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Everett Simkins

A1 Deane

Legacies

5/9/17

Holocaust Topic Inquiry:

Nazi Medical Experimentation

The topic of Nazi Medical experimentation is just as it sounds; the process in which Nazi

Germany systematically drew prisoners from concentration camps and used them for various,

and almost always perilous, medical experimentation. These experiments carry no relation to

medical experiments conducted today. They were not voluntary, prisoners from concentration

camps were simply selected and used for experimentation, oftentimes upon entering a

concentration camp. No efforts were made to make these experiments painless, no anesthesia or

pain relief, there was never a focus on comfort for the person being subjected to the

experimentation. Most of the time, tests were centered around the perception of pain itself. The

people who had to suffer through this experimentation either were sparingly allowed to live with

their injury or mutilated body, but many, if they were still alive, were murdered even if the

orders were to keep them alive. The Nazi doctors and commanders considered it a gift to allow

the these people subjected to brutal unnecessary treatment, to live if they survived.
The doctors believed that these humans that they were testing, and mutilating, and

prodding were less than human, that of a lab rat. I only intend to touch on just a couple of the

awful things these people were subjected to.

Limb transplantation. The Nazi experimenters wondered if it was possible to transplant

limbs or muscle tissue from one person to another. A prisoner would be subjected to conscious

amputations of a limbs, and or a conscious joinment of another limb. They had people that

would be considered “donators”, they would be sacrificed just for the value of their legs, feet,

arms, head, whatever it may be. Those limbs, were sorted, and binned in a way that is just absurd

to us now, but was normal practice in these experiments..
On top of that example, here were some of the other medical experiments conducted during this

time:

● High Altitude Testing: Prisoners were subjected to extreme changes in altitude in

mobile chambers in order to test the effects of altitude on people, the findings were

intended to be used for the military. Subjects who did not die, were killed.
● Freezing/Cold Environments: Nazi soldiers were dying in the extreme cold

climates where the war was waging. Doctors subjected prisoners to freezing conditions,

ice baths, freezers, etc in order to test different methods of warming somebody on the

brink of death up. Almost all subjects died, they were weak as it was before the

experiments.
● Drugs/Medications: The Nazi doctors subjected prisoners to forms of inflicted

pain or wounds in order to test potential battlefield drugs. One or the other, the drug or

the inflicted wound was torturous in pain and it’s effects.
● Sterilization: Prisoners, men and women, were sterilized in order to prevent them

from breeding into the distilled aryan race. Men were castrated, woman were brutally

removed of their reproductive capability. They suffered extreme pain, and anguish as a

result.

My Reaction:
I suppose this is one of those moments when you’re researching a topic and what you are

reading is so appalling and fascinating that I struggle to note “what is important” because I can’t

help but feel that every detail I read about someone’s life in the medical experiments, is

important.

It is incredible to think that a person who takes themselves as a person who is trained

with the knowledge to help people, doctors, committed such atrocities under the Nazi regime.

They were so convinced that what they were doing was right, either for the Aryan race or

because it protected themselves and their family. I think this is one of the main examples in the

history of the Holocaust that represents human tendencies to obey strong authority. The fact that

the majority of people never did anything to challenge the events and actions taking place

exemplifies how people in power take advantage of our fears, and our instinct.

In short, my reaction is, wow, people let others prey on their fears and by that convent,

they prayed on others fears. How do we stop that from happening, what power does a minority

have over a hateful majority?

Citations:
"Holocaust On Trial." PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, Oct. 2000. Web. 07 May 2017.

<http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/holocaust/experiside.html>.

"Nazi Medical Experiments." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust

Memorial Museum, n.d. Web. 07 May 2017. <https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?

ModuleId=10005168>.

Images:

Bryan, Allie. "The Life of Josef Mengele." 2015. N.p., 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 07 May 2017.

<http://holocaustprojectab.blogspot.com/2015/>.