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Nazi Medicine and Nazi Doctors


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Nazi Doctors & Other Perpetrators of Nazi Crimes

Dr. Heinrich Berning
An associate professor at Hamburg University, Berning lead the "famine experiments" on Soviet prisoners. While the prisoners starved to death, he observed their bodily functions degrade; this included loss of libido, dizziness, headaches, edema and swelling of the lower abdomen (Annas & Grodin, 1992). Berning then published his results after the war.
Dr. Philip Bouhler
Bouhler was the head of the early euthanasia program (otherwise known as the T4 program) along with Himmler.
Dr. Viktor Brack
Brack formulated ideas for experiments with Himmler. Brack was very interested in assembly line sterilizations and castration. He wanted to be in charge of the x-ray experiments at Auschwitz, but Himmler choose Schumann to be in charge over Brack.
Dr. Karl Brandt
Brandt was a personal physician to Hitler and one of the main defendants in the "Trial of Twenty-Three".
Dr. Carl Clauberg
Clauberg conducted sterilization and castration experiments along with Horst Schumann at Auschwitz.  He tried to look for cheap and fast ways of sterilization and found that x-rays worked quite well. Clauberg tried to artificially inseminate women with numerous things. He injected caustic substances into womens' cervixes to disturb the fallopian tubes (Lifton, 1986). One of the substances he would inject into the women with formalin, novocain, progynon and prolusion to terminate their pregnancies. Block ten at Auschwitz was know as Clauberg's block.
Dr. Leonardo Conti
Conti was chief physician of the Third Reich. He was responsible for the killing of a large number of Germans of "unsound mind"(Snyder, 1976).
Dr. Dering
At Auschwitz, Dering removed ovaries after Schumann's x-ray applications by cutting horizontal lines above the pubic area (instead of cutting by the abdominal opening), which put the patient more at risk for infection   (Lifton, 1986). After the operation, he sent the ovaries to the labs to ascertain how effective the x-rays were in destroying the tissue.
Dr. Auther Dietzsch
A doctor at Buchenwald, Dietzsch suggested that Dr. Ding (Schuler) inject typhus patients with fresh blood; this killed them.
Dr. Ding (Schuler)
He tried to immunize patients that had typhus by giving them fresh blood at Buchenwald; this resulted in their deaths. He also gave patients typhus in order to perform other ineffective "curative" experiments on them.
Dr. Arnold Dohmen
Dohmen worked with Kurt Gutzeit at Auschwitz and began experimenting primarily with animals. He was convinced by Gutzeit to do human experiments and infected eleven Jewish children with hepatitis and punctured their livers ( Annas & Grodin, 1992). This heinous act had no scientific benefit whatsoever.
Dr. Eisele
Eisele was a doctor at Buchenwald who conducted vivisections. He also injected many patients with apomorphine to observe them vomiting. He performed many unnecessary operations and amputations and then murdered his patients (Hackett, 1995). Dr. Eisele was said to have killed at least 300 people.
Dr. Ellenback
Ellenback was employed by the Department for Blood Preservation at the Berlin SS Hospital at Buchenwald. He studied the oxygen levels of blood samples that were taken from patients doing certain activities and exercise.
Dr. Berthhold Epstien
Epstien was a prisoner pediatrician who helped Mengele with his work on the treatment of Noma (gangrene to the face and mouth). Noma is most often fatal but Epstien used the results of the experiments to help some children and adolescents recover.
Dr. Koersten Felix
Felix was a doctor who treated national socialist leaders (Snyder, 1975).
Dr. Finke
Finke was a professor at the University of Keil and worked closely with Dr. Sigmund Rascher in the Hypothermia experiments at Dachau. He wrote a lengthy research report (along with Dr. Holzloehner) named "Freezing Experiments with Human Beings." Some of the findings were said to be false or made up, but he delivered his findings from the experiments to other physicians at a Nuremberg medical conference (Fischer,1995).
Dr. Karl Gebhart
Gebhart inflicted wounds upon his women patients at Ravensbruck and then injected sulfanilamide into the wounds. This experiment was fatal to all of the women.
Dr. Erwin Gohrbandt
