctors volunteered to perform these brutal experiments, many were forced” (Kulish 68). If a doctor refused to help with the experiments, the Nazis would threaten to kill their family and put the doctor in jail. Not all types of doctors were used for experiments. The most commonly used doctors were psychiatrists, geneticists, and anthropologists. The most commonly known doctor was Dr. Josef Mengele. He was known for setting up the experimentations on twins, as well as gassing many families. Mengele experimented on over 1,500 twins. Another doctor was Captain Kramar. He was the main doctor that set up the gas chambers and he was more known than most of the other doctors. He would make some families gas their own children or relatives. Kramar would tell the unsuspecting prisoners that they needed to be cleansed before they went to their barracks, but in reality the shower rooms were the gas chambers. Then came Dr. Amann and Dr. Weimar, they both worked with the euthanasia program.
How it works
The euthansia program cost 100,000 marks to fund. That is roughly $57,907.63 in U.S money! There are many other doctors but those are the most known SS Doctors due to the role they played in the experiments. The tools the doctors used back then are not very different then the tools doctors use today. The SS Doctors used tubs for the freezing experiments, needles, shots, and many other items to check the overall health of the prisoners. The doctors were not all bad. Those doctors which were forced to experiment provided ways to get out of the concentration camps. Some doctors told guards that the prisoner has died and put the actually alive subject in a body bag and carried them out of the camp. Whilst other doctors would be friendly with the children and respect their wishes to be left alone. If they got caught doing either of these actions, they would be killed. Wilhem Jellinek states, “Dr. Hans Eislete, a physician living comfortably in the suburb of Pasing, had killed at least two hundred prisoners in concentration camps as an SS Doctor” (Kulish 70). Although doctors were doing terrible things, there was surprisingly no protest from the German public.
There were three main reasons for the experiments. The first being that they needed to find ways to help their military survive in the worst conditions. The second was testing drugs and finding treatments to help fight against malaria, yellow fever, and infectious hepatitis. The last reason for the experiments was for the Naizi’s racial goals which singled out twins and gypsies. Many experiments were done, but only a certain few were the main focus. Such as subjecting people to “high altitudes” by slowly decreasing the oxygen level until they died. The second main experiment was injecting women and children with the deadly diseases typhus and jaundice. Another known experiment is subjecting prisoners to freezing waters and waiting to see how long it would take them to freeze to death.
There was also poison gas testing, stomach, liver, and heart experiments. But by far the most known experiment was the testing on twins. Countless experiments were done on twins such as, inseminations, blood transfusions, amputations, and disease injections. Alongside these experiments was the euthanaisa program. The euthanasia program was very hard to fund. It needed 100,000 marks to start. The euthanasia programs consisted of finding the fastest, and most painless, way of killing someone. Once a subject died, their skeletons and skins were collected after the experiment so that the doctors could experiment on that as well. Shier states, “Even though the public knew these experiments were wrong, there was no protest made about them” (Shier 979).
Although many people were experimented upon, only certain people were the main targets of the experiments. For instance, very healthy prisoners were mainly used because the doctors could determine very clearly what symptoms occur with what disease, and what would happen if they administered another certain drug to try and cure that disease. Kulish states, “The doctors also experimented on those who were weak and unfit for work because they just wanted to kill them. That was the main reason for the Holocaust after all” (Kulish 14). Pretty girls were also targeted because the Nazis did not want any of the other Nazis or SS falling in love and trying to sneak them out. If you were handicapped or crippled in any way then you would be experimented upon because you were considered useless. Russian prisoners of war were also experimented on just to see how different races would react to different diseases. Many others were also included such as, Gypsies, Jews, Roma people, and homosexuals. Out of all those people, twins were experimented on far more than anyone else. In the death camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau, there were nearly 3,000 twins! Blakemore states, “If one of the twins died, the other twin would be brutally murdered” (Blakemore n.d.). Any camp victims would be buried in pits or in the field.
That is why the Nazi medical experiments were a tormentous during the Holocaust and why we should try to avoid the same thing in the future. It is also the reason why doctors should remember their oath to their patients and to everyone so that everyone remains safe and healthy.