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appeared to him the most simple an undressed person in such a manthing: he placed the subjects of the ner, whereas a man in full aviator's experiment under water and dis dress took six or seven hours to kill. sected them while the heart was still Obviously, Rascher dressed up his beating, demonstrating air embolism findings to forestall criticism, alin the blood vessels of the heart, though any scientific man should liver, chest wall and brain.
have known that during actual exAnother part of Dr. Rascher's re posure many other factors, includsearch, carried out in collaboration ing greater convection of heat due to with Holzloehner and Finke, con the motion of water, would affect the cerned shock from exposure to cold.18 time of survival. It was known that military person Another series of experiments nel generally did not survive immer gave results that might have been sion in the North Sea for more than an important medical contribution if sixty to a hundred minutes. Rascher an important lead had not been therefore attempted to duplicate ignored. The efficacy of various vacthese conditions at Dachau concen cines and drugs against typhus was tration camp and used about 300 tested at the Buchenwald and Natzprisoners in experiments on shock weiler concentration camps. Prefrom exposure to cold; of these 80 vaccinated persons and non-vaccior 90 were killed. (The figures do nated controls were injected with not include persons killed during live typhus rickettsias, and the death mass experiments on exposure to rates of the two series compared. cold outdoors.) In one report on
After a certain number of passages, this work Rascher asked permission the Matelska strain of typhus ricto shift these experiments from kettsia proved to become avirulent Dachau to Auschwitz, a larger camp
for man. Instead of seizing upon where they might cause less disturb this as a possibility to develop a live ance because the subjects shrieked vaccine, the experimenters, includfrom pain when their extremities ing the chief consultant, Professor froze white. The results, like so Gerhard Rose, who should have many of those obtained in the Nazi known better, were merely annoyed research program, are not depend at the fact that the controls did not able. In his report Rascher stated die either, discarded this strain and that it took from fifty-three to a continued testing their relatively inhundred minutes to kill a human effective dead vaccines against a new being by immersion in ice water virulent strain. This incident shows time closely in agreement with the that the basic unconscious motivaknown survival period in the North tion and attitude has a great influSea. Inspection of his own experi ence in determining the scientist's mental records and statements made awareness of the phenomena that to me by his close associates showed pass through his vision. that it actually took from eighty Sometimes human subjects were minutes to five or six hours to kill used for tests that were totally un
necessary, or whose results could have been predicted by simple chemical experiments. For example, 90 gypsies were given unaltered sea water and sea water whose taste was camouflaged as their sole source of fluid, apparently to test the wellknown fact that such hypertonic saline solutions given as the only source of supply of fluid will cause severe physical disturbance or death within six to twelve days. These persons were subjected to the tortures of the damned, with death resulting in at least two cases.
Heteroplastic transplantation experiments were carried out by Professor Dr. Karl Gebhardt at Himmler's suggestion. Whole limbsshoulder, arm or leg—were amputated from live prisoners at Ravensbrueck concentration camp, wrapped in sterile moist dressings and sent by automobile to the SS hospital at Hohenlychen, where Professor Gebhardt busied himself with a futile attempt at heteroplastic transplantation. In the meantime the prisoners deprived of a limb were usually killed by lethal injection.
One would not be dealing with German science if one did not run into manifestations of the collector's spirit. By February, 1942, it was assumed in German scientific circles that the Jewish race was about to be completely exterminated, and alarm was expressed over the fact that only very few specimens of skulls and skeletons of Jews were at the disposal of science. It was therefore proposed that a collection of 150 body casts and skeletons of Jews be preserved for perusal by future
students of anthropology. Dr. August Hirt, professor of anatomy at the University of Strassburg, declared himself interested in establishing such a collection at his anatomic institute. He suggested that captured Jewish officers of the Russian armed forces be included, as well as females from Auschwitz concentration camp; that they be brought alive to Natzweiler concentration camp near Strassburg; and that after "their subsequently induced death-care should be taken that the heads not be damaged [sic]” the bodies be turned over to him at the anatomic institute of the University of Strassburg. This was done. The entire collection of bodies and the correspondence pertaining to it fell into the hands of the United States Army.
One of the most revolting experiments was the testing of sulfonamides against gas gangrene by Professor Gebhardt and his collaborators, for which young women captured from the Polish Resistance Movement served as subjects. Necrosis was produced in a muscle of the leg by ligation and the wound was infected with various types of gas-gangrene bacilli; frequently, dirt, pieces of wood and glass splinters were added to the wound. Some of these victims died, and others sustained severe mutilating deformities of the leg.
