Aushwitz and The birth of Genocide

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Post by David Thompson » 02 Jun 2003 02:19

Highplainsdrifter -- You asked: "If we could undo the Holocaust but in turn lose these techniques and processes would you?"

Yes. A holocaust is something to be avoided, even if it arguably brings some kind of technological advance to the rest of the world.
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Post by witness » 02 Jun 2003 02:23

The question is what was the outcome of these experiments and how ethical it is to use the the scientific data obtained by such means .
Amazing -some are trying to use even this as an opportunity to whitten up the Nazi regime.. :roll:

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Post by Hasso » 02 Jun 2003 04:10

My point is purely from a research/analysis perspective:

Comparing human experiments conducted in the conditions of the concentration camps to present-day animal experiments in controlled environments is completely flawed. This has nothing to do with the ethics of animal experimentation. The question posted regarded advances in medicine directly due to the experiments conducted in the camps, and I have yet to see any form of proof of anything substantial coming from these experiments.

If the original poster is disappointed with the lack of a definitive stance by anyone posting, perhaps it is because only a person qualified in medicinal laboratory research and development can best provide the answer. While many of us have "heard" things, there is nothing yet posted to address these suggested "advances" in any detail, merely supposition.

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Post by Highplainsdrifter » 06 Jun 2003 02:25

No, I cannot say I would.[/quote]

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Post by Roberto » 06 Jun 2003 09:19

michael mills wrote:From my own point of view, I find the transplantation experiments particularly interesting, leaving aside the question of their morality and legality. It may that those experiments carried out by German doctors were an important step in a development that has resulted in the successful transplantation of organs that is so common today, and benefits us all.
Do you also find these experiments "particularly interesting", Mr. Mills?
William Shirer ([i]The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich[/i], Simon & Schuster New York, 1960, pages 979 to 991) wrote:There were some practices of the Germans during the short-lived New Order that resulted from sheer sadism rather than a lust for mass murder. Perhaps to a psychiatrist there is a difference between the two lusts though the end result of the first differed from the second only in the scale of the killings.
The Nazi medical experiments are an example of this sadism, for in the use of concentration camp inmates as human guinea pigs very little, if any, benefit to science was achieved. It is a tale of horror of which the German medical profession cannot be proud. Although the “experiments” were conducted by fewer than two hundred murderous quacks - albeit some of them held eminent posts in the medical world - their criminal work was known to thousands of leading physicians of the Reich, not a single one of whom, so far as the record shows, ever uttered the slightest public protest. [Footnote: Not even Germany’s most famous surgeon, Dr. Ferdinand Sauerbruch, though he eventually became an anti-Nazi and conspired with the resistance. Sauerbruch sat through a lecture at the Berlin Military Medical Academy in May of 1943 given by two of the most notorious of the doctor-killers, Karl Gebhardt and Fritz Fischer, on the subject of gas gangrene experiments on prisoners. Sauerbruch’s only argument on this occasion was that surgery was better than sulfanilamide! Professor Gebhardt was sentenced to death at the so-called “Doctor’s Trial” and hanged on June 2, 1948. Dr. Fischer was given life imprisonment.]
In the murders in this field the Jews were not the only victims. The Nazi doctors also used Russian prisoners of war, Polish concentration camp inmates, women as well as men, and even Germans. The “experiments” were quite varied. Prisoners were placed in pressure chambers and subjected to high-altitude tests until they ceased breathing. They were injected with lethal doses of typhus and jaundice. They were subjected to “freezing” experiments in icy water or exposed naked in the snow outdoors until they froze to death. Poison bullets were tried on them as was mustard gas. At the Ravensbrück concentration camp for women hundreds of Polish inmates - the “rabbit girls” they were called - were given gas gangrene wounds while others were subjected to “experiments” in bone grafting. At Dachau and Buchenwald gypsies were selected to see how long, and in what manner, they could live on salt water.[my emphasis] Sterilization experiments were carried out on a large scale at several camps by a variety of means on both men and women; for, as an SS physician, Dr. Adolf Pokorny, wrote Himmler on one occasion, “the enemy must be not only conquered but exterminated.” If he could not be slaughtered - and the need for slave labor toward the end of the war made that practice questionable, as we have seen - then he could be prevented from propagating. In fact Dr. Pokorny told Himmler he thought he had found just the right means, the plant Caladium seguinum , which, he said, induced lasting sterility.

