Medical Experiments of the Holocaust
In this research paper, I am going to discuss some of the medical experiments that were done to the prisoners by Nazi doctors. According to Education…A Legacy Forum, some of these experiments are freezing/hypothermia, high altitude tests, testing of the chemical sulfanilamide, seawater experiments, phosgene gas testing, genetic testing, and the experimentation on twins. These experiments, no matter which one, were cruel and inhumane. Nazi doctors would experiment on prisoners without caring about the welfare of their patient. All restrictions were gone, and these doctors could do whatever they wanted.
Many of these prisoners endured pain, and agony, to further the Nazi doctor’s research. The goals of these experiments were to promote the German race, “in the name of science”. ( Education… A Legacy Forum, Josef Mengele, The Experiments) The freezing experiments were conducted to determine the most effective means for the Germans to avoid hypothermia while fighting on the Russian Front. For as many as five hours, doctors either put prisoners in large vats of ice water, or they would be strapped down on stretchers, and placed outside in the freezing weather naked.
While these people were suffering with the pain of their bodies slowly freezing, the doctors would measure the changes in their body temperature, heart rate, and other factors. When a prisoner’s body temperature reached 80°F, the doctors would use different methods of rewarming them. These included sleeping bags, scalding baths, internal irrigation (blistering hot water would be irrigated into the prisoner’s stomach), and the doctors would even force naked women to copulate with the near frozen prisoner. These resuscitation experiments were usually just as painful and deadly as the freezing experiments. The Experiments) In order to find the best way to save German pilots when they were forced to eject from their fighter planes at high altitude, they conducted experiments in which prisoners would be placed in chambers with a low pressure atmosphere. This was to simulate the altitudes, as high as 70,000 feet. The doctors monitored the prisoner’s physical and psychological responses as they slowly and painfully succumbed to their demise. Afterwards, the doctors would dissect the prisoner’s brain, sometimes while they were still alive, to show the formation of small air bubbles in the brain’s blood vessels.
As many as two hundred patients were tested on, and around eighty died on the spot. The rest were then executed in the gas chambers. (The Experiments, Josef Mengele and The Medical Experiments) The experiments to test the effectiveness of sulfanilamide and other drugs against infection for the purpose of helping the German Army were performed since many front line soldiers suffered from persistent and deadly gangrene. Doctors would inflict battlefield-like wounds in prisoners. They would then rub glass, wood, metal, and bacteria into the wound, resulting in infection.
Blood vessels were tied with a tourniquet to simulate what would actually happen to an actual war wound on the front lines. Since the infection would become so deadly, many prisoners died. Others endured serious injury and agony. (Josef Mengele and The Medical Experiments, Remember. org, The Experiments) Seawater experiments were conducted to find out how to make seawater drinkable. Dr. Hans Eppinger, and other doctors, at the concentration camp located in Dachau conducted these experiments. They forced about ninety Gypsies to drink seawater only, while being deprived of food.
Obviously since the salt content of the water causes the body to retain more salt, and lose more water, which is why seawater is undrinkable, these experiments caused serious bodily injury, major dehydration, and an enormous amounts of pain and suffering. The Gypsies were so dehydrated and so desperate for water, they reportedly “licked the floored after they had been mopped just to get a drop of fresh water. ” (The Experiments, Remember. org) Experiments were conducted to find an antidote to phosgene, a toxic gas use as a weapon during World-War I.
At Fort Ney near Strasbourg, France, Nazi doctors exposed roughly 52 concentration camp prisoners to the phosgene gas. This gas caused extreme irritation to the prisoners’ lungs. Many of the prisoners suffered pulmonary edema after the exposure. Four died as a result of the experiments. (The Experiments) Josef Mengele, a Nazi doctor stationed at Auschwitz, was called the “Angel of Death”. Many times he would be the one who was in charge of “selection”. He had the power to decide the fate of the prisoner; he had the power of life and death over them. He was in charge of the many experiments conducted at Auschwitz.
The experiments he is most known for are genetic experiments, and the experimentations on twins. (Josef Mengele) Many of those who were experimented on were children. They were kept separate from the other inmates. They were called Mengele’s children. Some of the younger children would call Dr. Mengele, Uncle Mengele, since he would offer them sweets. Mengele’s children usually have certain privileges, such as being able to keep their hair for the first few days of the examinations, a small amount of extra food, and being spared from the beatings of the guards.
However, even being treated slightly better, the excruciating pain and death from the experiments were inevitable. (Josef Mengele) The most important goal of the Nazis was to create the master race of the Aryans. They were to have blonde hair, blue eyes, and have pure German blood. Mengele was determined to find out the secret to creating this “perfect” Aryan race. He would apply eye drops, or inject chemicals into the children’s eyes in an attempt to change brown eyes to the preferred blue. Most of the time, the excruciating pain would leave the children blind for a day or more, and then return to normal.
But at least one child would become permanently blind. Mengele would apply dyes to children’s scalps to see if the color can be controlled. Often times this would burn the scalp of the children. Blood test were taken and transfused in order to see which blood types mixed, and which blood types didn’t. (Josef Mengele, Josef Mengele and Experimentation on Human Twins at Auschwitz) Josef Mengele was fascinated with twins. He believed that twins held the key to unlocking the genetics to the Aryan race. When twins would arrive to the camp, the SS would yell out “Twins, twins! An Eva Mozes, a twin survivor from the camp recalls her experience “As I clutched my mother’s hand, an SS man hurried by shouting, ‘Twins, twins! ’ he stopped to look at us. Miriam and I looked very much alike. We were wearing similar clothes. ‘Are they twins? ’ he asked my mother. ‘Is that good? ’ replied my mother. He nodded yes. ‘They are twins,’ she said. ” Twins were kept in separate barracks from the others in the camp. Sometimes they were given special treatment. Unfortunately, this treatment was short-lived. Of the three thousand twins who entered the camp, only two hundred survived to see the end of the war.
They received blood tests on a daily basis, had surgeries performed without anesthesia, had transfusions from one twin to the other. One set of Gypsy twins were sewn to each other’s back. (Josef Mengele) One twin recalls the death of his brother. “Dr. Mengele had always been more interested in Tibi. I am not sure why—perhaps because he was the older twin. Mengele made several operations on Tibi. One surgery on his spine left my brother paralyzed. He could not walk anymore. Then they took out his sexual organs. After the fourth operation, I did not see Tibi anymore.
I cannot tell you how I felt. It is impossible to put into words how I felt. They had taken away my father, my mother, my two older brothers– and now, my twin” Mengele performed autopsies on twins who died from the experiments. (Josef Mengele, Josef Mengele and Experimentation on Human Twins at Auschwitz, Children of the Flames; Dr, Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz) The medical experiments performed during the Holocaust are examples of why the welfare of humans is the top priority of experiments in science today.