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Medicine and Murder in the Third Reich


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By William E. Seidelman

Introduction - Medical Professions and Nazism's Programs

The past few months have seen a number of revelations concerning hitherto-hidden secrets of the Holocaust: gold plundered from corpses; the corporate theft of life savings placed for safekeeping in Swiss banks; looted art displayed in distinguished galleries; and the expropriation by insurance companies of the unclaimed insurance policies of Holocaust victims. The beneficiaries -- prestigious banks, elite galleries, wealthy insurance companies -- are not the sort of institutions one ordinarily associates in any way with genocide.

There is another perturbing category of eminent exploiters. It includes illustrious universities, research institutes and, in one documented instance, an eminent museum -- whose quarry were the cadavers of Jewish and non-Jewish victims of Nazi terror. These macabre spoils of Nazi slaughter remained in these institutions' collections (anatomical, pathological and anthropological) for decades after the end of the war. More of this kind of grim booty is probably yet to be found in collections in Germany, Austria and other countries that were once part of the Third Reich. The specimens are tangible evidence of the role played by medicine and medical science in the crimes of the Nazi regime.

The medical professions of Germany and Austria, including academic medicine, played a critical role in the evolution of Nazism's programs of human destruction, programs that culminated in genocide and the exploitation of the dead. Nazi medical science, through the application of egregious eugenics (the study of heredity) and racial hygiene, created classes of inferior human beings. Individuals consigned to these classes were selected for enforced sterilization, medical killing (in the so-called euthanasia operations), and destruction in the death camps. Indeed, killing by gas chamber evolved from medicine.1-6 Academic medicine not only provided the "scientific" rationale that legitimized eugenic and racial selection, it also exploited human victims for inhuman research. By defining some human beings as "subhuman," Nazi medical science placed them in the category of "scientific specimens," without protection from German law (which defended animals such as dogs and cats against the same fate7). Medical science also plundered the remains of murdered individuals in order to acquire specimens for university institutes of anatomy and pathology and neuropathology, as well as for prestigious research institutes such as the Kaiser-Wilhelm (now the Max Planck) Society.

Every captive of the Nazi state was considered to be a potential subject for inhuman research. Helpless victims, the inmates of psychiatric hospitals and concentration camps, were available for exploitation while alive. Leading scientists and professors took an active part in this ruthless abuse. Every university anatomical institute in Germany -- and probably Austria -- was the recipient of the cadavers of victims of Nazi terror, in particular, political victims executed by the Gestapo.

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Doctors and Medical Atrocities

In the Third Reich, medical depravity was ubiquitous. The following are some representative examples of those involved in medical atrocities:

Professor Dr. Carl Schneider (1891-1946), Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Heidelberg, used the Nazis' euthanasia program for his own depraved research. Schneider conducted psychological assessments of children he knew were doomed to die, and had their brains collected and dissected after they were murdered.8 Schneider committed suicide after the war.

Professor Dr. Hermann Stieve (1886-1952) was a leading anatomist at the University of Berlin and the Berlin Charité Hospital who exploited the killing programs of the Third Reich to conduct studies on the female reproductive system. When a woman of reproductive age was to be executed by the Gestapo, Stieve was informed, a date of execution was decided upon, and the prisoner told the scheduled date of her death. Stieve then studied the effects of the psychic trauma on the doomed woman's menstrual pattern. Upon the woman's execution, her pelvic organs were removed for histological (tissue) examination. Stieve published reports based on those studies without hesitation or apology.9

After the war, Stieve lectured medical students on studies he had conducted on the migration of human sperm, studies performed on women raped before their deaths in Gestapo execution chambers. Stieve discussed this research before an audience of appalled but silent medical students in East Berlin. (Russian scientists reportedly sought out Stieve's research after the war.10) Stieve served as dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Humbolt University, the East Berlin successor to the University of Berlin. A lecture room and a sculpture of his bust were dedicated in his honor at the Berlin Charité Hospital.

The neuropathologist Dr. Julius Hallervorden (1882-1965), who directed the famed Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute of Brain Research (KWIBR) in Berlin-Buch, seized the opportunity afforded by the murder of psychiatric patients at Brandenburg to acquire hundreds of brain specimens for what was probably the foremost neuropathological collection in the world. Renamed the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research (MPIBR), the institute and its neuropathological collection were relocated from Berlin-Buch to Frankfurt. Hallervorden, who was actually present at the "euthanasia" killing center in Brandenburg, had a congenital neurological condition conamed for him: Hallervorden-Spatz Disease. His laudatory biography is included in a 1990 anthology of the founders of child neurology.11-13

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Reporting on the Role of Universities

The execution chambers of jails throughout the Third Reich were virtual slaughterhouses, and the remains were delivered to every university institute of anatomy in Germany (and probably Austria). Many of the victims were Polish and Russian slave laborers executed for such acts as socializing with German women.14 In 1942, the Reich Ministry of Justice declared that the corpses of executed Poles and Jews would (contrary to existing German law) ". . . not be released for burial by the relatives."15 Their destination would be a university anatomical institute.

Thus far only the universities of Tübingen and Vienna have held formal investigations into anatomical practices at their respective institutions during the Nazi era. Both universities issued reports that are in the public domain.16-17

In 1988, it was revealed that the Tübingen anatomical institute still had in its collections the remains of victims of Nazi terror. Despite the assertions of the then director of the anatomical institute that only two microscopic slides may have been derived from "possible" victims of the Nazis,18 inquiries revealed that the Institute of Anatomy had received the cadavers of over 400 victims. The names of all the foreign workers executed by the Nazis whose bodies were sent to the anatomy institute are listed in the records of the institute. All suspect specimens or specimens of uncertain origin were buried in a special section of the Tübingen cemetery reserved for the remains of subjects used for the teaching of anatomy. On July 8, 1990, a commemorative ceremony was held.19

The Institute of Anatomy of the University of Vienna was headed by the noted anatomist -- and Austro-Fascist -- Professor Dr. Eduard Pernkopf. Pernkopf, who was appointed dean of medicine at the university after the Anschluss,20-21 was the founding editor of a major text on human anatomy, a text that is still considered a "masterpiece" and the "standard by which all other illustrated anatomic works are measured."22 The book continues to be published under the imprint of the original publisher, Urban and Schwarzenberg. In the book's illustrations, artists graphically expressed their Nazi sympathies: The artists Franz Batke, Eric Lepier and Karl Entresser incorporated Nazi iconography (swastikas or SS symbols) into their signatures.23-24 More disconcerting are questions concerning the subjects in those paintings. The age, appearance and crude haircut of one of the subjects raises questions as to whether the real-life model may have been a prisoner.25-27

The 1964 two-volume English-language edition included original unaltered signatures, complete with Nazi symbols.28 Current editions ofPernkopf's Anatomy include paintings from the original editions, but Nazi iconography has been airbrushed out -- with two exceptions. In March 1995 the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority of Israel, Yad Vashem, formally requested that the Universities of Vienna and Innsbruck undertake an independent inquiry, with outside experts, into the backgrounds of the subjects inPernkopf's Anatomy.30-31 The request was made of the University of Innsbruck because it was believed that many of the original Pernkopf specimens were still in the university's anatomical institute.32

The initial request from Yad Vashem was denied.33-37 However, in February 1997, the Rector of the University of Vienna, Professor Alfred Ebenbauer, formally announced a university commission of investigation;38 a report was issued on October 1, 1998.39 The investigation revealed that the Institute of Anatomy received almost 1,400 cadavers from the Gestapo execution chamber in the Vienna Regional Court (Landesgerichte). While the anatomical institute and its collection were destroyed by a bomb near the end of the war, the investigation did identify approximately 200 institute specimens from the Nazi era that were still in other universities' collections.

The University of Innsbruck has refused to undertake any investigation.

Following the 1988 revelations that anatomical and pathological specimens from the Nazi era were still to be found in institutions in West Germany, the government of Israel made a formal complaint to the West German government on this matter. In response to the Israeli complaint, inquiries were made through the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Culture and Education of the Länder. The initial inquiries focused on institutions in West Germany.40 A subsequent report covered institutions in East Germany.41 No German institution at that time, except for the University of Tübingen, conducted a formal self-examination.

Since then, there have been two attempts to initiate formal investigations into the collections of two German universities: the University of Heidelberg and the Ludwig-Maximillian University of Munich. The University of Heidelberg was asked to undertake an inquiry into the matter of the Schneider collection of the brains of murdered children. The Ludwig-Maximillian University of Munich was asked to conduct an inquiry into allegations that the university's Institute of Anatomy contained cadavers of circumcised males identified as "prisoners from wartime." Both institutions demurred.42-44

In addition to the universities, investigations are required of other scientific institutions, such as the Max Planck Society. While the Max Planck organization did remove specimens from the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich, no formal investigation of its collections and wartime conduct has ever been conducted by that organization.

There has been no investigation by Humbolt University or the Berlin Charité Hospital into the research, or the anatomical collection, of Professor Hermann Stieve. Stieve's experiments represent some of the worst examples of evil perpetrated on women in the name of science.

In addition to investigations into prestigious academic and research institutions, there should be public inquiries into the two medical schools instituted by the Nazi regime at Strasbourg in Alsace and Pozen in Poland. Given the designation Reichsuniversität, their goals were to implement Nazi ideals and policies. The Strasbourg institution was part of the SS research organization known as the Ahnenerbe.

The anatomy department of Strasbourg's medical school was headed by the renowned Professor Dr. August Hirt. Hirt, who was the coinventor of the fluorescent microscope, intended, at Strasbourg, to acquire a "collection of skulls of all races and peoples." Nazi authorities, cooperating with Hirt, gassed approximately 86 Jewish prisoners from Poland at the Natzweiler concentration camp in German-occupied France, and transferred the bodies to Hirt's institute. After the war, unsuspecting French medical students dissected some of these remains. Hirt, who was also involved in horrific experiments with mustard gas and phosgene, committed suicide in 1945.45-46

The dean of the medical department of the Reichsuniversität of Pozen was the German anatomist Professor Dr. Hermann Voss (1894-1987). Voss derived great personal satisfaction from the death of Poles who were either cremated in the oven of his anatomical institute or dissected in his anatomy lab. Voss used the bodies of the executed prisoners for the preparation of skeletal remains that he then sold for profit. Voss's institution also prepared death masks and busts from the bodies of Jews sent from a nearby concentration camp. These were sold to the Vienna Museum of Natural History, along with the skulls of Jews and non-Jewish Poles. The specimens were ordered by Dr. Josef Wastel, the head of the anthropology department of the Vienna museum. The skulls, masks and busts were displayed in the museum's Race Gallery. In 1991, most of these items were turned over to the Austrian Jewish community. The skulls were buried. In 1997, the Vienna Jewish Museum displayed the masks in an exhibit entitled "Masks: An Attempt About the Shoah."47

The skulls of the non-Jewish Polish victims and the gypsum death busts of two Jews remain in the collection of the Vienna museum. The museum also possesses extensive documentation on its specimen collection (including the account books and inventory), as well as on the role played by the museum in the Nazi regime's racial programs.

A formal investigation of the Vienna Museum of Natural History is presently under consideration.

Professor Hermann Voss continued his anatomy career after the war. He had appointments in Halle (1948-1952), Jena (1952-1962) and subsequently, as professor emeritus at the Greifswald anatomical institute. Voss also coauthored a textbook of anatomy, Taschenbuch der Anatomie; it was probably the most popular anatomical textbook ever published in Germany. The book appeared in 17 German-language editions, as well as in Spanish and Polish editions.

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Over a century ago the universities, museums, clinics and research institutes of Germany and Austria gave birth to modern medicine and medical science. These achievements were rooted in the rigorous application of academic and scientific principles of research, documentation and publication. Six decades ago many of those institutions participated in some of the greatest crimes in the history of humanity. These institutions now have a moral obligation to explore their own past, and to do so by applying the same scholarly principles they continue to espouse. Moreover, given the current evidence, investigations into the use of the remains of victims of Nazi terror must be implemented in those countries and territories that were once controlled by Nazi Germany. Justice and simple decency demand nothing less.