The thought alone [the good doctor wrote the SS Führer] that the three million Bolsheviks now in German captivity could be sterilized, so that they would be available for work but precluded from propagation, opens up the most far-reaching perspectives.


It was this Dr. Sigmund Rascher who seems to have been responsible for the more sadistic of the medical experiments in the first place This horrible quack had attracted the attention of Himmler, among whose obsessions was the breeding of more and more superior Nordic offspring, through reports in SS circles that Frau Rascher had given birth to four children after passing the age of forty-eight, although in truth the Rashers had simply kidnapped them at suitable intervals from an orphanage.
In the spring of 1941, Dr. Rascher, who was attending a special medical course at Munich given by the Luftwaffe, had a brain storm. On May 15, 1941 he wrote Himmler about it. He had found to his horror that research on the effect of high altitudes on flyers was still at a standstill because “no tests with human material had yet been possible as such experiments are very dangerous and nobody volunteers for them.”

Can you make available two or three professional criminals for these experiments ... The experiments, by which the subjects can of course die, would take place with my co-operation.[my emphasis]

The SS Führer replied within a week that “prisoners will, of course, be made available gladly for the high-flight research.”
They were, and Dr. Rascher went to work. The results may be seen from his own reports and from those of others, which showed up at Nuremberg and at the subsequent trial of the SS doctors.
Dr. Rascher’s own findings are a model of scientific jargon. For the high-altitude tests he moved the Air Force’s decompression chamber at Munich to the nearby Dachau concentration camp where human guinea pigs were readily available. Air was pumped out of the contraption so that the oxygen and air pressure at high altitudes could be simulated. Dr. Rascher then made his observations, of which the following one is typical.

The third test was without oxygen at the equivalent of 29,400 feet altitude conducted on a 37-year old Jew in good general condition. Respiration continued for 30 minutes. After four minutes the TP [test person] began to perspire and roll his head.
After five minutes spasms appeared; between the sixth and tenth minute respiration increased in frequency, the TP losing consciousness. From the eleventh to the thirtieth minute respiration slowed down to three inhalations per minute, only to cease entirely at the end of that period. ... About half an hour after breathing had ceased, an autopsy was begun.

An Austrian inmate, Anton Pacholegg, who worked in Dr, Rascher’s office, has described the “experiments” less scientifically.

I have personally seen through the observation window of the decompression chamber when a prisoner inside would stand a vacuum until his lungs ruptured. They would go mad and pull out their hair in an effort to relieve the pressure. They would tear their heads and face with their fingers and nails in an attempt to maim themselves in their madness. They would beat the walls with their hands and head and scream in an effort to relieve pressure on their eardrums. These cases usually ended in the death of the subject.[my emphasis]

