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Nazi Medical Experiments During the Holocaust Term Paper


Analysis of Primary Sources

Testimonies of Jewish Victims of Nazi Medical Experiments conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. From . Web.

The date of production for this article is not indicated. However, it is updated frequently depending on the information obtained from different victims of Nazi medical experiments. The information is usually produced by the Conference on Jewish Claims Against Germany. It gives a detailed analysis of the major atrocities and experiments conducted by different Nazi doctors. It used personal testimonies and evidences to deliver the intended information. The purpose of the message is to ensure more people understand the pains encountered by many victims of the Holocaust. This source provides useful information regarding the atrocities, experiments, and goals of the Nazi regime.

” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Web.

This source gives a detailed analysis of The Medical Case during the Nuremberg Trials. The source was produced between 1945 and 1946. The information is retained and maintained by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The information is also produced and availed to more people by the museum. This source indicates clearly that most of the experiments by the Nazis were inhumane. It uses primary evidence from witnesses to deliver accurate information. The source is relevant to understanding the major issues associated with various Nazi medical experiments.

” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Web.

This source gives a critical analysis of the major testimonies presented by many victims during the Nuremberg Trials. The information is maintained by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The provided information is available to many visitors to the website. According to the testimonies, most of the experiments conducted by the Nazi regime were inhumane and painful. The documented testimonies are used to make the information meaningful to the viewer. Readers can use the source to understand some of the major issues associated with various Nazi medical experiments.

” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Web.

The events detailed in this source took place after the First World War in 1946. The video was taken during the Nuremberg Trials and is maintained by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It shows the verdict announced in one of the medical cases. According to the source, the experiments conducted by the Germans were unethical, inhumane, and unprofessional. The verdict is used to represent such atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. This source is therefore meaningful towards analyzing and denouncing the medical experiments undertaken during the days of the Third Reich.

“Nazi Medical Experiments — Photograph.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Web.

This 1946 photograph details the pains encountered by many victims during the holocaust. The photograph shows a person in a compression chamber. The prisoner must have died after losing consciousness. The experiment was being undertaken to determine the specific altitudes at which crews could surviving without the use of oxygen. This photograph is maintained and produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The photograph is used to deliver primary information to the reader. The source is relevant to understanding the heinous experiments conducted by the Nazi regime.

” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Web.

This source was produced in 1944. The photograph shows a Gypsy victim undergoing a Nazi medical experiment in an attempt to make seawater potable. Although the source is unknown, the photograph is preserved and shared by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It gives a detailed analysis of the deadly experiments conducted from 1940 to 1945. The source can be used to understand most of the evil deeds committed during the Nazi regime.

Medical Experiments of the Holocaust

Introduction

The common opinion held by scholars and historians is that the Holocaust was one of the greatest insults to human freedom1. Many people belonging to different racial groups were murdered during the period of the Holocaust. Millions of lives were destroyed thus changing the world forever. One of the notorieties of the Third Reich surrounded the medical experiments conducted by different Nazi doctors. For centuries, the medical profession had been revered because of its ability to save lives and support the health needs of many societies. Unfortunately, the Nazi regime violated the confidence and trust that had been placed in the profession for centuries.

The use of these researches for modern scientific studies is something that has resulted in numerous ethical dilemmas2. Different scholars and scientists have been divided regarding the use of various medical documents from such medical experiments. This discussion gives detailed analyses of the medical experiments of the Holocaust. The paper begins by identifying some of the major medical experiments pioneered by different Nazi doctors. The most notorious doctors and their respective goals have also been outlined in the paper. The ethical dilemma in using the ideas and knowledge gained from these medical experiments is also presented in the discussion.

Medical Experiments

Specific experiments conducted

The Third Reich provided abundant opportunities and resources that made it possible for different physicians to conduct gruesome experiments on prisoners in different concentration camps. Most of these deadly experiments were conducted without the knowledge or consent of the targeted subjects. Such unethical experiments were conducted by the Nazi regime to pursue various goals. The most astounding thing is that such experiments were supported by different Schutzstaffel (SS) leaders3. These suicidal experiments were conducted by various physicians who reported to such SS leaders. Most of these experiments revolved around genetics, drugs, sterilization, hyperthermia, and twins.