Doctors' Trial


The Doctors' Trial (officially United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et al.) was the first of 12 trials for war crimes that the United States authorities held in their occupation zone inNurembergGermany after the end of World War II. These trials were held before U.S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at thePalace of Justice. The trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials", formally the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).

Twenty of the 23 defendants were medical doctors (Brack, Rudolf Brandt, and Sievers being Nazi officials instead) and were accused of having been involved in Nazi human experimentation and mass murder under the the guise of euthanasiaJosef Mengele, one of the leading Nazi doctors, had evaded capture.

The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal I, were Walter B. Beals (presiding judge) from WashingtonHarold L. Sebring from Florida, and Johnson T. Crawford fromOklahoma, with Victor C. Swearingen, a former special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States, as an alternate judge. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor and the chief prosecutor James M. McHaney. The indictment was filed on October 25, 1946; the trial lasted from December 9 that year until August 20, 1947. Of the 23 defendants, seven were acquitted and seven received death sentences; the remainder received prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.

The accused faced 4,000 charges, including:

  1. Conspiracy to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity as described in counts 2 and 3;
  2. War crimes: performing medical experiments, without the subjects' consent, on prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, in the course of which experiments the defendants committed murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhuman acts. Also planning and performing the mass murder of prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, stigmatized as aged, insane, incurably ill, deformed, and so on, by gas, lethal injections, and diverse other means in nursing homes, hospitals, and asylums during the Euthanasia Program and participating in the mass murder of concentration camp inmates.
  3. Crimes against humanity: committing crimes described under count 2 also on German nationals.
  4. Membership in a criminal organization, the SS.

The tribunal largely dropped count 1, stating that the charge was beyond its jurisdiction.

Defendants' fates Name FunctionChargesVerdict and sentence    1234  Hermann Becker-Freyseng Stabsarzt in the Luftwaffe (Captain, Medical Service of the Air Force); and Chief of the Department for Aviation Medicine of the Chief of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe I G G   20 years' imprisonment,commuted to 10 years-died 1961 Wilhelm Beiglböck Consulting Physician to the Luftwaffe I G G   15 years' imprisonment, commuted to 10 years-died 1963 Kurt Blome Deputy [of the] Reich Health Leader (Reichsgesundheitsführer); and Plenipotentiary for Cancer Research in the Reich Research Council I I I   acquitted at Doctors' Trial but later convicted by French authorities and sentenced to 20 years-died 1969 Viktor Brack Oberführer (Senior Colonel) in the SS and Sturmbannführer (Major) in theWaffen SS; and Chief Administrative Officer in the Chancellery of theFührer of the NSDAP (Oberdienstleiter, Kanzlei des Führers der NSDAP) I G G G death Karl Brandt Personal physician to Adolf Hitler; Gruppenführer in the SS andGeneralleutnant (Lieutenant General) in the Waffen SS; Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation (Reichskommissar für Sanitäts- und Gesundheitswesen); and member of the Reich Research Council (Reichsforschungsrat) I G G G death Rudolf Brandt Standartenführer (Colonel); in the Allgemeine SS; Personal Administrative Officer to Reichsführer SS Himmler (Persönlicher Referent von Himmler); and Ministerial Counsellor and Chief of the Ministerial Office in the ReichMinistry of the Interior I G G G death Fritz Fischer Sturmbannführer (Major) in the Waffen SS; and Assistant Physician to the defendant Gebhardt at the Hospital at Hohenlychen I G G G lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 15 years released 1954; died 2003 Karl Gebhardt Gruppenführer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General) in theWaffen SS; personal physician to Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler; Chief Surgeon of the Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police (Oberster Kliniker, Reichsarzt SS und Polizei); and President of the German Red Cross I G G G death Karl Genzken Gruppenführer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General) in theWaffen SS; and Chief of the Medical Department of the Waffen SS (Chef des Sanitätsamts der Waffen SS) I G G G lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 20 years released 1954-died 1957 Siegfried Handloser Generaloberstabsarzt (Colonel General, Medical Service); Medical Inspector of the Army (Heeressanitätsinspekteur); and Chief of the Medical Services of the Armed Forces (Chef des Wehrmachtsanitätswesens) I G G   lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 20 years-released/died 1954 Waldemar Hoven Hauptsturmführer (Captain) in the Waffen SS; and Chief Doctor of theBuchenwald concentration camp I G G G death Joachim Mrugowsky Oberführer (Senior Colonel) in the Waffen SS; Chief Hygienist of the ReichPhysician SS and Police (Oberster Hygieniker, Reichsarzt SS und Polizei); and Chief of the Hygienic Institute of the Waffen SS (Chef des Hygienischen Institutes der Waffen SS) I G G G death Herta Oberheuser Physician at the Ravensbrück concentration camp; and Assistant Physician to the defendant Gebhardt at the Hospital at Hohenlychen I G G   20 years' imprisonment, commuted to 10 years released 1952-died 1978 Adolf Pokorny Physician, Specialist in Skin and Venereal Diseases I I I   acquitted Helmut Poppendick Oberführer (Senior Colonel) in the SS; and Chief of the Personal Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police (Chef des Persönlichen Stabes des Reichsarztes SS und Polizei) I I I G 10 years imprisonment, released 1951-died 1994 Hans Wolfgang Romberg Doctor on the Staff of the Department for Aviation Medicine at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation I I I   acquitted Gerhard Rose Generalarzt of the Luftwaffe (Brigadier General, Medical Service of the Air Force); Vice President, Chief of the Department for Tropical Medicine, and Professor of the Robert Koch Institute; and Hygienic Adviser for Tropical Medicine to the Chief of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe I G G   lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 20 years released 1955-died 1992 Paul Rostock Chief Surgeon of the Surgical Clinic in Berlin; Surgical Adviser to the Army; and Chief of the Office for Medical Science and Research (Amtschef der Dienststelle Medizinische Wissenschaft und Forschung) under the defendant Karl Brandt, Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation I I I   acquitted-died 1956 Siegfried Ruff Director of the Department for Aviation Medicine at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation (Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt); still researching and publishing in the field of aviation as late as 1989[1] I I I   acquitted Konrad Schäfer Doctor on the Staff of the Institute for Aviation Medicine in Berlin I I I   acquitted Oskar Schröder Generaloberstabsarzt (Colonel General Medical Service); Chief of Staff of the Inspectorate of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe (Chef des Stabes, Inspekteur des Luftwaffe-Sanitätswesens); and Chief of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe (Chef des Sanitätswesens der Luftwaffe) I G G   lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 15 years Wolfram Sievers Standartenführer (Colonel) in the SS; Reich Manager of the "Ahnenerbe" Society and Director of its Institute for Military Scientific Research (Institut für Wehrwissenschaftliche Zweckforschung); and Deputy Chairman of the Managing Board of Directors of the Reich Research Council I G G G death Georg August Weltz Oberfeldarzt in the Luftwaffe (Lieutenant Colonel, Medical Service, of the Air Force); and Chief of the Institute for Aviation Medicine in Munich I I I   acquitted

I — Indicted   G — Indicted and found guilty

Those sentenced to death were hanged on June 2, 1948 in Landsberg prisonBavaria.

For some, the difference between receiving a prison term and the death sentence was membership of "an organization declared criminal by the judgement of the International Military Tribunal", the SS. However, some SS medical personnel received prison sentences. The degree of personal involvement and/or presiding over groups involved was a factor in others.


Bruno Beger

Bruno Beger (27 April 1911, Frankfurt am Main - 12 October 2009 Königstein im Taunus) was aGerman Racial anthropologist who worked for the Ahnenerbe. In that role he participated in Ernst Schäfer's 1938 journey to Tibet, helped the Race and Settlement Office of the SS identify Jewsand helped locate subjects needed for a skeleton collection to help educate on the identification of Jewish peoples.

Early life Beger (right) with the Tibet expedition and their Sikkimese interpreters, Kaiser Bahadur Thapa and Rabden Khazi, in 1938.

Beger was born in 1911 to an old Heidelberg family that soon after came upon hard times when Beger's father was killed in World War I, but a family friend paid for him to attend the University of Jena where he was first exposed to Hans F. K. Günther during a lecture, a man who would encourage him through his early academic career in anthropology and ethnology.

Service in the SS Anthropologist Beger being blessed by Tibet's Regent, Reting Rinpoche, in Lhasa, in 1938.

In 1934, Beger began working a part-time job in the Race and Settlement Office of the SS where he eventually became a section head. Beger was asked to be part of a journey to Hawaii, but while this expedition was waiting for final approval, he was invited on a trip to Tibet led by Ernst Schäferwhich he accepted instead.

In a proposal he wrote to Schäfer, Beger stated his contribution to the expedition would be "to study the current racial-anthropological situation through measurements, trait research, photography and moulds... and to collect material about the proportion, origins, significance and development of the Nordic race in this region." 

The German Ernst Schäfer Tibet Expedition

All through the expedition, Beger kept a travel diary which was published in book form 60 years later, Mit der deutschen Tibetexpedition Ernst Schäfer 1938/39 nach Lhasa (Wiesbaden, 1998). Only 50 copies of it exist.

Racial experiences

Beger worked together with August Hirt at the Reichsuniversität Straßburg. His duty, which he carried out, was to provide the Nazi physician with detainees of diverse ethnic types from various concentration camps in order to serve Hirt's lethal racial experiments. In these endeavours he was assisted by doctors Hans EndresHans FleischhackerHeinrich Rübel and Rudolf Trojan(Pringle:254).

After the war

In 1974 he was convicted by a German court as an accessory to 86 murders for his part in procuring and preparing the victims of the Jewish skeleton collection at Auschwitz concentration camp. He was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, the minimum sentence, but did not serve any time in prison.

According to his family, Beger died in Königstein/Taunus on October 12, 2009


Hermann Becker-Freyseng

Hermann Becker-Freyseng (born 18 July 1910 in Ludwigshafen - died 27 August 1961 inHeidelberg) was a German physician and consultant for aviation medicine with the Luftwaffe. He was recognised as a leading specialist in aviation medicine. Becker-Freyseng was one of those convicted at the Doctor's Trial.

Early research

Becker-Freyseng graduated as a physician from the University of Berlin in 1935 although his first notable research involvement did not come along until three years later when he worked with Hans-Georg Clamman on experiments on the effects of pure oxygen.

Work with the Nazis

Becker-Freyseng was initially recruited by Hubertus Strughold to take part in the Nazi human experimentation programme that he oversaw. Becker-Freyseng's particular area of experimentation was low-pressure-chamber research, in which he worked alongside Ulrich LuftOtto Gauer and Erich Opitz. The Department for Aviation Medicine was established in 1936 with Becker-Freyseng initially just attached before he was promoted to co-ordinator. Unlike some of his colleagues in military medical research he was a member of the Nazi Party. He also held the rank of Captain in the Medical Service.

The various experiments undertaken either by Becker-Freyseng or under his supervision during the course of his work resulted in a number of fatalities. In particular the high altitude experiments performed on inmates of Dachau concentration camp by Becker-Freyseng, Ruff andHans-Wolfgang Romberg claimed a number of lives. One of the most well-known was that detailed in a paper published by he and Konrad Schäfer entitled "Thirst and Thirst Quenching in Emergency Situations at Sea". For the experiments the academics had personally askedHeinrich Himmler for 40 healthy camp inmates who were then forced to drink salt water or in some cases had it injected into their veins. Half the subjects were then given a drug called berkatit whilst all were subjected to an invasive liver biopsy without anaesthetic. All subjects died, including those given the berkatit, which proved toxic.

Trial and work with the USA

Indicted at the Doctor's Trial, he was found guilty of charges 2 and 3 (war crimes and crimes against humanity). He sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. However in 1946 Becker-Freyseng's name was amongst a list of twenty drawn up by Harry George Armstrong who were to be brought to the United States to assist in the development of American space medicine. Along with Kurt BlomeSiegfried Ruffand Konrad Schäfer he was taken to the USA and put to work on projects related to the space race under a scheme known as Operation Paperclip. Given responsibility for collecting and publishing the research undertaken by he and his colleagues, the resulting book, German Aviation Medicine: World War II, appeared just after Becker-Freyseng began his prison sentence.