An important feature of the experiments performed in concentration camps is the fact that they not only represented a ruthless and cal
lous pursuit of legitimate scientific of Munich because he was suspected
These cases illustrated a method
consciously and methodically used in hardt lend themselves to such ex
the SS, an age-old method used by periments? The reasons are fairly criminal gangs everywhere: that of simple and practical, no surprise to making suspects of disloyalty clear anyone familiar with the evidence
themselves by participation in a of fear, hostility, suspicion, rivalry crime that would definitely and irand intrigue, the fratricidal struggle revocably tie them to the organizaeuphemistically termed the "self
tion. In the SS this process of reinselection of leaders,” that went on forcement of group cohesion was within the ranks of the ruling Nazi called "Blutkitt" (blood-cement), a party and the SS. The answer was term that Hitler himself is said to fairly simple and logical. Dr. Geb
have obtained from a book on Genhardt performed these experiments ghis Khan in which this technic to clear himself of the suspicion that
was emphasized. he had been contributing to the
The important lesson here is that death of SS General Reinhard (“The
this motivation, with which one is Hangman") Heydrich, either neg
familiar in ordinary crimes, applies ligently or deliberately, by failing to
also to war crimes and to ideologitreat his wound infection with sul
cally conditioned crimes against hufonamides. After Heydrich died
manity-namely, that fear and cowfrom gas gangrene, Himmler him
ardice, especially fear of punishment self told Dr. Gebhardt that the only
or of ostracism by the group, are way in which he could prove that
often more important motives than Heydrich’s death was “fate deter- simple ferocity or aggressiveness. mined" was by carrying out “large-scale experiment” in prison- The early change in ers, which would prove or disprove
medical attitudes that people died from gas gangrene irrespective of whether they were Whatever proportions these crimes treated with sulfonamides or not. finally assumed, it became evident to
Dr. Sigmund Rascher did not be all who investigated them that they come the notorious vivisectionist of had started from small beginnings. Dachau concentration camp and the The beginnings at first were merely willing tool of Himmler's research a subtle shift in emphasis in the interests until he had been forbid basic attitude of the physicians. It den to use the facilities of the Path started with the acceptance of the ological Institute of the University attitude, basic in the euthanasia
movement, that there is such a thing incurably sick described above. Simas life not worthy to be lived. This ilar, even more subtle efforts were attitude in its early stages con made in some of the occupied councerned itself merely with the severe tries. It is to the everlasting honor ly and chronically sick. Gradually of the medical profession of Holland the sphere of those to be included that they recognized the earliest and in this category was enlarged to most subtle phases of this attempt encompass the socially unproduc and rejected it. When Seiss-Inquart, tive, the ideologically unwanted, the Reich Commissar for the Occupied racially unwanted and finally all Netherlands Territories, wanted to non-Germans. But it is important draw the Dutch physicians into the to realize that the infinitely small orbit of the activities of the German wedged-in lever from which this en medical profession, he did not tell tire trend of mind received its im them “You must send your chronic petus was the attitude toward the patients to death factories" or "You non rehabilitable sick.
must give lethal injections at GovIt is, therefore, this subtle shift ernment request in your offices,” but in emphasis of the physicians' atti he couched his order in most careful tude that one must thoroughly in and superficially acceptable terms. vestigate. It is a recent significant One of the paragraphs in the order trend in medicine, including psychia of the Reich Commissar of the Nethtry, to regard prevention as more im erlands Territories concerning the portant than cure. Observation and Netherlands doctors of 19 December recognition of early signs and symp 1941 reads as follows: toms have become the basis for prevention of further advance of dis
It is the duty of the doctor, ease. 8
through advice and effort, conIn looking for these early signs scientiously and to his best abilone may well retrace the early steps ity, to assist as helper the person of propaganda on the part of the entrusted to his care in the mainNazis in Germany as well as in the tenance, improvement, and re-escountries that they overran and in tablishment of his vitality, physiwhich they attempted to gain sup cal efficiency and health. The acporters by means of indoctrination, complishment of this duty is a seduction and propaganda.
public task."16 The example of successful
The physicians of Holland rejected resistance by the
this order unanimously because they physicians of the Netherlands
saw what it actually meant_namely, There is no doubt that in Ger the concentration of their efforts on many itself the first and most effec mere rehabilitation of the sick for tive step of propaganda within the useful labor, and abolition of medimedical profession was the propa cal secrecy. Although on the surganda barrage against the useless, face the new order appeared not too
grossly unacceptable, the Dutch phy- danger signs that American physisicians decided that it is the first, cians have also been infected with although slight, step away from Hegelian, cold blooded,
, utilitarian principle that is the most important philosophy and whether early traces one. The Dutch physicians declared of it can be detected in their medithat they would not obey this order. cal thinking that may make them When Seiss-Inquart threatened them vulnerable to departures of the type with revocation of their licenses, that occurred in Germany. Basic they returned their licenses, re attitudes must be examined dispasmoved their shingles and, while see sionately. The original concept of ing their own patients secretly, no medicine and nursing was not based longer wrote death or birth certifi on any rational or feasible likelihood cates. Seiss-Inquart retraced his that they could actually cure and steps and tried to cajole them-still restore but rather on an essentially to no effect. Then he arrested 100 maternal or religious idea. The Good Dutch physicians and sent them to Samaritan had no thought of nor concentration camps.
The medical did he actually care whether he profession remained adamant and could restore working capacity. He quietly took care of their widows was merely motivated by the comand orphans, but would not give in. passion in alleviating suffering. BerThus it came about that not a single nal17 states that prior to the advent euthanasia or non-therapeutic steril of scientific medicine, the physician's ization was recommended or partici main function was to give hope to pated in by any Dutch physician. the patient and to relieve his relaThey had the foresight to resist be tives of responsibility. Gradually, in fore the first step was taken, and all civilized countries, medicine has they acted unanimously and won out moved away from this position, in the end. It is obvious that if the strangely enough in direct propormedical profession of a small nation tion to man's actual ability to perunder the conqueror's heel could form feats that would have been resist so effectively the German med plain miracles in days of old. Howical profession could likewise have ever, with this increased efficiency resisted had they not taken the fatal based on scientific development went first step. It is the first seemingly a subtle change in attitude. Physiinnocent step away from principle cians have become dangerously close that frequently decides a career of to being mere technicians of rehacrime. Corrosion begins in micro bilitation. This essentially Hegelian scopic proportions.
rational attitude has led them to
make certain distinctions in the The situation in the
handling of acute and chronic disUnited States
eases. The patient with the latter
carries an obvious stigma as the The question that this fact one less likely to be fully rehabiliprompts is whether there are any
table for social usefulness. In an