Genetic Experiments

The main goal of the Third Reich was to establish a pure race known as the Nordic or Aryan Race4. The regime wanted to have a pure race characterized by people with blonde hair and blue eyes. This goal forced the Nazi leaders to undertake numerous genetic researches to understand the major causes of defects. The other goal was to use the findings to refine the master (or Aryan) race5. One of these notorious physicians was Josef Mengele who conducted numerous genetic researches on Gypsies and twins. Twins were killed and their body organs eventually used for various genetic studies.

Drugs

The second category of experiments focused on different ways to test and develop drugs for various illnesses. Most of the experiments were aimed at producing better medicines for German soldiers in different fields. In various concentration camps such as Buchenwald, Dachau, and Sachsenhausen, Nazi physicians tested different compounds for treating diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, typhoid fever, and typhus6. Jews and other prisoners in such concentration camps were subjected to various medical compounds to establish their effectiveness. Another site known as Ravensbrueck Camp was specifically used to graft bones7. Most of these bone-grafting experiments were aimed at testing the effectiveness of newly-developed sulfanilamide drugs.

Hyperthermia

Different Nazi scientists executed a wide range of experiments to establish the potential treatment for various conditions such as hyperthermia. Numerous experiments were conducted on prisoners to find out new methods that can be used to make seawater potable 8.

Parachuting

The Nazis also conducted various experiments to determine the maximum altitude for parachuting to safety. The German Experimental Institution for Aviation (GEIA) used low-pressure chambers to conduct such high-attitude experiments to achieve this goal. The main objective was to ensure German soldiers were aware of the maximum altitude to parachute to safety from damaged crafts9.

Sterilization

Several experiments were also conducted to advance the regime’s goals of an Aryan race. Sterilization experiments were undertaken at Ravenbrueck and Auschwitz by different Nazi doctors. The doctors tested a wide range of methods in an attempt to develop cheaper and reliable methods for sterilizing different races such as the Jews, Gypsies, and other inferior groups10. According to the Third Reich leaders, such races possessed genetically inappropriate and undesirable traits.

Goals of the experiments

Furthering Third Reich’s goals

As mentioned earlier, most of these human experiments were conducted to further the Third Reich’s goals. To begin with, the regime wanted to get rid of different races that were believed to be inferior. The Nazis wanted to establish a pure and superior race. Various sterilization experiments were therefore undertaken to achieve this goal. The mass sterilization of different races would result in a single superior race11. Adolf Hitler, the dictator of the Third Reich, was ready to establish the inferiority and inappropriateness of the Jews in the society. Most of the medical experiments and researches at Strasbourg University were aimed at supporting the idea that the Jewish race was inferior. Similar experiments conducted at Auschwitz were intended to understand how various races reacted to several contagious illnesses.

Supporting the military

Historians also believe that Adolf Hitler wanted to win the Second World II. To achieve this goal, helpful measures were critical towards supporting every German soldier. The experiments were therefore used to develop and test the effectiveness of various drugs for diseases such as typhus and tuberculosis12. Most of these contagious diseases affected the superiority and performance of the German military. Parachuting experiments were also conducted to offer useful data to the military.

Advances in science

Many historians and researchers believe strongly that most of the experiments conducted during the Nazi regime were unscientific. It is also agreeable that the data is unethical. However, the researches and experiments conducted by these scientists presented new ideas that can be used in the advancement of modern science. Most of the ideas and lessons learned from these experiments have the potential to support the needs of more societies and even save lives13. Most of the issues and advances observed during the Nazi regime have therefore led to new developments in science. The important thing is that scholars and scientists should use the information to pursue new scientific targets. However, they should do so without subjecting human beings to unnecessary torture. Despite the ethical issues surrounding these experiments, the medical advancements of the Nazis have been observed to deliver numerous benefits to the world of science.

Doctors

Doctors during the holocaust and their goals

German doctors and physicians conducted numerous medical experiments that violated every aspect of medical ethics. Most of these doctors conducted unethical medical experiments in an attempt to pursue the goals of the regime. The first doctor was named Carl Clauberg. His main goal was to come up with non-surgical methods of mass sterilization. Some of the physician’s experiments included the introduction of chemical irritants into the genitals of women14. Most of the experiments led to the death of the targeted subjects.