Becker-Freyseng was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis in 1960 and died from the condition the following year.


Wilhelm Beiglböck

Wilhelm Beiglböck
Mug shot of Wilhelm Beiglböck Born 10 October 1905
HochneukirchenLower Austria Died 22 November 1963
BuxtehudeLower Saxony,Germany Conviction(s) Crimes against humanity atDachau concentration camp. Penalty 15 years imprisonment, later commuted. Occupation Medical doctor Wilhelm Beiglböck pleading "not guilty" at the Doctors' Trial.

Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Beiglböck (born October 10, 1905, HochneukirchenLower AustriaAustria – November 22, 1963,BuxtehudeLower SaxonyGermany) was an internist and held the title of Consulting Physician to the GermanLuftwaffe during World War II.

He was a member of the NSDAP and member of the SA (SA Obersturmbannführer). He performed medical testsinvolving seawater on inmates at Dachau concentration camp.

Beiglboeck was a defendant in the Nuremberg Doctor's Trial. He was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. His sentence was commuted to 10 years and from 1952 - 1963 he served as the chief physician at Hospital of Buxtehude.


Kurt Blome

Kurt Blome (31 January 1894, BielefeldWestphalia – 10 October 1969) was a high-ranking Nazi scientist before and during World War II. He was the Deputy Reich Health Leader (Reichsgesundheitsführer) and Plenipotentiary for Cancer Research in the Reich Research Council. In his autobiography, Arzt im Kampf (English: Physician in Struggle), Blome equated medical and military power in their battle for life and death.

Blome had been arrested on May 17, 1945 by an agent of the United States Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC, an army intelligence service) in Munich, and he had no papers except his driving licence. After some weeks of custody, in which the CIC checked on his identity, Blome was taken to Kransberg Castle (a medieval castle north of Frankfurt) by an escort.

A few days after his arrival at the castle a secret message was transmitted to Operation Alsos, an Anglo-American team of experts, whose order was to investigate the state ofGerman and Italian weapons technology towards end of war:

"In 1943 Blome was studying bacteriological warfare, although officially he was involved in cancer research, which was however only a camouflage. Blome additionally served as deputy health minister of the Reich. Would like you to send investigators?"

Blome admitted that he had been ordered in 1943 to experiment with plague vaccines on concentration camp prisoners. He was tried at theDoctors' Trial in 1947 on charges of practicing euthanasia and conducting experiments on humans. Although acquitted, his earlier admissions were well known, and it was generally accepted that he had indeed participated in the experiments (there is evidence that Blome experimented with Sarin gas on Auschwitz prisoners).

As Plenipotentiary for Cancer Research in the Third Reich, Blome had a longstanding interest in the "military use of carcinogenic substances" and cancer-causing viruses. According to Ute Deichmann's book Biologists under Hitler, in 1942 he became director of a unit affiliated with the Central Cancer Institute at the University of Posen, which is now in Poland. Although he claimed that the work at this institute involved only "defensive" measures against biological weapons, Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Goering and Erich Schumann, head of the Wehrmacht's Science Section, strongly supported the offensive use of chemical and biological weapons against Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States.

Blome worked on methods of storage and dispersal of biological agents like plague, cholera, anthrax and typhoid, and also infected prisoners with plague in order to test the efficacy of vaccines. Eduard May, director of the SS Institute for Practical Research in Military Science, collaborated with him in experiments on "the artificial mass transmission of the Malaria parasite to humans", with infected mosquitoes dropped from planes. Blome also worked on aerosol despersants and methods of spraying nerve agents like Tabun and Sarin from aircraft, and tested the effects of these gases on prisoners at Auschwitz.

Blome fled from Posen in March 1945 just ahead of the Red Army, and was unable to have the facilities destroyed. He informed Walter Schreiber, head of the Wehrmacht's Military Medical Inspectorate, that he was "very concerned that the installations for human experiments that were in the institute and recognizable as such, would be very easily identified by the Russians."

Blome's entire career deserves a great deal more study than it has thus far received, including his subsequent work to the United States on biological and chemical weapons and his acquittal of war crimes charges at the Nurmeberg 'Doctor's Trial' in 1946-47.

Throughout the war, the German and Japanese biological warfare programs exchanged information, samples and equipment by submarine, and indeed the last of these submarines actually departed from Japan as late as May 1945. The Japanese destroyed many of the records about these contacts and the biological warfare program prior to their own surrender in August, however. In the 1930s, Hitler had ordered a group of officers led by Dr. Otto Muntsch to study Japan's use of chemical and biological weapons against China, and these programs of scientific cooperation and exchange were formalized in a series of agreements in 1938-39. Dr. Gerhard Rose, one of the leading German experts on tropical diseases and later a defendant at the Nuremberg Doctors Trial, turned over samples of the yellow fever virus to Unit 731 that they had been unable to obtain from the United States. In February 1941, Dr. Hojo Enryo from Unit 731 arrived in Germany as scientific attache to the Japanese Embassy, and often visited the Robert Koch Institute and other facilities to gather information of German biological warfare efforts. He also gave a lecture on this subject to the Berlin Academy of Medicine in October 1941. Blome's own institute in Posen was very similar in design to Unit 731's facility in Pingfan, Manchuria.

Testimony to Americans

It is believed that American intervention saved Blome from the gallows. In return Blome agreed to provide information to the Americans about his experiments in the Dachau concentration camp and advice in the development of their own germ warfare program  In November 1947, two months after his Nuremberg acquittal, Blome was interviewed by four representatives from Camp Detrick, Maryland, including Dr. H.W. Batchelor, in which he explained German biological warfare experiments in detail and identified other experts in the field. In 1951, he was hired by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps under Project 63, one of the successors to Operation Paperclip, to work on chemical warfare. His file neglected to mention Nuremberg. Denied a visa by the U.S. Consul in Frankfurt, he was employed at European Command Intelligence Center at Oberusal, West Germany.

Final arrest and imprisonment

Eventually, Blome was arrested by French authorities, convicted of war crimes, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

One of Blome's colleagues and subordinates in biological warfare, Eugen von Haagen, was tried by the French after the war and imprisoned from 1947-55. Von Haagen was an officer in the Luftwaffe Medical Service and a professor at the University of Stassburg, which has been "a major biological warfare research base." His main interests since the 1930s, when he had worked at the Rockefeller Institute in New York, were virology and typhus research. He experimented with hepatitis and typhus vaccines of prisoners at the Natzweiler concentration camp, infecting them with the diseases before testing his vaccines. Dr. Kurt Gutzeit was in charge of hepatitis research for the German Army, experimented with hepatitis ("Jaundice Virus") on concentration camp prisoners, as did von Haagen and his colleagues Dr. Arnold Dohmen and Dr. Hans Voegt. These experiments were carried out on mental patients, Jews, Russian POWs and Gypsies in Sachsenhausen, Auschwitz and other locations. Dohmen and Gutzeit also did experiments on humans with nephritis virus, which was found in mice and rabbits. One question that is still unknown is whether Dohmen, Voegt and Gutzeit were ever employed by Operation Paperclip or similar programs after the war, as were Erich Traub, von Haagen and Blome.

The U.S. authorities arrested von Haagen in 1945 and he was interviewed by the ALSOS Mission, led by Boris Pash. After obtaining the desired information on his biological warfare activities, they released him, but then he was arrested again by the British in 1946 and appeared as a witness for the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials and against his former colleagues at the Buchenwald Trial. Released once again, he went to work for the Soviets at the Institute for Medicine and Biology in Berlin. Von Haagen was arrested for the third time by the French and tried before a military court in Metz, which waited until 1952 to sentence him to life imprisonment. This sentence was overturned in 1954 when he was sentenced to twenty years at hard labor. Released yet again in 1955, von Haagen went to work at the Federal Institute of Viral Pathology in West Germany. In all of his repeated arrests and trials, American intervention protected von Haagen.

As with Blome and other Germans involved in biological warfare activities and Operation Paperclip, his postwar career requires more research.


Viktor Brack

Viktor Brack (9 November 1904 in Haaren, now a part of Aachen - 2 June 1948 in Landsberg am Lech), was a Nazi war criminal, the organiser of the Euthanasia Programme, Action T4, where the Nazi state systematically murdered disabled German people. Following this, Brack was one of the men responsible for the gassing of Jews in the extermination camps, and he conferred withOdilo Globocnik about the practical implementation of the Final Solution. Brack was sentenced to death in 1947 and executed in 1948.


In 1929, Viktor Brack became a member of the NSDAP and the SS. In 1936, he supervised the operation of Office 2 (Amt 2) in the Chancellery of the Führer in Berlin. The office examined complaints received by the Führer from all parts of Germany. In November 1940, Brack was promoted to the grade of SS Oberführer (Senior Colonel).

In December 1939, Brack gave August Becker the task of arranging gas killing operations of mental patients and other people that the Nazis deemed "life unworthy of life." This operation later became known as Action T4.

During the Doctors' Trial Brack testified from the witness stand that after 1941, when the extermination of Jewish population by Nazis was at full capacity, Heinrich Himmler ordered him to contact physicians involved previously in the Euthanasia Program to find out a way of sterilizing young and strong Jews capable of labour for use in the German war effort. The idea was to develop a method by which the victim could be sterilized without being aware of the process.

In March 1941, Brack fulfilled his assignment and prepared a report for Heinrich Himmler, in which he described the method of sterilizing patients using X-rays on a large scale and without the subject's knowledge of the fact until the effects made themselves felt.

On 23 June 1942 Brack wrote the following letter to Himmler:

Dear Reichsführer, among tens of millions of Jews in Europe, there are, I figure, at least two to three millions of men and women who are fit enough to work. Considering the extraordinary difficulties the labour problem presents us with, I hold the view that those two to three millions should be specially selected and preserved. This can, however, only be done if at the same time they are rendered incapable to propagate. About a year ago I reported to you that agents of mine had completed the experiments necessary for this purpose. I would like to recall these facts once more. Sterilization, as normally performed on persons with hereditary diseases, is here out of the question, because it takes too long and is too expensive. Castration by X-ray however is not only relatively cheap, but can also be performed on many thousands in the shortest time. I think that at this time it is already irrelevant whether the people in question become aware of having been castrated after some weeks or months, once they feel the effects. Should you, Reichsführer, decide to choose this way in the interest of the preservation of labor, then Reichsleiter Bouhler would be prepared to place all physicians and other personnel needed for this work at your disposal. Likewise he requested me to inform you that then I would have to order the apparatus so urgently needed with the greatest speed.

Heil Hitler! YoursVIKTOR BRACK.

Following the letter, Himmler ordered the procedure to be tested on prisoners in Auschwitz. Since Brack was transferred to an SS division, his deputy Blankenburg would undertake the task and "immediately take the necessary measures and get in touch with the chiefs of the main offices of the concentration camps."

The Nuremberg Trial Viktor Brack testifies in his own defense at the Doctors' Trial inNuremberg in 1947

From testimony given by a French physician of Jewish descent, who was a prisoner in Auschwitz from September 1943 to January 1945, it can be found that sterilization of Jewish inmates was carried out in Birkenau camp by SS doctors. About 100 male Poles who had been sterilized at Birkenau were attended to by the witness after the operation. According to the witness, members of the group were later castrated by camp physicians.

More evidence was presented, from which it is clear that sterilization using very high doses of X-raysduring several minutes was conducted on other persecuted groups. They also were subjected to the excruciatingly painful procedure, and later castrated.

Also, during the Doctors' Trial at Nuremberg, Brack was implicated in the execution of the Euthanasia Program which later emerged as the famous "Action 14 f 13"; the extermination of those concentration camp inmates deemed unable to work.