Some two hundred prisoners were subjected to this experiment before Dr. Rascher was finished with it. Of these, according to the testimony at the”Doctor’s Trial”, about eighty were killed outright and the remained executed somewhat later so that no tales would be told.
This particular research project was finished in May 1942, at which time Field Marshal Erhard Milch of the Luftwaffe conveyed Göring’s “thanks” to Himmler for Rascher’s pioneer experiments. A little later, on October 10, 1942, Lieutenant General Dr. Hippke, Medical Inspector of the Air Force, tendered to Himmler “in the name of the German aviation medicine and research” his “obedient gratitude” for “the Dachau experiments.” However, he thought, there was one omission in them. They had not taken in to account the extreme cold which an aviator faces at high altitudes. To rectify this omission the Luftwaffe, he informed Himmler, was building a decompression chamber “equipped with full refrigeration and with a normal altitude of 100,000 feet. Freezing experiments,” he added, “along different lines are still under way at Dachau.”
Indeed they were. And again Rascher was in the vanguard. But some of his doctor colleagues were having qualms. Was it Christian to do what Rascher was doing? Apparently a few German Luftwaffe medics were beginning to have their doubts. When Himmler heard of this he was infuriated and promptly wrote Field Marshal Milch protesting about the difficulties caused by “Christian medical circles” in the Air Force. He begged the Luftwaffe Chief of Staff to release Rascher from the Air Force medical corps so that he could be transferred to the SS. He suggested that they find a “non-Christian physician, who should be honorable as a scientist,” to pass on Dr. Rascher’s valuable works. In the meantime Himmler emphasized that he personally assumed the responsibility for supplying asocial individuals and criminals who deserve only to die from concentration camps for these experiments.

Dr. Rascher’s “freezing experiments” were of two kinds: first, to see how much cold a human being could endure befroe he died; and second, to find the best way of re-warming a person who still lived after being exposed to extreme cold. Two methods were selected to freeze a man: dumping him into a tank of ice water or leaving him out in the snow, completely naked, overnight during winter. Rascher’s reports to Himmler on his “freezing” and “warming” experiments are voluminous; an example or two will give the tenor. One of the earliest ones was made on September 10, 1942.

The TPs were immersed in water in full flying uniform ... with hood. A life jacket prevented sinking. The experiments were conducted at temperatures between 36.5 and 53.5 degrees Fahrenheit. In the first test series the back of the head and the brain stem were above water. In another series the back of the neck and cerebellum were submerged. Temperatures as low as 79.5 in the stomach and 79.7 in the rectum were recorded electrically. Fatalities occurred only when the medulla and the cerebellum were chilled.
In autopsies of such fatalities large quantities of free blood, up to a pint, were always found in the cranial cavity. The heart regularly showed extreme distention of the right chamber. The TPs in such tests inevitably died when body temperature had declined to 82.5, despite all rescue attempts. The autopsy findings plainly prove the importance of a heated head and neck protector for the foam suit now in the process of development.

A table which Dr. Rascher appended covers six “Fatal Cases” and shows the water temperatures, body temperature on removal from water, body temperature at death, the length of stay in the water and the time it took the patient to die. The toughest man endued on the ice water for one hundred minutes, the weakest for fifty-three minutes.
Walter Neff, a camp inmate who served as Dr. Rascher’s medical orderly, furnished the “Doctor’s Trial” with a layman’s description of one water-freezing test.

It was the worst experiment ever made. Two Russian officers were brought from the prison barracks. Rascher had them stripped and they had to go into the vat naked. Hour after hour went by, and whereas usually unconsciousness from the cold set in after sixty minutes at the latest, the two men in this case still responded fully after two and a half hours. All appeals to Rasher to put them to sleep by injection were fruitless. About the third hour one of the Russians said to the other, ‘Comrade, please tell the offices to shoot us.’ The other replied that he expected no mercy from this Fascist dog. The two shook hands with a ‘Farewell, Comrade’ ... These words were translated to Rascher by a young Pole, though in a somewhat different form. Rascher went to his office. The young Pole at once tried to chloroform the two victims, but Rascher came back at once, threatening us with his gun. The test lasted at least five hours before death supervened.