Josef Mengele

Nicknamed the Angel of Death, Josef Mengele performed numerous experiments that led to the discovery of water cancer. His initial experiments were conducted to understand the pathology and physiology of water cancer15. He also conducted various experiments on twins and people with various physical disabilities. He also performed comparative analyses of various body organs16. These studies were conducted to understand the potential causes of various human disabilities including dwarfism.

Horst Schumman

Horst Schumman was another doctor who performed dangerous experiments. The main goal of such studies was to come up with new sterilization techniques that would ensure the Nazis destroyed the biological aspects of every conquered nation. The doctor exposed men’s testes and women’s ovaries to powerful X-rays17. The continued exposure to such rays produced burns on the buttocks, groins, and bellies of the subjects. The scientists eventually proved that surgical castration was the most appropriate and certain method for destroying the biological abilities of every single population.

Johann Kremer

Johann Paul Kremer was interested in the changes that take place during and after death. His study focused on the final hours before death. The doctor wanted to understand the behaviors of various organs during the process of dying. The other notorious doctors of the Nazi regime included August Hirt and Bruno Berger. These two scientists selected prisoners for their experiments. Berger collected the corpses of different prisoners who were murdered in the gas chambers and sent them to Hirt18. The skeletons from the corpses were used for different anthropological analyses. Most of the targeted prisoners were Jews and Poles. The main goal of these experiments was to demonstrate the strength and superiority of the Nordic race.

Victims

Groups of people

The Holocaust was a state-sponsored and systematic annihilation of approximately six million Jews19. After gaining power in 1933, the Nazis wanted to establish a society occupied by pure Germans only. According to these leaders, the Germans formed a superior race that faced numerous threats from various minority groups. For instance, the Jews were believed to be inferior. The Jews were also seen as a threat to the success and dominance of the Nordic community. This fact explains why the Jews were heavily targeted by the Nazis.

During the time of the Holocaust, the Germans also targeted several groups that were perceived to be inferior. The Roma (or the Gypsies) were also attacked and exterminated during the Holocaust. The Nazis also wanted to get rid of every disabled person in the society. Historical records have also proved that the Third Reich targeted the Slavic peoples. The Slavic peoples included the Russians and the Poles20. The regime used different approaches to persecute more groups based on various ideological, political, and behavioral arguments. The targeted groups included homosexuals, socialists, and communists21. These groups were also targeted for various medical experiments.

Targeted groups

Jews and the handicapped

From the very beginning, the Germans believed that the Jews were a major threat to the success of their society. That being the case, the Jews became the prime targets of the Third Reich’s racism. By 1945, over six million Jews had been killed by the Nazis. The agenda also targeted and killed almost 200,000 Gypsies. The other groups killed include the physically and mentally handicapped patients. The total number of such victims was around 200,00022. Such individuals were murdered using the infamous Euthanasia Program.

Soviets, political dissidents, and homosexuals

Throughout the early 1940s, Nazi tyranny was spread across the continent thus perpetuating great atrocities. The Nazis and their collaborators murdered very many citizens across the region. For instance, the Nazis killed over two million Soviets. Most of these Soviets were prisoners of war or captives. According to different historians, most of these individuals died of mistreatment, neglect, disease, or starvation. Many prisoners were required to do forced labor in different states occupied by the Nazis23. Most of these prisoners were forced to live in poor conditions. As well, the Nazis continued to kill various groups such as homosexuals, religious dissidents, and political opponents. Most of these groups were subjected to various inhumane experiments. The ultimate goal was to gather relevant data and information that could be used to further the concept of a master race in German.

Testimonies of tested subjects

The website “http://www.claimscon.org” presents various testimonies and statements from victims of the medical experiments conducted by the Nazis. One of the tested subjects indicated how different experiments were performed on her ovaries and uterus24. The subject also explained how her ovaries shrank after several experiments done by Dr. Hirsh. Another subject explained how SS German Shepherd dogs were allowed to bite people during such deadly experiments. Most of the victims faced numerous health problems and eventually died because of cancer.