Karl Brandt

Karl Brandt (January 8, 1904 – June 2, 1948) was a German Nazi war criminal. He rose to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer in the Allgemeine-SS and SS-Brigadeführer in the Waffen-SS. Among other positions, Brandt headed the administration of the Nazi euthanasia program from 1939 onwards and was selected as Adolf Hitler's personal physician in August 1934. In 1942, he became Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation. He was involved in criminal human experimentation, along with his deputy Werner Heyde and others. After World War II, Brandt was convicted of crimes against humanity. He was hanged on June 2, 1948.

Early life

Brandt was born in Mulhouse in the then German Alsace-Lorraine territory (now in Haut-Rhin,France), but his parents were not Alsatians[citation needed]. He became a medical doctor in 1928. He joined the Nazi Party in January 1932, and became a member of the SA in 1933. He became a member of the SS in July 1934 and was appointed Untersturmführer. From the Summer of 1934 forward, he was Hitler's "Escort Physician". Karl Brandt married Anni Rehborn (born 1904), a champion swimmer, on March 17, 1934. They had one son, Karl Adolf Brandt (born October 4, 1935).

In the context of the 1933 Nazi law Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses (Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring), he was one of the medical scientists who performed abortions in great numbers on women deemed genetically disordered, mentally or physically handicapped or racially deficient, or whose unborn fetuses were expected to develop such genetic "defects". These abortions had been legalized, as long as no healthyAryan fetuses were aborted.

On September 1, 1939, Brandt was appointed by Hitler co-head of the T-4 Euthanasia Program, with Philipp Bouhler. He received regular promotions in the SS; by April 1944, Brandt was a SS-Gruppenführer in the Allgemeine-SS and a SS-Brigadeführer in the Waffen-SS. On April 16, 1945, he was arrested by the Gestapo for moving his family out of Berlin so they could surrender to American forces. He was condemned to death by a court in Berlin. Brandt was released from arrest by order of Karl Dönitz on May 2, 1945. He was placed under arrest by the British on May 23, 1945.

Life in the Inner Circle

Karl Brandt and his wife Anni were members of Hitler's inner circle at Berchtesgaden where Hitler maintained his private residence known as the Berghof. This very exclusive group functioned as Hitler's de facto family circle. It included Eva BraunAlbert Speer, his wifeMargarete Speer, Dr. Theodor MorellMartin Bormann, Hitler's photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, and Hitler's adjutants (and their wives) and secretaries. As members of this inner circle, the Brandts had a residence near the Berghof and spent extensive time there whenever Hitler was present. In his memoirs, Speer described the familial but numbing lifestyle of Hitler's intimate companions who were forced to stay up most of the night—night after night—listening to the Nazi leader's repetitive monologues or to an unvarying selection of music. Despite Brandt's personal closeness to Hitler, the dictator was furious when he learned shortly before the end of the war that the doctor had sent Anni and their son toward the American lines in hopes of evading capture by the Russians. Only the intervention of Heinrich Himmler and Albert Speer saved Brandt from execution in the war's closing days. However, involvement in euthanasia and human medical experimentation led to his conviction and execution by the Allies on June 2, 1948.

Trial and execution Brandt on trial, August 20, 1947

Brandt was tried along with twenty-two others at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany. The trial was officially titled United States of America v. Karl Brandt et al., but is more commonly referred to as the "Doctors' Trial"; it began on December 9, 1946. He was charged with four counts: 1) conspiracy to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity as described in counts 2 and 3; 2) War crimes: performing medical experiments, without the subjects' consent, on prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, in the course of which experiments the defendants committed murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhuman acts. Also planning and performing the mass murder of prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, stigmatized as aged, insane, incurably ill, deformed, and so on, by gas, lethal injections, and diverse other means in nursing homes, hospitals, and asylums during the Euthanasia Program and participating in the mass murder of concentration camp inmates; 3) Crimes against humanity: committing crimes described under count 2 also on German nationals; 4) Membership in a criminal organization, the SS. The charges against him included special responsibility for, and participation in, Freezing,MalariaLOST GasSulfanilamide, Bone, Muscle and Nerve Regeneration and Bone Transplantation, Sea-Water, Epidemic Jaundice, Sterilization, and Typhus Experiments.

After a defense led by Robert Servatius, on August 19, 1947, Brandt was found guilty on counts 2-4 of the indictment. With six others, he was sentenced to death by hanging, and all were executed at Landsberg Prison on June 2, 1948. Nine other defendants received prison terms of between fifteen years and life, while a further seven were found not guilty.

Brandt's excuse as to his criminal actions at his trial was that,"...any personal code of ethics must give way to the total character of the war".


Fritz Fischer (Medical Doctor)

Fritz Fischer (5 October, 1912 – 2003 in Ingelheim) was a German medical doctor who, under theNazi regime, participated in "medical experiments" conducted on inmates of the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

Fischer was born in Berlin. He studied medicine first at Bonn, later at Berlin and Leipzig, and finally graduated in Hamburg in 1938. He joined the SS in 1934 and became a member of theNSDAP in June 1937. On 1 November 1939, he was assigned to the Waffen-SS of the SS-Department of the Hohenlychen Sanatorium as a physician and SS Second Lieutenant.

In 1940, he became troop physician of the SS Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. After having been wounded he was posted back to Hohenlychen and worked in the camp hospital of the Ravensbrück concentration camp as a surgical assistant to Karl Gebhardt. He participated in the surgical experiments carried out on concentration camp inmates there.

After World War II, he was tried in the Doctors' Trial in Nuremberg and was condemned to life imprisonment. His sentence was reduced to 15 years in 1951 and he was released in March 1954. Fischer subsequently returned his license to practice medicine and started a new career at the chemical company Böhringer in Ingelheim, where he stayed until his retirement.


Karl Gebhardt

Karl Gebhardt (23 November 1897 in Haag – 2 June 1948 in Landsberg am Lech) was aGerman medical doctor; personal physician of Heinrich Himmler; and one of the main coordinators and perpetrators of surgical experiments performed on inmates of the concentration camps at Ravensbrück and Auschwitz.

Career in the Third Reich

Gebhardt's Nazi career began with his joining the NSDAP on 1 May 1933. Two years later, he also joined the SS and became head physician at the sanatorium of Hohenlychen in theUckermark, which he changed from a clinic for tuberculosis patients into an orthopedic clinic and later, during World War II, into a hospital for the Waffen-SS. In 1938, Gebhardt was appointed asHeinrich Himmler's personal physician. In May 1942, Himmler ordered Gebhardt dispatched to Prague in order to attend to the injured Reinhard Heydrich after the assassination attempt in Prague, by British Special Operations Executive (SOE) trained soldiers Jozef Gab?ík and Jan Kubiš of the Czechoslovakia’s army-in-exile. His refusal to prescribe solphoamide (an early antibiotic) contributed to Heydrich's death and had many unfortunate implications for Concentration camp prisoners who he conducted "medical experiments" on later in World War II.[citation needed]

In early 1944, Gebhardt treated Albert Speer for fatigue and a swollen knee. He nearly killed Speer until he was replaced by another doctor. Himmler saw Speer as a rival for power.

Gebhardt eventually rose to the rank of Gruppenführer in the Allgemeine SS and a Major General (Generalmajor) in the Waffen SS. DuringWorld War II, Gebhardt also acted for some time as the President of the German Red Cross.

Having either ordered them or carried them out, Gebhardt was directly responsible for numerous surgical experiments performed onconcentration camp inmates. He was particularly active at the women's camp in Ravensbrück (which was close to Hohenlychen) and the camp in Auschwitz. At Ravensbruck he had initially faced opposition from camp commandant Fritz Suhren, who feared future problems given the status of most camp inmates as political prisoners, but the SS leadership backed Gebhardt and Suhren was forced to co-operate.[3]

A particularly brutal series of experiments Gebhardt carried out involved the ability of "patients" to endure long-duration operations. He would often open a subject's skull or abdomen--without the use of anesthesia--and observe how long the subject survived before succumbing toshock or sepsis. His surgical notes, which are impossible to verify, indicate that certain subjects survived nearly 24 hours under such conditions. Gebhardt was often accompanied by a committee of fellow surgeons during these experiments, allowing them to tinker with his subjects' exposed organs during surgery.[citation needed]

By 22 April 1945, the Soviets were massing their Armies to the immediate east of Berlin and Joseph Goebbels brought his wife and children into the Vorbunker. German dictator Adolf Hitler and a few loyal personnel were present in the adjoining Führerbunker to direct the finaldefence of Berlin.[4] Gebhardt, in his capacity as the Red Cross leader, approached Goebbels about taking the children out of the city with him, but he was dismissed by Goebbels.

Trial and execution Karl Gebhardt

After the war, Gebhardt stood trial in the Doctors' Trial together with 22 other doctors before a U.S.military tribunal, where he was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death on 20 August 1947. He was hanged on 2 June 1948, in Landsberg prison inBavaria.


Karl Genzken

Karl August Genzken (born June 8, 1885 in PreetzHolstein – October 10, 1957 in Hamburg,Germany), a physician, he conducted human experiments on prisoners of several concentration camps. He was a Major General of the Waffen-SS and the Chief of the Medical Office of theWaffen-SS. He was tried as a war criminal in the Doctors' Trial at Nuremberg.

Military career

In 1934, he was reactivated as a reserve officer in the Naval Medical Service. After that, he transferred to the SS Operational Main Office then was promoted from an assistant medical director to the medical superintendent of the SS Hospital in Berlin, and appointed Chief of the Medical Office of the Waffen-SS in 1942.

Genzken had joined the NSDAP on July 7, 1926 (the party member No. 39,913). He joined the SS on November 5, 1933 (No. 207,954) and rose to the rank of Major General in the Waffen-SS.

Genzken was involved in a series of human experiments that were carried out on prisoners of several concentration camps. Genzken was accused and convicted of involvement in the typhus experiments conducted from December 1941 - February 1945, which were conducted for the benefit of the German armed forces to test the effectiveness of vaccines against typhus, smallpoxcholera, and other diseases. The experiments were conducted at Buchenwald and Natzweiler. Genzken was also accused of involvement in sulfanilamide experiments, poison experiments, and incendiary bomb experiments but was not convicted on these counts.


Siegfried Handloser

Siegfried Adolf Handloser (25 March, 1895 - 3 July, 1954) was a Doctor, Prof. Dr. med., Colonel General of the German Armed Forces Medical Services, Chief of the German Armed Forces Medical Services. He was one of the accused in the Doctors' Trial in Nuremberg - after the mainNuremberg Trials.

Born in Konstanz he had been a member of the German Army Medical Service since the First World War. In 1938, Handloser was promoted to the position of Army Group physician of the Army Group Command 3. In October, 1939, he was named honorary professor.

He had held the position of Chief of the Medical Services of the Armed Forces during World War II. It was the most important medical position in entire German Armed Forces and the Waffen-SS.

Yet despite his full knowledge, he had done nothing to stop medical experiments conducted on concentration camp prisoners, this was sufficient to implicate him in the several medical cases dealt with during the Doctors' Trial.

He was convicted by the American Military Tribunal No. I in August, 1947, and sentenced to life imprisonment. This was later reduced to 20 years and, in 1954, he was released. Shortly afterwards, Handloser died of cancer in Munich at the age of 59.

Waldemar Hoven

Waldemar Hoven (February 10, 1903 – June 2, 1948) was a Nazi and a physician at Buchenwald concentration camp.

Hoven was born in FreiburgGermany. Between the years 1919 and 1933, he visited Denmark, Sweden, the United States, and France, returning in 1933 to Freiburg, where he completed his high school studies. He then attended the Universities of Freiburg and Munich. In 1934, he joined the SS. In 1939, he concluded his medical studies and became a physician for the SS. Hoven rose to the rank of Hauptsturmführer (Captain) in the Waffen SS.[1]

Hoven was involved in the administration of medical experiments regarding typhus and the tolerance of serum containing phenol, and which led to the deaths of many inmates. He was also involved in Nazi euthanasia programs, during which people who were considered useless eaterswere killed, along with Jewish people who were considered unfit for work.

He was arrested by the Nazis in 1943, accused of giving a lethal injection of phenol to an SS officer who was a potential witness in an investigation against Ilse Koch, with whom Hoven was rumoured to be having an affair. He was convicted and sentenced to death, although he was released in March 1945 due to the Nazi shortage of doctors.