Gohrbandt was a high-ranking top surgeon in Germany. As the Director of Surgery at the University Clinic of Berlin, he was the chief medical  advisor for aeronautical medicine at the Luftwaffe's Sanitary Services Division (Annas & Grodin, 1992). He participated in theDachau Hypothermia Experiments and then published a report on them in a leading surgical journal.
Johannes Golbel
Golbel was Dr. Clauberg's assistant and he helped Clauberg improve the X-ray tracing material. He was allowed to perform many injections, even though he was not a doctor.
Irma Grese
Grese was a concentration camp guard at Auschwitz. She was also known as the "Blond Angel of Death." At Auschwitz, Grese was placed in charge of 18,000 female prisoners where she "beat prisoners without mercy and both watched and helped medical experiments"(Snyder, 1975). Irma Grese was especially fond of the operations that dealt with the removal of womens' breasts (Snyder, 1975). She had affairs with quite a few doctors at Auschwitz including Mengele, and was condemned to death after the war.
Dr. Kurt Gutzeit
Gutzeit was a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at the University of Breslau. Gutzeit was one of the doctors who headed the hepatitis experiments performed on Jewish children at Auschwitz. When his assistant, Dr. Arnold Dohmen, tried to avoid the horrors of human experimentation by doing animal experiments, Gutzeit threatened that his too humane assistant needed to be woken up from his "animal-experiment lethargy"(Annas & Grodin, 1992).
Dr. Julius Hallervorden
Hallervorden was a neuropathologist at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research. He ordered hundreds of brains from the victims of the euthanasia project to be sent to him from the killing hospital, Brandenburg-Gorden (Annas   & Grodin, 1992).
Dr. Siegfried Handloser
Handloser was a lieutenant General and the chief doctor at Buchenwald. He oversaw all medical "treatments" performed there.
Dr. August Hirt
Hirt was a professor at the University of Strasbourg. He collected human heads of "Jewish-Bolshevik commissioners" to do "important" anthropological and anatomical studies (Fischner, 1995). Hirt was also a practicing surgeon assigned by Himmler to find an antidote for mustard gas. He prepared cyanide salts to kill Auschwitz prisoners and was an assistant on the Strasbourg project. He experimented on people and dogs as well as on himself.
Dr. Holzloehner
Holzloehner worked with Dr. Finke and with Dr. Rascher on the Dachau hypothermia experiments. Holzloehner was a professor at the University of Keil and wrote (along with Finke) a research report called "Freezing Experiments with Human Beings". He then delivered his findings to other doctors at a Nuremberg medical conference.
Dr. Waldemar Hoven
Hoven was a physician at Buchenwald who gave his patients lethal injections to kill them.
Frau Ilse Koch
Kockwas also known as the "Bitch of Buchenwald." She was the wife of a camp commander and her hobby was to collect the skins of inmates, both dead and alive, if they had a tattoo she liked. Koch turned the skin into book covers, gloves, lampshades and other sorts of furniture (Fischer, 1995).
Dr. Hans Wilhelm Koning
Koning arranged for male schizoid inmates and healthy female inmates to have electroshock therapy, then gassed them afterwards.
Dr. Lolling
Lolling was a SS Colonel who collected human skin from all of the concentration camps for his own personal study.
Dr. Maudas
Maudas injected or administered liquid doses of the juice of the plant caladium seguinium into his patients. He performed X-ray sterilization at Auschwitz.
Dr. Joseph Mengele
Mengele was the most visible camp doctor at Auschwitz and was known as the "Angel of Death". He developed a theory that humans, like dogs, had pedigrees (Snyder, 1976). He performed vivisections, injected chemicals into living peoples' eyes to try to change them, and perpetrated many horrific twin studies (few of which demonstrated anything that could be considered remotely of value). He fled after the war and was never captured.
Dr. Theodor Morell
Morell was Hitler's personal physician and injection specialist.
Dr. Joachim Mrugowsky
Mrugowsky was the chief doctor at the Hygienic Institute of Waffen SS in Berlin. Mrugowsky was a key figure in the planning and carrying out of destructive medical experiments in many concentration camps (Lifton, 1986). Some of the experiments he   performed include the flawed and fatal efforts to try to find a typhus vaccine at Buchenwald and poisoned bullet experiments at Sachsenhausen.