Testimonies from different people have explained how the Nazis gave their subjects all sorts of medicine thus making them nauseous25. Most of the subjects became infertile and others deaf. Historical records also show clearly that majority of the tested subjects died shortly afterward thus being unable to narrate the facts of their ordeals.

During the Nuremberg Trials, several victims of the regime’s medical experiments narrated their stories about the atrocities faced during the period. One of these survivors was Jadwiga Dzido. Several medical procedures were inflicted on her in one of the Nazi’s concentration camps26. Some of the medical procedures included injections of highly potent bacteria27. Such dangerous experiments were performed by physicians such as Fritz Ernst Fischer and Herta Oberheuser. The other victim of the experiments conducted by the Nazis is Wladislava Karolewska. The Polish lady testified as a witness during the Nuremberg Trials in 1946.

Ethical dilemma in using knowledge gained from these experiments

The end of the Second World War led to new trials at Nuremberg to charge and prosecute individuals who had committed various crimes against humankind. The trials of various Nazi doctors exposed the atrocities conducted by different SS leaders and their accomplices. Many experts have argued that different Nazi doctors murdered in the name of medical research. However, modern medical professionals still believe that the move to condemn such doctors might be a complicated choice.

The biggest ethical issue arises when it comes to the use of the medical research obtained from the Nazi regime. Modern scholars have outlined useful medical literature from most of the experiments conducted by the Nazis. As well, some published works by different SS doctors have also been characterized by quality data. Scientists who plan to use this research have faced numerous social responsibility issues. The abuses observed in such research works have led to numerous questions28.

The biggest question has been whether modern scholars can use data extracted from these studies29. Some scholars have argued that such data should be censored. However, absolute censorship might not be the best decision. This might be the case when the information obtained from such studies is used to save lives. Every society should, therefore, consider the major benefits that might be obtained from these researches and medical experiments.

Scientists today argue that the best move is to ensure more people use this information while at the same time condemning the evils committed by the Nazi regime. It would be necessary to have a clear analysis and knowledge of the scientific value of this data. The available information should be aimed at promoting scientific studies that have the potential to improve the welfare of mankind. Once the data and information has been used, it would be appropriate for the author to condemn the horrors associated with the Third Reich. This approach will deliver a moral aberration in the world of medical science.

Whenever using data from various medical experiments conducted by the regime, the researcher should be ready to expose every immoral practice associated with it. Future medical scientists will be aware of the evils promoted by the Nazi doctors. This approach will ensure the beneficial aspects of the information are used to support human welfare30. At the same time, researchers will outline the evils associated with different Nazi doctors and ensure they are never replicated in the future.

With this kind of understanding, doctors can use the insights gained from such experiments to perform various surgical procedures. For instance, individuals close to death can donate specific body organs to various recipients. As well, the ideas gained from such experiments explain why future scientists should be ready to prevent suffering. Scientists should be sensitive to address the needs of different subjects. The data obtained from various experiments performed by the Nazis can play a crucial role in saving more lives31. However, societies should embrace the best strategies to ensure the information obtained from such experiments is used ethically.

Concluding Remarks

The medical experiments performed by different Nazi physicians explain why scientists should act ethically. Most of the doctors performed fatal experiments that affected the lives of the targeted subjects. Such experiments were also done without the approval of the targeted prisoners. Hitler’s dictatorial regime used such experiments to gather new data for improving its superiority. One of the targeted goals was the promotion of its racial agenda. As well, such experiments were undertaken to deliver new insights that could be used to empower the German military. Individuals who want to use various scientific findings from such experiments should, therefore, be ready to condemn the malpractices of the above physicians.

Bibliography

Baumslag, Naomi. Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005.

Caplan, Arthur. When Medicine Went Mad: Bioethics and the Holocaust. New York: Springer Shop, 2012.

Cohen, Baruch. “Jewish Virtual Library. 2016. Web.

Dyal, Elizabeth. “Nazi Medical Experimentation: Should the Data Obtained be Used.” Open SIUC 1 (2001): 1-22.

Personal Statements from Victims of Nazi Medical Experiments. “.” Web.