The nominal “chief” of the initial cold-water experiments was a certain Dr. Holzloehner, Professor of Medicine at the University of Kiel, assisted by a Dr. Finke, and after working with Rascher for a couple of months they believed they had exhausted the experimental possibilities. The three physicians thereupon drew up a thirty-two page top-secret report to the Air Force entitled “Freezing Experiments with Human Beings” and called a meeting of German scientists at Nuremberg for October 26-27, 1942, to hear and discuss their findings. The subject of the meeting was “Medical Questions in Marine and Water Emergencies.” According to the testimony at the “Doctors’ Trial’, ninety-five German scientists, including some of the most eminent men in the field, participated, and though the three doctors left no doubt that a good many human beings had been done to death in the experiments there were no questions made as to this and no protests therefore made.
Professor Holzloehner [Footnote: Professor Hoçlzloehner may have had a guilty conscience. Picked up by the British he committed suicide after his first interrogation]and Dr. Finke bowed out of the experiments at this time but the persevering Dr. Rascher carried on alone from October 1942 until May of the following year. He wanted, among other things, to pursue experiments in what he called “dry freezing.” Auschwitz, he wrote to Himmler, is much better suited for such tests than Dachau because it is colder there and because the size of the grounds causes less of a stir in the camps (The test persons yell when they freeze.)[my emphasis]

For some reason the change of locality could not be arranged, so Dr. Rascher went ahead with his studies at Dachau, praying for some real winter weather.

Thank God, we have had another intense cold snap at Dachau [he wrote Himmler in the early spring of 1943]. Some people remained out in the open for 14 hours at 21 degrees, attaining an interior temperature of 77 degrees, with peripheral frostbite ...

At the “Doctor’s Trial” the witness Neff again provided a layman’s description if the “dry-freezing” experiments of his chief.

A prisoner was placed naked on a stretcher outside the barracks in the evening. He was covered with a sheet, and every hour a bucket of cold water was poured over him. The test person lay out in the open like this into the morning. Their temperatures were taken.
Later Dr. Rascher said it was a mistake to cover the subject with a sheet and to drench him with water ... In the future the test persons must not be covered. The next experiment was on ten prisoners who were exposed in turn, likewise naked.

As the prisoners slowly froze, Dr. Rascher or his assistant would record temperatures, heart action, respiration and so on. The cries of the suffering often rent the night.

Initially [Neff explained to the court] Rauff forbade these tests to be made in a state of anesthesia. But the test persons made such a racket that it was impossible for Rascher to continue these tests without anesthetic.[my emphasis]

The TPs (test persons) were left to die, as Himmler said they deserved to, in the ice-water tanks or lying naked on the ground outside the barracks at Dachau on a winter evening. If they survived they were shortly exterminated. But the brave German flyers and sailors, for whose benefit the experiments were ostensibly made, and who might find themselves ditched in the icy waters of the Artic Ocean or marooned in some frozen waste above the Arctic Circle in Norway, Finland or Northern Russia, had to be saved if possible. The inimitable Dr. Rascher therefore took to performing on his human guinea pigs at Dachau what he termed “warming experiments”. What was the best method, he wanted to know, for warming a frozen man and thus possibly saving his life?
Heinrich Himmler, never backward in offering “practical” solutions to his corps of busy scientists, suggested to Rascher that warming by “animal heat” be tried, but at first the doctor did not think much of the idea. “Warming by animal heat - the bodies of animals or women - is much too slow,” he wrote the SS chief. But Himmler kept after him.

I am very curious [he wrote Rascher] about the experiments with animal heat. Personally I believe these experiments may bring the best and the most sustained results.

Though skeptical, Dr. Rasher was not the man to ignore a suggestion from the leader of the SS. He promptly embarked on a series of the most grotesque “experiments” of all, recording them for posterity in every morbid detail. Four inmates from the women’s concentration camps at Ravensbrück were sent to him at Dachau. However there was something about one of them - they were classified as prostitutes - that disturbed the doctor and he so reported to his superiors.

One of the women assigned showed impeccably Nordic racial characteristics ... I asked the girl why she had volunteered for brothel service and she replied “To get out of the concentration camp.” When I objected that it was shameful to volunteer as a brothel girl, I was advised, “Better half a year in a brothel than half a year in the concentration camp ...”
My racial conscience is outraged by the prospect of exposing to racially inferior concentration camp elements a girl who is outwardly pure Nordic ... For this reason I decline to use this girl for my experimental purposes.