Dr. Neuman
Neuman was a doctor at Buchenwald who experimented on people by vivisecting them and cutting pieces out of their livers.
Dr. Miklos Nyiszli
Nyiszli was in charge of the "special" dissection room at Auschwitz.
Dr. Plaza
Plaza was an SS captain at Buchenwald. Plaza killed many patients by lethal injection.
Dr. Adolf Porkorny
Porkorny was a retired man in military medicine who supported Clauberg's work on sterilization.
Dr. Sigmund Rascher
Rascher was a Luftwaffe captain as well as a doctor. He was in charge of many of the "military medical experiments" at Dachau including the hypothermia experiments (where 300 people were killed) and the high altitude experiments. He examined the brains of Jews after their skulls were split open (while fully conscious) to see the effects of high altitude on humans (Hackett, 1995).
Dr. Ferdinand Sauerbach
Sauerbach was a top surgeon who took a public vow to support Hitler and the Nazi party, but ended up denouncing them after the war (Snyder,1976).
Dr. Klaus Schilling
Schilling was in charge of the malaria experiments the Nazi's practiced on healthy people. Schilling also injected other tropical diseases into patients to examine the various stages of disease progression and compared the effects of the diseases on different blood groups.
Dr. Horst Schumann
Schumann conducted sterilization and castration experiments at Auschwitz. Schumann also performed typhus experiments by injecting people with blood from typhus patients and then attempting to cure the newly infected subjects. He worked at Block 30 in the womens' hospital, Birkenau, and invented a machine that gave sterilization and castration treatment to both men and women. Schumann also had a little device that he inserted into the patients rectum to stimulate the prostate and produce ejaculation (Lifton,19nn).
Dr. Wolfram Sievers
Sievers was a SS colonel and head of the SS Ahneneube and selected candidates for Dr. Hirt's experiments (Fischer,1995).   ieivers was also known as the "Nazi Bluebeard" for his grisly practices.
Dr. Hermann Stieve
Stieve was the director of the Institute of Anatomy at Berlin University. He conducted experiments on women prisoners from the Plotensee prison and at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. He examined the female menstrual cycle under stress, including looking at irregular bleeding that women manifested after they were informed that they would be executed (Annas & Grodin,19mm).
Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger
Stumpfegger was one of Hitler's personal physician who remained with him until his last days (Snyder, 1976). He also worked in a clinic under Dr. Karl Gebhardt.
Dr. Vaernet
Vaernet was a SS major and a doctor at Buchenwald. He experimented with ways to try to cure homosexuality by injecting synthetic hormones into mens' groins, hoping that this would alter their sex drives and preferences (Hackett, 1995).  Vaernet castrated fifteen men who all died as a result.
Dr. Helmuth Vetter
Vetter did pharmacological trials in Auschwitz and Mauthausen. He conducted medical experiments for Bayer using ruthenohal and 3582 to treat serious medical  conditions. Most of the time the patients died quickly.
Dr. Hermann Voss
Voss was a professor of anatomy at Posen University in Poland. He conducted experiments by collecting materials straight from the guillotine of the Posen Gestapo (Annas & Grodin, 1992). He also did experiments on the blood in the spleen and from these he wrote a text book called the "Voss-Herrlinger Book" from which almost every medical student in Germany learned (Annas & Grodin, 1992).
Dr. Wagner
Wagner was a Doctor at Buchenwald and did a dissertation on tattooing. Wagner selected people with tattoos to die and made furniture out of human skin and bones (Hackett, 1995).
Dr. Bruno Weber
Weber was the chief of the Hygienic Institute. Interested in the interactions between human blood types, he injected his patients with a variety of blood types to observe the effects. Weber took the blood from weak inmates or killed inmates by letting them bleed to death (Lifton, 1986).  He also gave patients various barbiturates and morphine derivatives to see if he could brain wash prisoners and use mind control (Lifton, 1986).
Dr. Edward Wirths
Wirths studied the pre-cancerous condition of the cervix and was the chief SS doctor at Auschwitz.
Dr. Helmut Wirths
Along with his brother, he studied pre-cancerous growths of the cervix at Auschwitz