Spitz, Vivien. Doctors from Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans. Boulder: Sentient Publications, 2005.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Medical Case: US Prosecutor Details Illegal Experiments.” Web.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Nazi Medical Experiments — Photograph.” Web.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Nazi Medical Experiments — Photograph.” Web.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Verdict Announced in Medical Case.” Web.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Victims of Medical Experiments Testify during Medical Case.” Web.

Weindling, Paul. “Human Experiments and Nazi Genocide: A Problematic Legacy.” Review of Bioethics 1 (2007): 4-19.

Footnotes

  1. Naomi Baumslag, Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus (Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005), 82.
  2. Baruch Cohen, “Nazi Medical Experimentation: The Ethics of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments,” Jewish Virtual Library, 2016. Web.
  3. “Verdict Announced in Medical Case,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2016. Web.
  4. Vivien Spitz, Doctors from Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans (Boulder: Sentient Publications, 2005), 28.
  5. Arthur Caplan When Medicine Went Mad: Bioethics and the Holocaust (New York: Springer Shop, 2012), 36.
  6. Naomi Baumslag, Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus (Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005), 65.
  7. Vivien Spitz, Doctors from Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans (Boulder: Sentient Publications, 2005), 33.
  8. “Verdict Announced in Medical Case,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2016. Web.
  9. “Victims of Medical Experiments Testify during Medical Case,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2016. Web.
  10. Baruch Cohen, “Nazi Medical Experimentation: The Ethics of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments,” Jewish Virtual Library, 2016. Web.
  11. Naomi Baumslag, Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus (Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005), 89.
  12. Elizabeth Dyal, “Nazi Medical Experimentation: Should the Data Obtained be Used,” Open SIUC 1 (2001): 12.
  13. Arthur Caplan, When Medicine Went Mad: Bioethics and the Holocaust (New York: Springer Shop, 2012), 37.
  14. Caplan, Bioethics, 37.
  15. Baruch Cohen, “Nazi Medical Experimentation: The Ethics of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments,” Jewish Virtual Library, 2016. Web.
  16. “Nazi Medical Experiments — Photograph,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2016. Web.
  17. “Medical Case: US Prosecutor Details Illegal Experiments,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2016. Web.
  18. Naomi Baumslag, Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus (Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005), 56.
  19. Baumslag, Murderous Medicine, 12.
  20. Vivien Spitz, Doctors from Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans (Boulder: Sentient Publications, 2005), 19.
  21. Spitz, Doctors from Hell, 21.
  22. Paul Weindling, “Human Experiments and Nazi Genocide: A Problematic Legacy,” Review of Bioethics 1 (2007): 9.
  23. Naomi Baumslag, Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus (Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005), 89.
  24. “Victims of Medical Experiments Testify during Medical Case,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2016. Web.
  25. “Testimonies of Jewish Victims of Nazi Medical Experiments conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany,” Personal Statements from Victims of Nazi Medical Experiments. Web.
  26. “Nazi Medical Experiments — Photograph,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2016. Web.
  27. Vivien Spitz, Doctors from Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans (Boulder: Sentient Publications, 2005), 43.
  28. Baruch Cohen, “Nazi Medical Experimentation: The Ethics of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments,” Jewish Virtual Library, 2016. Web.
  29. Arthur Caplan, When Medicine Went Mad: Bioethics and the Holocaust (New York: Springer Shop, 2012), 36.
  30. Elizabeth Dyal, “Nazi Medical Experimentation: Should the Data Obtained be Used,” Open SIUC 1 (2001): 12.
  31. Paul Weindling, “Human Experiments and Nazi Genocide: A Problematic Legacy,” Review of Bioethics 1 (2007): 9.
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IvyPanda. (2020, July 21). Nazi Medical Experiments During the Holocaust. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/nazi-medical-experiments-during-the-holocaust/

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1. IvyPanda. "Nazi Medical Experiments During the Holocaust." July 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/nazi-medical-experiments-during-the-holocaust/.


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IvyPanda. "Nazi Medical Experiments During the Holocaust." July 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/nazi-medical-experiments-during-the-holocaust/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Nazi Medical Experiments During the Holocaust." July 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/nazi-medical-experiments-during-the-holocaust/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Nazi Medical Experiments During the Holocaust'. 21 July.

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