Hoven was arrested at the end of World War II by the Allies and put on trial as a defendant at theDoctors' Trial (a part of the larger Nuremberg Trials). He was found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and membership in a criminal organization. He was sentenced to death and hanged on June 2, 1948 at Landsberg prison in Bavaria.


Joachim Mrugowsky

Joachim Mrugowsky (August 15, 1905 in RathenowBrandenburg – June 2, 1948) Hygienist. Associate Professor, Medical Doctorate, Chief of Hygiene Institute of the Waffen-SS. Senior Hygienist at the Reich Physician SS, SS and Walfen SS Colonel, defendant in the Doctors Trial.

Early life and education

Mrugowsky's father was a general practitioner, who was killed at the beginning of World War I. In 1925, Mrugowsky began his studies of natural sciences and medicine in Halle. He completed the studies in 1930-1931 with a medical doctorate and a doctorate of natural sciences. 1930-1931 he was the Hochschulgruppenführer (University group leader) of the National Socialist German Students' League branch at the University of Halle. After a two-year internship, he became an assistant at the Hygiene Institute of the University of Halle.

Mrugowsky was made an associate professor in the area of hygiene at the University of Berlin, September 1944.

[edit]Career in the Third Reich

Since 1930, Mrugowsky had been involved in the Nazi ideology, first being the group leader of a local National Socialist German Students' Association then the NSDAP party member (No. 210,049). In 1931, he joined the SS, where he achieved the rank of colonel in both the General SS and the Waffen SS.

Mrugowsky coordinated human experimentation at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin. This included testing of biological warfare agents, including poisoned bullets.

In 1940, as the troop physician of an SS "Das Reich" Division hospital company, Mrugowsky participated in the conquest of Western Europe.

Trial and execution

He was implicated in all medical experiments, with the exception of the aviation ones, which were conducted on concentration camp prisoners. Mrugowsky was condemned to death in August 1947, and executed on June 2, 1948.

Herta Oberheuser

Herta Oberheuser (15 May 1911 in CologneGermany – 24 January 1978 in Linz am Rhein, Germany) was a physician at the Ravensbrück concentration camp from 1940 until 1943.

Medical experiments

She worked there under the supervision of Dr. Karl Gebhardt, participating in gruesome medical experiments (sulfanilamide as well as bone, muscle, and nerve regeneration and bone transplantation) conducted on 86 women, 74 of whom were Polish political prisonersin the camp. Oberheuser killed healthy children with oil and evipan injections, then removed their limbs and vital organs. The time from the injection to death was between three and five minutes, with the person being fully conscious until the last moment. She performed some of the most gruesome and painful medical experiments, focusing on deliberately inflicting wounds on the subjects. In order to simulate the combat wounds of German soldiers fighting in the war, Herta Oberheuser rubbed foreign objects, such as wood, rusty nails, slivers of glass, dirt, or sawdust into the wounds.

Nuremburg trials

Herta Oberheuser was the only female defendant in the Nuremberg Medical Trial, where she was sentenced to 20 years in jail. She was released in April 1952 for good behavior and became a family doctor in Stocksee, Germany. She lost her position in 1956, after a Ravensbrück survivor recognized her, and her license to practice medicine was revoked in 1958.


Adolf Pokorny

Adolf Pokorny was born on July 26, 1895 in Vienna, Austria. He was a dermatologist and Medical Doctorate. He was a defendant in the Doctors' Trial.

Pokorny participated from March 1915 to September 1918 in the First World War. He received many medals and was discharged later in the rank of a second lieutenant.

In 1922, he completed his medical doctorate on March 22, 1922 and received his medical license. After two years of clinical training, he opened a practice in Komotau, specializing in skin andsexually transmitted diseases. His application to enter the NSDAP was declined in 1939, because he was married to a Jewish physician from whom he was divorced in April 1935.

During World War II, Pokorny worked as a medical officer of the German Armed Forces. Pokorny was tried by the American Military Tribunal No. I (also known as the Doctors' Trial) in August 1947. However, he was acquitted of having participated in compulsory sterilization experiments.

Helmut Poppendick

Helmut Poppendick (January 6, 1902[1]-January 11, 1994) Internist. Medical Doctorate, Chief of the Personal Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police. Defendant in the Doctors' Trial.

He studied medicine from 1919-1926 in Göttingen, Munich, and Berlin. Poppendick received his medical license on 1 February 1928. Then, he worked for four years as a clinical assistant at the First Medical Clinic of Charité in Berlin. From June 1933-October 1934, he was the assistant medical director at Virchow Hospital in Berlin.

In 1935, he completed training as an expert for "race hygiene" at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Genetics and Eugenics. After this, he became the adjutant of the ministerial director Arthur Gutt at the Reich Ministry of the Interior. He was also the chief of staff at the SS Office for Population Politics and Genetic Health Care, which in 1937 became the SS Main Race and Settlement Office. Poppendick was departmental head and staff leader of the Genealogical Office.

At the beginning of World War II, he was drafted as an adjutant to a medical department of the army and took part in the attack on Belgium, France and the Netherlands. In November 1941, Poppendick was accepted into the Waffen-SS. In 1943, Ernst-Robert Grawitz of the ReichPhysician SS appointed him to lead his personal staff. Poppendick joined the NSDAP in 1932 (party member No. 998607) and the SS (No. 36345). He reached the rank of Colonel in SS.

Poppendick was implicated in a series of medical experiments done on concentration camp prisoners, including the medical experiments done in Ravensbrück. At the American Military Tribunal No. I on August 20, 1947, he was acquitted from being criminally implicated in medical experiments, but was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for membership in a criminal organization, the SS. He was released on January 31, 1951. Later on, Poppendick managed to get his medical services paid by insurance, in Oldenburg.


Gerhard Rose

Gerhard Rose (November 30, 1896 in Danzig – January 13, 1992 in Obernkirchen) was a Germanexpert on tropical medicine who was tried for war crimes at the end of World War II.

Rose was born in Danzig (then part of Germany, now Gda?sk Poland). He studied at the University of Breslau and the University of Berlin. After completing his studies he worked at the Robert Koch Institute and Heidelberg University. He worked in China from 1929 to 1936.

In 1939, Rose became a member of the Luftwaffe medical corps, where he became a brigadier general. During the war, he carried out experiments on the prisoners in the Dachau concentration camp and Buchenwald, in which he investigated malaria and typhus. He attempted to obtain a research position in the United States, but was arrested at war's end.

During the Doctors' Trial at Nuremberg, he was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he later had his sentence reduced to twenty years. He was released from Landsberg Prison in 1955.

Paul Rostock

Paul Rostock (January 18, 1892 - June 17, 1956) was a German officialsurgeon, and universityprofessor. He was Chief of the Office for Medical Science and Research (Amtschef der Dienststelle Medizinische Wissenschaft und Forschung) under Third Reich Commissioner Karl Brandt and a Full Professor, Medical Doctorate, Medical Superintendent of the University of Berlin Surgical Clinic.

Rostock was born in Kranz/MeseritzGreater Poland. He studied medicine in Greifswald and completed his medical doctorate at Jena in 1921. He received his medical license and became an intern at the University of Jena Surgical Clinic. From 1927 to 1933, Rostock was assistant medical director at Bergmannsheil Hospital in Bochum and worked with Karl Brandt, who was at that time an intern there. In 1933, Rostock took on the position of medical superintendent in Berlin and in 1941 became associate professor and director of the University of Berlin Surgical Clinic of Ziegel Street, where Karl Brandt was then working as assistant medical director. Rostock became dean of the medical faculty at the University of Berlin in 1942.

Rostock's military medical career began in 1939 with the position of Consulting Surgeon to the Army. In 1943, General Commissioner Karl Brandt chose Rostock as his deputy and representative in the Medical Science Research Department. Rostock joined the National Socialist German Workers Party on May 1, 1937 (No. 5,917,621) and the National Socialist German Physicians Association on February 20, 1940 (Nr. 31,569).

Rostock was a defendant in the Doctors' Trial. Because of his very high position, Rostock was charged of implication in several series ofhuman experiments on concentration camp prisoners. He was found innocent and released in August 1947.

He immediately began to work on documentation of the Doctors' Trial, with the goal of presenting the trial to the public from another perspective. Rostock never finished this project.

In 1948, Rostock began working as medical supervisor of Versehrten Hospital in Possenhofen. He then worked as the medical supervisor of Versorgungs Hospital in Bayreuth, from 1953 to his death at age 64 in Bad Tölz.

Wolfram Sievers

Wolfram Sievers (Hildesheim, 10 July 1905 - Landsberg, 2 June 1948) wasReichsgeschäftsführer, or managing director, of the Ahnenerbe from 1935 to 1945.

Early life

Sievers was born in 1905 in Hildesheim, the son of a Protestant church musician. It is reported that he was musically gifted, that he played the harpsichord, organ, and piano, and loved Germanbaroque music. He was expelled from school for being active in the Deutschvölkischer Schutz und Trutzbund and went on to study history, philosophy, and religious studies at Stuttgart's Technical University while working as a salesman. A member of the Bündische Jugend, he became active in the Artamanen-Gesellschaft ("Artaman League"), a nationalist back-to-the-land movement.[1]


Sievers joined the NSDAP in 1929. In 1933 he headed up the Externsteine-Stiftung ("Externsteine Foundation"), which had been founded by Heinrich Himmler to study the Externsteine in the Teutoburger Wald. In 1935, having joined the SS that year, Sievers was appointedReichsgeschäftsführer, or General Secretary, of the Ahnenerbe, by Himmler. He was the actual director of Ahnenerbe operations and was to rise to the rank of SS-Standartenführer by the end of the war.

In 1943 Sievers became director of the Institut für Wehrwissenschaftliche Zweckforschung (Institute for Military Scientific Research), which conducted extensive experiments using human subjects. He also assisted in assembling a collection of skulls and skeletons for August Hirt's study at the Reichsuniversität Straßburg as a part of which 112 Jewish prisoners were selected and killed, after being photographed and their anthropological measurements taken.[2]

[edit]Trial and execution

Sievers was tried during the Doctors' Trial at Nuremberg following the end of World War II, where he was dubbed "the Nazi Bluebeard" by journalist William L. Shirer because of his "thick, ink-black beard".[3] As the Institute for Military Scientific Research had been set up as part of the Ahnenerbe, the prosecution at Nuremberg laid the responsibility for the experiments on humans which had been conducted under its auspices on the Ahnenerbe, and Sievers, as its highest administrative officer, was accused of actively aiding and promoting the criminal experiments.[4]

Sievers was charged with being a member of an organization declared criminal by the International Military Tribunal (the SS), and was implicated in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In his defense, he alleged that as early as 1933, he had been a member of an anti-Nazi resistance movement which planned to assassinate Hitler and Himmler, and that he had obtained his appointment as Manager of the Ahnenerbe so as to get close to Himmler and observe his movements. He further claimed that he remained in the post on the advice of his resistance leader to gather vital information which would assist in the overthrow of the Nazi regime.[5]

Sievers was sentenced to death on 20 August 1947 for crimes against humanity, and hanged on 2 June 1948, at Landsberg prison in Bavaria.


Nazi Human Experimentation

Nazi human experimentation was a series of medical experiments on large numbers of prisoners by the Nazi German regime in its concentration camps mainly in the early 1940s, during World War II andthe Holocaust. Prisoners were coerced into participating: they did not willingly volunteer and there was never informed consent. Typically, the experiments resulted in death, disfigurement or permanentdisability, and as such can be considered as examples of medical torture. At Auschwitz and other camps, under the direction of Dr. Eduard Wirths, selected inmates were subjected to various hazardous experiments which were supposedly designed to help German military personnel in combat situations, develop new weapons, aid in the recovery of military personnel that had been injured, and to advance the racial ideology backed by the Third ReichDr. Aribert Heim conducted similar medical experiments atMauthausenCarl Vaernet is known to have conducted experiments on homosexual prisoners in attempts to cure homosexuality. After the war, these crimes were tried at what became known as theDoctors' Trial, and revulsion at the abuses perpetrated led to the development of the Nuremberg Code of medical ethics.


