Medical experiments


Medical experiments
   During the course of World War II, the Germans conducted more than 70 medical research projects in the concentration camps. Using camp inmates as “guinea pigs,” the experiments received the support of the entire medical complex of the Third Reich. Approximately 200 German medical doctors were assigned to the camps, where they carried out projects designated to them by German and Austrian research institutions. Camp inmates at Dachau were exposed to experiments involving high-altitude testing, whereby the victims were placed in pressure chambers with low pressure and little oxygen in order to duplicate the conditions prevailing at an altitude of 13 miles. The purpose of the experiment was to determine the necessary type of equipment required to save the crew of a damaged aircraft at 13 miles’ altitude. The experiments took place with the full knowledge that human beings cannot properly function at an altitude of 3.7 miles or above without an adequate supply of oxygen.
   Freezing experiments were also carried out at Dachau, whereby efforts were made to determine the most effective way of treating persons who were in a state of shock following a prolonged stay in freezing water or exposed to dry cold. Camp inmates were put into tanks with ice water and remained there for 70 to 90 minutes, or as long as it took for them to lose consciousness. Once removed from the tanks, the victims were denied painkillers to relieve their suffering. The most notorious of the medical experiments, however, were those associated with Dr. Josef Mengele, the chief medical doctor at Auschwitz from 1943 to 1945. Because of his research interests, Mengele monitored the Selektionen in Auschwitz in hopes of identifying suitable victims for his experiments. Jews and Gypsies served as guinea pigs for his experiments on infants, dwarfs, giants, hunchbacks, and other malformed prisoners who piqued his interest. The most infamous of his experiments, however, were those performed on twins in hopes of finding a method that would produce a race of blue-eyed Aryans, thus realizing a prime objective of Nazi racial science. In Auschwitz’s notorious Block 10, Mengele, along with other physicians, organized sterilization stations, which included the intensive use of X-rays on their victims. Mengele was also involved in the special dissection wards in Auschwitz, where autopsies were performed on murdered camp inmates and their body parts shipped back to German medical schools to be used for research purposes.

Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. . 2014.

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