But he used others, whose hair was less fair and the eyes less blue. His findings were duly reported to Himmler in a report marked “Secret” on February 12, 1942.

The test persons were chilled in the familiar way - dressed or undressed - in cold water at various temperatures. ... Removal from the water took place at a rectal temperature of 86 degrees.
In eight cases the test persons were placed between two naked women on a wide bed. The women were instructed to snuggle up to the chilled person as closely as possible. The three persons were then covered with blankets.
Once the test persons regained consciousness, they never lost it again, quickly grasping the situation and nestling close to the naked bodies of the women. The rise of body temperature then proceeded at approximately the same speed as with test persons warmed by being swathed in blankets. An exception was formed by four test persons who practiced sexual intercourse between 86 and 89.5 degrees. In these persons, after coitus, a very swift temperature rise ensued, comparable to that achieved by means of a hot-water bath.

Dr. Rascher found, somewhat to his surprise, that one woman warmed a frozen man faster than two women.

I attribute this to the fact that in warming by means of one woman personal inhibitions are avoided and the woman clings more closely to the chilled person. Here, too, return of full consciousness was notably rapid. In the case of only one person did consciousness fail to return and only a slight degree of warming was recorded. This test person died with symptoms of a brain hemorrhage, later confirmed by autopsy.

Summing up, this murderous hack concluded that warming up a “chilled” man with women “proceeds very slowly” and that hot baths were more efficacious.

Only test persons [he concluded] whose physical state permitted sexual intercourse warmed up surprisingly fast and also showed a surprisingly rapid return to full bodily well-being.

According to the testimony at the “Doctors’ Trial” some four hundred “freezing” experiments were performed on three hundred persons of whom between eighty and ninety died as a result thereof, and the rest, except for a few, were bumped off subsequently, some of them having been driven insane.[my emphasis] Dr. Rascher himself, incidentally, was not around to testify at this trial. He continued his bloody labors on various new projects, too numerous to mention, until May 1944, when he and his wife were arrested by the SS - not for his murderous “experiments”, as it seems, but on the charge that he and his wife had practiced deceit about how their children came into the world. Such treachery Himmler, with his worship of German mothers, could not brook - he had sincerely believed that Frau Rascher had begun to bear three children at the age of forty-eight and he was outraged when he learned that she had kidnapped them. So Dr. Rascher was incarcerated in the political bunker at his familiar Dachau camp and his wife was carted off to Ravensbrück, from which the doctor had procured his prostitutes for the “warming” tests. Neither survived, and it is believed that Himmler himself, in one of the last acts of his life, ordered their execution. They might have made awkward witnesses.
A number of such awkward witnesses did survive to stand trial. Seven of them were condemned to death and hanged, defending their lethal experiments to the last as patriotic acts which served the Fatherland. Dr. Herta Oberheuser, the only woman defendant at the “Doctors’ Trial”, was given twenty years. She had admitted giving lethal injections to “five or six” Polish women among the hundreds who suffered the tortures of the damned in a variety of “experiments” at Ravenbrück. A number of doctors, such as the notorious Pokorny, who had wanted to sterilize millions of the enemy, were acquitted. A few were contrite. At a second trial of medical underlings Dr. Edwin Katzenellenbogen, a former member of the faculty of the Harvard Medical School, asked the court for his death sentence. “You have place the mark of Cain on my forehead,” he exclaimed. “Any physician who committed the crimes I am charged with deserves to be killed.” He was given life imprisonment.[my emphasis]

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Post by Highplainsdrifter » 08 Jun 2003 02:15

I really enjoyed that book though I found it to be a tad bit biased, typically I like the more informative books written in a non biased nomenclature. But Roberto does present a interesting point, even without taking sides.

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