According to the indictments at the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, these experiments included the following:

Experiments on twins

Experiments on twin children in concentration camps were created to show the similarities and differences in the genetics of twins, as well as to see if the human body can be unnaturally manipulated. The central leader of the experiments was Josef Mengele, who from 1943 to 1944 performed experiments on nearly 1,500 sets of imprisoned twins at Auschwitz. Only 100 individuals survived these studies. While attendingUniversity of Munich (located in the city that remained one of Adolf Hitler's focal points during the revolution) studying philosophy andmedicine with an emphasis on anthropology and paleontology, Mengele stated: "this simple political concept (fascism) finally became the decisive factor in my life". Mengele's new-found admiration for the "simple political concept" led him to mix his studies of medicine and politics as his career choice. Mengele received his PhD for a thesis entitled "Racial Morphological Research on the Lower Jaw Section of Four Racial Groups", which suggested that a person's race could be identified by the shape of the jaw. The Nazi organization saw his studies as talents, and Mengele was transferred to the German Auschwitz concentration camp located in occupied Poland on May 30, 1943. Contrary to common belief, Mengele was not the only doctor at Auschwitz nor was he even the highest-ranking physician: SS captain Dr. Eduard Wirths was the physician in charge at Auschwitz. There, Mengele organized genetic experiments on twins. The twins were arranged by age and sex and kept in barracks between experiments, which ranged from injection of different chemicals into the eyes of twins to see whether it would change their colour to literally sewing twins together in attempts to create conjoined twins.

Bone, muscle, and nerve transplantation experiments

From about September 1942 to about December 1943 experiments were conducted at the Ravensbrück concentration camp, for the benefit of the German Armed Forces, to study bonemuscle, and nerve regeneration, and bone transplantation from one person to another. Sections of bones, muscles, and nerves were removed from the subjects without use of anesthesia. As a result of these operations, many victims suffered intense agony, mutilation, and permanent disability.

Head injury experiments

In the summer of 1942 in BaranowiczePoland, experiments were conducted in a small building behind the private home occupied by NaziSD Security Service officer Dr. Wichtmann, in which "a young boy of eleven or twelve [was] strapped to a chair so he could not move. Above him was a mechanized hammer that every few seconds came down upon his head." The boy was driven insane from the torture.

Freezing experiments A cold water immersion experiment atDachau concentration camp presided over by Professor Ernst Holzlöhner (left) and Dr.Sigmund Rascher (right). The subject is wearing an experimental Luftwaffe garment

In 1941, the Luftwaffe conducted experiments with the intent of discovering means to prevent and treat hypothermia. One study forced subjects to endure a tank of ice water for up to five hours.

Another study placed prisoners naked in the open air for several hours with temperatures as low as -6°C (21°F). Besides studying the physical effects of cold exposure, the experimenters also assessed different methods of rewarming survivors.[

The freezing/hypothermia experiments were conducted for the Nazi high command to simulate the conditions the armies suffered on theEastern Front, as the German forces were ill-prepared for the cold weather they encountered. Many experiments were conducted on captured Russian troops; the Nazis wondered whether their genetics gave them superior resistance to cold. The principal locales were Dachau andAuschwitz. Dr Sigmund Rascher, an SS doctor based at Dachau, reported directly to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and publicised the results of his freezing experiments at the 1942 medical conference entitled "Medical Problems Arising from Sea and Winter".Approximately 100 people are reported to have died as a result of these experiments.

Malaria experiments

From about February 1942 to about April 1945, experiments were conducted at the Dachau concentration camp in order to investigate immunization for treatment of malaria. Healthy inmates were infected by mosquitoes or by injections of extracts of the mucous glands of female mosquitoes. After contracting the disease, the subjects were treated with various drugs to test their relative efficiency. Over 1,000 people were used in these experiments, and of those, more than half died as a result. 

Mustard gas experiments

At various times between September 1939 and April 1945, many experiments were conducted at SachsenhausenNatzweiler, and other camps to investigate the most effective treatment of wounds caused by mustard gas. Test subjects were deliberately exposed to mustard gas and other vesicants (e.g. Lewisite) which inflicted severe chemical burns. The victims' wounds were then tested to find the most effective treatment for the mustard gas burns.

Children of the Bullenhuser Damm show incisions where axillary lymph nodes had been surgically removed after they were deliberately infected with tuberculosis atNeuengamme. In a "cover-up" operation, all were murdered with their 4 adult Jewish caretakers and 6 Red Army POWs in the basement of the school on April 20, 1945 asBritish forces approached Sulfonamide experiments

From about July 1942 to about September 1943, experiments to investigate the effectiveness ofsulfonamide, a synthetic antimicrobial agent, were conducted at Ravensbrück.[17] Wounds inflicted on the subjects were infected with bacteria such as StreptococcusClostridium perfringens (the causative agent in gas gangrene) and Clostridium tetani, the causative agent in tetanus.Circulation of blood was interrupted by tying off blood vessels at both ends of the wound to create a condition similar to that of a battlefield wound. Infection was aggravated by forcing wood shavings and ground glass into the wounds. The infection was treated with sulfonamide and other drugs to determine their effectiveness.

Sea water experiments

From about July 1944 to about September 1944, experiments were conducted at the Dachau concentration camp to study various methods of making sea water drinkable. At one point, a group of roughly 90 Roma were deprived of food and given nothing but sea water to drink by Dr. Hans Eppinger, leaving them gravely injured.[13] They were so dehydrated that others observed them licking freshly mopped floors in an attempt to get drinkable water.

Sterilization experiments

From about March 1941 to about January 1945, sterilization experiments were conducted at Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, and other places by Dr. Carl Clauberg. The purpose of these experiments was to develop a method of sterilization which would be suitable for sterilizing millions of people with a minimum of time and effort. These experiments were conducted by means of X-raysurgery and various drugs. Thousands of victims were sterilized. Aside from its experimentation, the Nazi government sterilized around 400,000 individuals as part of its compulsory sterilization program. Intravenous injections of solutions speculated to contain iodine and silver nitrate were successful, but had unwanted side effects such as vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal pain, and cervical cancer. Therefore, radiation treatment became the favored choice of sterilization. Specific amounts of exposure to radiation destroyed a person’s ability to produce ova or sperm. The radiation was administered through deception. Prisoners were brought into a room and asked to complete forms, which took two to three minutes. In this time, the radiation treatment was administered and, unknown to the prisoners, they were rendered completely sterile. Many suffered severe radiation burns.

Experiments with poison

Somewhere between December 1943 and October 1944, experiments were conducted at Buchenwald to investigate the effect of various poisons. The poisons were secretly administered to experimental subjects in their food. The victims died as a result of the poison or were killed immediately in order to permit autopsies. In September 1944, experimental subjects were shot with poisonous bullets, suffered torture and often died.

]Incendiary bomb experiments

From around November 1943 to around January 1944, experiments were conducted at Buchenwald to test the effect of various pharmaceutical preparations on phosphorus burns. These burns were inflicted on prisoners using phosphorus material extracted from incendiary bombs.

High altitude experiments Further information: Hubertus Strughold

In early 1942, prisoners at Dachau concentration camp were used by Rascher in experiments to aid German pilots who had to eject at high altitudes. A low-pressure chamber containing these prisoners was used to simulate conditions at altitudes of up to 20,000 m (66,000 ft). It was rumored that Rascher performed vivisections on the brains of victims who survived the initial experiment. Of the 200 subjects, 80 died outright, and the others were executed.


Many of the subjects died as a result of the experiments conducted by the Nazis, while many others were murdered after the tests were completed to study the effect post mortem. Those who survived were often left mutilated, suffering permanent disability, weakened bodies, and mental distress. On August 19, 1947, the doctors captured by Allied forces were put on trial in USA vs. Karl Brandt et al., which is commonly known as the Doctors' Trial. At the trial, several of the doctors argued in their defense that there was no international law regarding medical experimentation.

The issue of informed consent had previously been controversial in German medicine in 1900, when Dr. Albert Neisser infected patients (mainly prostitutes) with syphilis without their consent. Despite Neisser's support from most of the academic community, public opinion, led by psychiatrist Albert Moll, was against Neisser. While Neisser went on to be fined by the Royal Disciplinary Court, Moll developed "a legally based, positivistic contract theory of the patient-doctor relationship" that was not adopted into German law. Eventually, the minister for religious, educational, and medical affairs issued a directive stating that medical interventions other than for diagnosis, healing, and immunization were excluded under all circumstances if "the human subject was a minor or not competent for other reasons" or if the subject had not given his or her "unambiguous consent" after a "proper explanation of the possible negative consequences" of the intervention, though this was not legally binding.

In response, Drs. Leo Alexander and Andrew Conway Ivy drafted a ten point memorandum entitled Permissible Medical Experiment that went on to be known as the Nuremberg Code. The code calls for such standards as voluntary consent of patients, avoidance of unnecessary pain and suffering, and that there must be a belief that the experimentation will not end in death or disability. The Code was not cited in any of the findings against the defendants and never made it into either German or American medical law.


Jewish Skeleton Collection

The Jewish skeleton collection was an attempt by the Nazis to create ananthropological display to showcase the alleged racial inferiority of the "Jewish race" and to emphasize the Jews status as untermenschen as opposed to the Germanrace which the Nazis considered to be Aryan ubermenschen. The collection was to be housed at the Anatomy Institute at the Reich University of Strasbourg in theAlsace region of Occupied France, where the initial preparation of the corpses was performed. The collection was sanctioned by Reichsführer of the SS Heinrich Himmler, and under the direction of August Hirt with Rudolf Brandt and Wolfram Sievers, general manager of the Ahnenerbe, being responsible for procuring and preparing the corpses.

Originally the "specimens" to be used in the collection were to be Jewish commisarsin the Red Army captured on the Eastern front by the Wermacht. The individuals ultimately chosen for the collection were obtained from among a pool of 115 Jewish inmates at Auschwitz concentration camp in Occupied Poland. They were chosen for their perceived stereotypical racial characteristics. The initial selections and preparations were carried out by SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr. Bruno Beger and Dr. Hans Fleischhacker, who arrived in Auschwitz in the first half of 1943 and finished the preliminary work by June 15, 1943.

Due to a typhus epidemic at Auschwitz, the candidates chosen for the skeleton collection were quarantined in order to prevent them from becoming ill and ruining their value as anatomical specimens; from a letter written by Sievers in June 1943: "Altogether 115 persons were worked on, 79 were Jews, 30 were Jewesses, 2 were Poles, and 4 were Asiatics. At the present time these prisoners are segregated by sex and are under quarantine in the two hospital buildings of Auschwitz."

Ultimately 87 of the inmates were shipped to Natzweiler-Struthof, 46 of these individuals were originally from Thessaloniki, Greece. The deaths 86 of these inmates was, in the words of Hirt, "induced" at a jury rigged gassing facility at Natzweiler-Struthof and their corpses; 57 men and 29 women, were sent to Strasbourg, one male victim was shot as he fought to keep from being gassed. Josef Kramer, acting commandant of Natzweiler-Struthof (who would become the commandant at Auschwitz and the last commandant of Bergen Belsen) personally carried out the gassing of 80 of these 86 victims. In 1944 with the approach of the allies, there was concern over the possibility of the corpses being discovered, at this point they had still not been defleshed. The first part of the process for this "collection" was to make anatomical casts of the bodies prior to reducing them to skeletons. In September, 1944 Sievers telegrammed Brandt: "The collection can be defleshed and rendered unrecognizable. This, however, would mean that the whole work had been done for nothing-at least in part-and that this singular collection would be lost to science, since it would be impossible to make plaster casts afterwards."

In February 1942, Sievers submitted to Himmler, through Rudolf Brandt, a report from which the following is an extract read at the Nuremberg Doctors Trial by General Telford Taylor, Chief Counsel for the prosecution at Nuremberg: Wolfram Sievers

"We have a nearly complete collection of skulls of all races and peoples at our disposal. Only very few specimens of skulls of the Jewish race, however, are available with the result that it is impossible to arrive at precise conclusions from examining them. The war in the East now presents us with the opportunity to overcome this deficiency. By procuring the skulls of the Jewish-Bolshevik Commissars, who represent the prototype of the repulsive, but characteristic subhuman, we have the chance now to obtain a palpable, scientific document.

"The best, practical method for obtaining and collecting this skull material could be handled by directing the Wehrmacht to turn over alive all captured Jewish-Bolshevik Commissars to the Field Police. They in turn are to be given special directives to inform a certain office at regular intervals of the number and place of detention of these captured Jews and to give them special close attention and care until a special delegate arrives. This special delegate, who will be in charge of securing the 'material' has the job of taking a series of previously established photographs, anthropological measurements, and in addition has to determine, as far as possible, the background, date of birth, and other personal data of the prisoner. Following the subsequently induced death of the Jew, whose head should not be damaged, the delegate will separate the head from the body and will forward it to its proper point of destination in a hermetically sealed tin can especially produced for this purpose and filled with a conserving fluid.

"Having arrived at the laboratory, the comparison tests and anatomical research on the skull, as well as determination of the race membership of pathological features of the skull form, the form and size of the brain, etc., can proceed. The basis of these studies will be the photos, measurements, and other data supplied on the head, and finally the tests of the skull itself."

Victim Elisabeth Klein (b. 1901 Vienna,Austria)

Brandt and Sievers would be indicted, tried and convicted in the Doctors' Trial in Nuremberg and both were hanged in Landsberg Prison on June 2, 1948. Hirt committed suicide in SchonenbachAustria, on June 2, 1945 with a gunshot to the head. Josef Kramer was convicted of war crimes and hanged in Hamelin prison by noted British executioner Albert Pierrepoint on December 13, 1945. In 1974 Bruno Berger was convicted by a West German court as an accessory to 86 murders for his role in procuring the victims of the Jewish skeleton collection. He was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, the minimum sentence, but did not serve any time in prison. According to his family, Beger died in Königstein im Taunus on October 12, 2009.

For many years only a single victim, Menachem Taffel (prisoner no. 107969) a Polish born Jew who had been living in Berlin- was positively identified, through the efforts of Serge and Beate Klarsfeld. In 2003 Dr. Hans-Joachim Lang, a German professor at the University of Tübingen succeeded in identifying all the victims, by comparing a list of inmate numbers of the 86 corpses at Strasbourg (surreptitiously recorded by Hirts' French assistant Henri Herypierre) with a list of numbers of inmates vaccinated at Auschwitz. The names and biographical information of the murder victims were published in the book Die Namen der Nummern (The Names of the Numbers). In 1951 the remains of the 86 victims were reinterred in one location in the Cronenbourg-Strasbourg Jewish Cemetery. On Dec. 11, 2005, memorial stones engraved with the names of the 86 victims were placed at the cemetery. One is at the site of the mass grave, the other along the wall of the cemetery. Another plaque honoring the victims was placed outside the Anatomy Institute at Strasbourg's University Hospital.


Erwin Ding-Schuler

Erwin Oskar Ding-Schuler (September 19, 1912 in Bitterfeld — August 11, 1945 inFreising) was a German surgeon and an officer in the Waffen-SS who attained the rank ofSturmbannführer (Major). He is notable for having performed experiments on inmates of the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Ding-Schuler joined the NSDAP in 1932 and the SS in 1936. In 1937 he received his degree and passed his second state exam in medicine. An author of scientific publications, in 1939 he became camp physician at Buchenwald and head of the division for spotted fever and viral research of the Waffen-SS Hygiene Institute in Weimar-Buchenwald. Until 1945 he conducted extensive medical experiments (on some 1,000 inmates, many of whom lost their lives) in Experimental Station Block 46, using various poisons as well as infective agents for spotted fever,yellow feversmallpoxtyphus, and cholera.

Erwin Ding-Schuler committed suicide on 11 August 1945.


Josef Mengele

Josef Rudolf Mengele (German pronunciation: [?jo?z?f ??u?d?lf ?m????l?],[1] March 16, 1911 – February 7, 1979), also known as the Angel of Death (German:Todesengel), was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He earned doctorates in anthropology from Munich University and in medicine from Frankfurt University. He initially gained notoriety for being one of the SS physicians who supervised the selection of arriving transports of prisoners, determining who was to be killed and who was to become a forced laborer, but is far more infamous for performing grisly human experiments on camp inmates, including children, for which Mengele was called the "Angel of Death."

In 1940, he was placed in the reserve medical corps, after which he served with the5th SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking in the Eastern Front. In 1942, he was wounded at the Soviet front and was pronounced medically unfit for combat, and was then promoted to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) for saving the lives of three German soldiers. He survived the war, and after a period living incognito in Germany he fled to South America, where he evaded capture for the rest of his life despite being hunted as a Nazi war criminal.

n May 1943, Mengele replaced another doctor who had fallen ill at the Nazi extermination camp Birkenau. On May 24, 1943, he became medical officer of Auschwitz-Birkenau's "Gypsy camp". In August 1944, this camp was liquidated and all its inmates gassed.[8] Subsequently Mengele became Chief Medical Officer of the main infirmary camp at Birkenau. He was not the Chief Medical Officer of Auschwitz, though: his superior was SS-Standortarzt (garrison physician) Eduard Wirths.

During his 21-month stay at Auschwitz, Mengele earned the sobriquet "Angel of Death" for the cruelty he visited upon prisoners. Mengele was referred to as "der weiße Engel" ("the White Angel") by camp inmates because when he stood on the platform inspecting new arrivals and directing some to the right, some to the left (the gas chambers), his white coat and white arms outstretched evoked the image of a white angel. Mengele took turns with the other SS physicians at Auschwitz in meeting incoming prisoners at the camp, where it was determined who would be retained for work and who would be sent to the gas chambers immediately. In one instance, he drew a line on the wall of the children's block 150 centimetres (about 5 feet) from the floor, and children whose heads could not reach the line were sent to the gas chambers.

"He had a look that said 'I am the power,'" said one survivor. When it was reported that one block was infested with lice, Mengele ordered the 750 women that lived inside the dormitories to be gassed.

Human experimentation Block 10 – Medical experimentation block in Auschwitz

Mengele used Auschwitz as an opportunity to continue his research on heredity, using inmates forhuman experimentation. He was particularly interested in identical twins; they would be selected and placed in special barracks. He recruited Berthold Epstein, a Jewish pediatrician, and Miklós Nyiszli, a Hungarian pathologist, to assist with his experiments.

As a doctor, Epstein proposed to Mengele a study into treatments of the disease called noma that was noted for particularly affecting children from the camp. While the exact cause of noma remains uncertain, it is now known that it has a higher occurrence in children suffering frommalnutrition and a lower immune system response. Many develop the disease shortly after contracting another illness such as measles or tuberculosis.

Mengele took an interest in physical abnormalities discovered among the arrivals at the concentration camp. These included dwarfs, notably the Ovitz family – the children of a Romanianartist, seven of whom were dwarfs. Prior to their deportation, they toured in Eastern Europe as theLilliput Troupe. Mengele often called them "my dwarf family"; to him they seemed to be the perfect expression of "the abnorm".

Mengele's experiments also included attempts to change eye colour by injecting chemicals into children's eyes, various amputations of limbs, and other surgeriesRena Gelissen's account of her time in Auschwitz details certain experiments performed on female prisoners around October 1943. Mengele would experiment on the chosen girls, performing sterilization and shock treatments. Most of the victims died, because of either the experiments or later infections.

"Once Mengele's assistant rounded up 14 pairs of Roma twins during the night. Mengele placed them on his polished marble dissection table and put them to sleep. He then injected chloroform into their hearts, killing them instantly. Mengele then began dissecting and meticulously noting each piece of the twins' bodies."

At Auschwitz, Mengele did a number of studies on twins. After an experiment was over, the twins were usually killed and their bodies dissected. He supervised an operation by which two Roma children were sewn together to create conjoined twins; the hands of the children became badly infected where the veins had been resected; this also caused gangrene.

The subjects of Mengele's research were better fed and housed than ordinary prisoners and were, for the time being, safe from the gas chambers, although many experiments resulted in more painful deaths. When visiting his child subjects, he introduced himself as "Uncle Mengele" and offered them sweets. Some survivors remember that despite his grim acts, he was also called "Mengele the protector".

The book Children of the Flames, by Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Shiela Cohn Dekel, chronicles Mengele's medical experimental activities on approximately 1,500 pairs of twins who passed through the Auschwitz death camp during World War II until its liberation at the end of the war. Only 100 pairs of twins survived;  60 years later, they came forward about the special privileges they were given in Auschwitz owing to Mengele's interest in twins, and how as a result they have suffered, as the children who survived his medical experiments and injections.

Mengele also sought out pregnant women, on whom he would perform vivisections before sending them to the gas chambers.

Auschwitz prisoner Alex Dekel has said: "I have never accepted the fact that Mengele himself believed he was doing serious work – not from the slipshod way he went about it. He was only exercising his power. Mengele ran a butcher shop – major surgeries were performed withoutanaesthesia. Once, I witnessed a stomach operation – Mengele was removing pieces from the stomach, but without any anaesthetic. Another time, it was a heart that was removed, again without anaesthesia. It was horrifying. Mengele was a doctor who became mad because of the power he was given. Nobody ever questioned him – why did this one die? Why did that one perish? The patients did not count. He professed to do what he did in the name of science, but it was a madness on his part."

"He was capable of being so kind to the children, to have them become fond of him, to bring them sugar, to think of small details in their daily lives, and to do things we would genuinely admire.... And then, next to that,... the crematoria smoke, and these children, tomorrow or in a half-hour, he is going to send them there. Well, that is where the anomaly lay." — Auschwitz prisoner doctor

After Auschwitz

The SS abandoned the Auschwitz camp on January 27, 1945, and Mengele transferred to Gross Rosen camp in Lower Silesia, again working as camp physician. Gross Rosen was dissolved at the end of February when the Red Army was close to taking it. Mengele worked in other camps for a short time and, on May 2, joined a Wehrmacht medical unit led by Hans Otto Kahler, his former colleague at the Institute of Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Bohemia. The unit hurried west to avoid being captured by the Soviets and were taken as prisoners of war by the Americans. Mengele, initially registered under his own name, was released in June 1945 with papers giving his name as "Fritz Hollmann". From July 1945 until May 1949, he worked as a farmhand in a small village near Rosenheim, Bavaria, staying in contact with his wife and his old friend Hans Sedlmeier, who arranged Mengele's escape to Argentina via InnsbruckSterzingMeran, and Genoa. Mengele may have been assisted by the ODESSA network.

In South America

In Buenos Aires, Mengele at first worked in construction, but soon came in contact with influential Germans, who allowed him an affluent lifestyle in subsequent years. He also got to know other Nazis in Buenos Aires, such as Hans-Ulrich Rudel and Adolf Eichmann. In 1955, he bought a 50 percent share of Fadro Farm, a pharmaceutical company; the same year, he divorced his wife, Irene. Three years later, he married Martha Mengele in Uruguay, the widow of his younger brother, Karl Jr.; she then went to Argentina with her 14-year-old son, Dieter. Mengele lived with his family in a German-owned boarding house in the Buenos Aires suburb of Vicente Lopez from 1958 to 1960. While in Buenos Aires, Mengele practiced medicine, specializing in illegal abortions, and was briefly detained by police on one occasion for the death of a patient during an abortion.

Mengele's home in Hohenau, Paraguay

He was doing well in South America, yet Mengele feared being captured, especially after news of Eichmann's capture and subsequent trial were revealed. Thus, he left Argentina in 1962 and moved to Paraguay after managing to get a Paraguayan passport in the name of "José Mengele".

Shortly after the capture of Eichmann in May 1960 by the Israeli Mossad, Mengele was spotted at his home. Agents of Mossad debated whether or not also to kidnap him. However, they still had Eichmann in a safe house inside Argentina, and determined that it would not be possible to conduct another operation at the same time. By the time Eichmann had been brought out of the country, Mengele had escaped to Paraguay.

Isser Harel, Chief Executive of the Secret Services of Israel (1952–1963), personally presided over the successful effort to capture Eichmann in Buenos Aires. In his account of the operation, he reports no sightings of Mengele in 1960, but feels that they might have got him if they could have moved more quickly. When asked about the secondary target by the co-pilot who helped transport Eichmann at the time, he claims to have told him that "had it been possible to start the operation several weeks earlier, Mengele might also have been on the plane." They checked on the last known location for Mengele in Argentina, but he had apparently moved on just two weeks prior.

Mengele hoped that Paraguay would be safer for him, as dictator Alfredo Stroessner was of German descent and even recruited former Nazis to help the country develop. Among other locations in Paraguay, he lived on the outskirts of Hohenau, a German colony north of Encarnaciónin the department of Itapúa.

According to a senior Mossad man, Israel had received reports that Mengele was in Brazil, but they kept this information to themselves. TheSix-Day War in 1967 forced concentration of resources. But after the war, Israel decided to open an embassy in Asunción, Paraguay – perhaps an ideal base from which to pursue Mengele. But Benjamin Weiser Varon, Israeli ambassador from 1968–1972, was "not given any instructions by the foreign office on Mengele of any kind. It wasn't even mentioned."

"I must confess I was not so eager to find Mengele. He presented a dilemma. Israel had less of a claim for his extradition than Germany. He was, after all, a German citizen who had committed his crimes in the name of the Third Reich. None of his victims were Israeli—Israel came into existence only several years later."

The same year, Mengele moved to Nova Europa, about 200 km (120 mi) outside São Paulo, where he lived with Hungarian refugees Geza and Gitta Stammer, working as manager of their farm. In the seclusion of his Brazilian hideaway Mengele was safe. In 1974, when his relationship with the Stammer family was coming to an end, Hans-Ulrich Rudel and Wolfgang Gerhard discussed relocating Mengele to Bolivia where he could spend time with Klaus Barbie, but Mengele rejected this proposal. Instead, he lived in a bungalow in a suburb of São Paulo for the last years of his life. In 1977, his only son Rolf, never having known his father before, visited him there and found an unrepentant Nazi who claimed that he "had never personally harmed anyone in his whole life".

Mengele's health had been deteriorating for years, and he died on February 7, 1979, in Bertioga, Brazil, where he accidentally drowned or possibly suffered a stroke while swimming in the Atlantic. He was buried in Embu das Artes under the name "Wolfgang Gerhard", whose ID card he had used since 1976.

Mengele showed little regret or remorse for his crimes, and expressed in a letter his astonishment and disgust over the remorseful position taken by Hitler's chief architect and Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer.

Argentine historian Jorge Camarasa speculated in his 2008 biography that Mengele, under the alias Rudolph Weiss, continued his human experimentation in South America and as a result of these experiments, a municipality in Brazil, Cândido Godói, has a very high birthrate of twin children: one in five pregnancies, with a substantial amount of the population looking Nordic. His theory was rejected by Brazilian scientists who had studied twins living in the area; they suggested genetic factors within that community as a more likely explanation.


Mengele was listed on the Allies' list of war criminals as early as 1944. His name was mentioned in the Nuremberg trials several times, but Allied forces were convinced that Mengele was dead, which was also claimed by Irene and the family in Günzburg. In 1959, suspicions had grown that he was still alive, given his divorce from Irene in 1955 and his marriage to Martha in 1958. An arrest warrant was issued by the German authorities. Subsequently, German attorneys such as Fritz Bauer, Israel's Mossad, and private investigators such as Simon Wiesenthal and Beate Klarsfeld followed the trail of the "Angel of Death". The last confirmed sightings of Mengele placed him in Paraguay, and it was believed that he was still hiding there, allegedly protected by flying ace Hans-Ulrich Rudel and possibly even by President Alfredo Stroessner. Mengele sightings were reported all over the world, but they turned out to be false.

In 1985, the German police raided Hans Sedlmeier's house in Günzburg and seized address books, letters, and papers hinting at the grave in Embu. The remains of "Wolfgang Gerhard" were exhumed on June 6, 1985 and identified as Mengele's with high probability by forensicexperts from UNICAMP. Rolf Mengele issued a statement saying that he "had no doubt it was the remains of his father". Everything was kept quiet "to protect those who knew him in South America", Rolf said. In 1992, a DNA test confirmed Mengele's identity. He had evaded capture for 34 years.

After the exhumation, the São Paulo Institute for Forensic Medicine stored his remains and attempted to repatriate them to the remaining Mengele family members, but the family rejected them. The bones have been stored at the São Paulo Institute for Forensic Medicinesince.


Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler

Elfriede Lohse Wächtler (December 4, 1899 in Dresden - July 31, 1940 in Pirna) was a German painter of the avant-garde whose works were banned as "degenerate art", and in some cases destroyed, by the Third Reich. She was killed in a former psychiatric institution at Sonnenstein castle in Pirna under Action T4, a forced euthanasia program of Nazi Germany. Since 2000 a memorial center for the T4 program in the house commemorates her life and work in a permanent exhibition.


Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler grew up in a middle-class family, but left at the age of 16 to study at the Royal Arts School Dresden from 1915 to 1918 (fashion, then applied graphics). From 1916 to 1919, she also attended drawing and painting courses at the Dresden Art Academy. She came into contact with the Dresden Secession group 1919 and became part of the circle of friends around Otto Dix, Otto Griebel, and Conrad Felixmüller. Renting part oft the studio of the latter near the Dresden city center she made a living with batiks, postcards and illustrations.

In June 1921 she married the painter and opera singer Kurt Lohse, following him to Görlitz in 1922 and in 1925 to Hamburg. The marriage was a difficult one and the couple separated several times in the following years. In 1926 Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler joined the Federation of female Hamburgian artists and art lovers, in 1928 she was able to participate in some exhibitions of the New Objectivity.

In 1929 she suffered a nervous breakdown because of financial and partnership difficulties and was committed to a psychiatric institution in Hamburg-Friedrichsberg. During the two months' stay she painted the Friedrichsberg heads, a piece of work consisting of about 60 drawings and pastels, mainly portraits of fellow patients. After her recovery and a final separation from Kurt Lohse, she had a very creative phase. She painted numerous paintings of Hamburg's harbor, scenes from the life of workers and prostitutes, and pitiless self-portraits. But despite some exhibitions, sales, and smaller grants, she lived in grinding poverty.

Due to financial problems and increasing social isolation, she returned to her parents' home in Dresden by midyear 1931. When her mental state worsened her father admitted her to the state mental home at Arnsdorf in 1932. There she was diagnosed schizophrenia. From 1932 to 1935 she was still creatively active, drawing portraits and creating arts and crafts. After Kurt Lohse divorced her in May 1935 she was incapacitated due to "incurable insanity".

After refusing to consent to a sterilisation she was denied the permission to go out of the hospital any more. In December 1935, she underwent a forced surgical sterilisation in the Dresden-Friedrichstadt women's hospital on the grounds of Nazi eugenicist policies. After this traumatic life event she never painted again. In 1940 she was deported to the former psychiatric institution at Pirna-Sonnenstein (located in the Sonnenstein castle in Pirna), where, on July 31, she was murdered along with the majority of the other residents as part of the Nazi euthanasia program Action T4. The official cause of death was "pneumonia with myocardial insufficiency". In the years of 1940 and 1941 a total of 13720 mainly mentally ill or handicapped people were gassed by Nazis in this institution formerly well-known for its humanistic traditions.



Result of a medical experiment on a prisoner. Buchenwald concentration camp, Germany, date uncertain.

A victim of Nazi medical experiments. Buchenwald concentration camp, Germany, date uncertain.

Medical personnel experiment on a prisoner at the Buchenwald concentration camp. Buchenwald, Germany, date uncertain.

A victim of a Nazi medical experiment is immersed in icy water at the Dachau concentration camp. SS doctor Sigmund Rascher oversees the experiment. Germany, 1942. 

A prisoner in a compression chamber loses consciousness (and later dies) during an experiment to determine altitudes at which aircraft crews could survive without oxygen. Dachau, Germany, 1942.

A Romani (Gypsy) victim of Nazi medical experiments to make seawater potable. Dachau concentration camp, Germany, 1944. 

A Romani (Gypsy) victim of Nazi medical experiments to make seawater potable. Dachau concentration camp, Germany, 1944. 

A Soviet prisoner of war, victim of a tuberculosis medical experiment at Neuengamme concentration camp. Germany, late 1944.

A Jewish child is forced to show the scar left after SS physicians removed his lymph nodes. This child was one of 20 Jewish children injected with tuberculosis germs as part of a medical experiment. All were murdered on April 20, 1945. Neuengamme concentration camp, Germany, between December 1944 and February 1945.

Seven-year-old Jacqueline Morgenstern, later a victim of tuberculosis medical experiments at the Neuengamme concentration camp. She was murdered just before the liberation of the camp. Paris, France, 1940.

A war crimes investigation photo of the disfigured leg of a survivor from Ravensbrueck, Polish political prisoner Helena Hegier (Rafalska), who was subjected to medical experiments in 1942. This photograph was entered as evidence for the prosecution at the Medical Trial in Nuremberg. The disfiguring scars resulted from incisions made by medical personnel that were purposely infected with bacteria, dirt, and slivers of glass.

Victims of Dr. Josef Mengele's medical experiments at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Poland, 1944. 

Eduard, Elisabeth, and Alexander Hornemann. The boys, victims of tuberculosis medical experiments at Neuengamme concentration camp, were murdered shortly before liberation. Elisabeth died of typhus in Auschwitz. The Netherlands, prewar.

Soviet soldiers inspect a box containing poison used in medical experiments. Auschwitz, Poland, after January 27, 1945.

United Nations personnel vaccinate an 11-year-old concentration camp survivor who was a victim of medical experiments at the Auschwitz camp. Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp, Germany, May 1946.

Four Polish women arrive at the Nuremberg train station to serve as prosecution witnesses at the Doctors Trial. From left to right are Jadwiga Dzido, Maria Broel-Plater, Maria Kusmierczuk, and Wladislawa Karolewska. December 15, 1946.

Josef Mengele, German physician and SS captain. In 1943, he was named SS garrison physician (Standortartz) of Auschwitz. In that capacity, he was responsible for the differentiation and selection of those fit to work and those destined for gassing. Mengele also carried out human experiments on camp inmates, especially twins. Place and date uncertain. 

Nazi physician Carl Clauberg, who performed medical experiments on prisoners in Block 10 of the Auschwitz camp. Place and date uncertain.

Friedrich Hoffman, holding a stack of death records, testifies about the murder of 324 Catholic priests who were exposed to malaria during Nazi medical experiments at Dachau concentration camp. Dachau, Germany, November 22, 1945.

Wladislava Karolewska, a victim of medical experiments at the Ravensbrueck camp, was one of four Polish women who appeared as prosecution witnesses at the Doctors Trial. Nuremberg, Germany, December 22, 1946.

Concentration camp survivor Jadwiga Dzido shows her scarred leg to the Nuremberg court, while an expert medical witness explains the nature of the procedures inflicted on her in the Ravensbrück concentration camp on November 22, 1942. The experiments, including injections of highly potent bacteria, were performed by defendants Herta Oberheuser and Fritz Ernst Fischer. December 20, 1946. 

Waldemar Hoven, head SS doctor at the Buchenwald concentration camp, during his trial before an American military tribunal. Hoven conducted medical experiments on prisoners. Nuremberg, Germany, June 23, 1947.

Herta Oberhauser, who was a physician at the Ravenbrueck concentration camp, is sentenced at the Doctors Trial in Nuremberg. Oberhauser was found guilty of performing medical experiments on camp inmates and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Nuremberg, Germany, August 20, 1947.

Victor Brack, one of the Nazi doctors on trial for having conducted medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners. Nuremberg, Germany, August 1947.


Contributor: bgill
Created: October 13, 2011 · Modified: October 13, 2011

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