The Twenty-Three Doctors on Trial at Nuremberg

The Indictments Were on Four Charges:
1) Common Design or Conspiracy
            2) War Crimes
            3) Crimes Against Humanity
            4) Membership in Criminal Organizations
Here are the Twenty-three names as taken from The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich by Louis L. Snyder.
Name Sentence   1) Becker-Freysing, Hermann     20 years   2) Beigelbock, Wilhelm  15 years   3) Blome, Kurt  Acquitted   4) Brack, Victor Death   5) Brandt, Karl Death   6) Brandt, Rudolf  Death   7) Fischner, Fritz  Life in prison   8) Gebhardt, Karl  Death   9) Genzken, Karl  Life in prison 10) Handloser, Siegfried  Life in prison 11) Hoven, Waldemar  Death 12) Mrugowsky, Joachim Death 13) Oberheuser, Herta  20 years 14) Pokorny, Adolf Acquitted 15) Poppendick, Helmut  10 years 16) Romberg, Hans Wolfgang  Acquitted 17) Rose, Gerhart Life in prison 18) Rostock, Paul Acquitted 19) Ruff, Siegfried  Acquitted 20) Schafer, Konrad  Acquitted 21) Schroder, Oskar Life in prison 22) Sievers, Wolfram Death  23) Welz, Georg August  Acquitted
Only 23 of the Nazi Doctors were put on trial and 7 of those were acquitted. Even the doctors that were sent to prison did not serve their full time.


George M. Weisz, MD
University of New South Wales, School of History, Sydney, Australia

This material was presented as an exhibition, Nazi Medicine, at the Sydney Jewish Museum in 2007
The curator was Mrs. Roslyn Sugerman.  The supervising historian was Prof. Konrad Kwiet

The Nazis, who seized power in Germany in 1933, believed in a doctrine of racial purity: “The German people, the Aryans’ mental powers exceed that of the other races.”… “We have to eliminate the degenerates.”

Adolf Hitler had stated in 1924, “The National Socialist State, using medical science, must see that only healthy people beget children.” In 1933, he appealed to doctors, “I can not do without you for a single day, not for a single hour.” In response, 44% of the profession enthusiastically joined the Nazi Party.

Nazi doctors played an important role in implementing the Nazi government’s murderous programs - a four step ‘E-program’: eugenics, euthanasia, extermination and experimentation. 

Eugenics (‘beautiful genes’)

Eugenics predated the Nazis, who promoted it to prevent the ‘degeneration’ of the German Volk (people). In 1923, Professor Ernst Rüdin (Head of the Research Institute of Psychiatry in Munich) advocated sterilization of the ‘unfit’. In 1927, Prof. Otmar von Verschuer (Head of the Department of Human Heredity, Munich) demanded sterilization of the ‘mentally subhuman’. 

In 1933, Prof. Fritz Lenz (Head of the Department of Eugenics in Berlin) announced, “it is the will of Hitler that racial hygiene should be put into practice”. A ‘genetic purification’ process was implemented in the following stages:

The Sterilization Law, proclaimed in July 1933, sanctioned “the prevention of genetically diseased offspring with illnesses”. Two hundred ‘Genetic Health Courts’ were set up to assess people with ‘feeble-mindedness’, microcephaly (small heads), macrocephaly (big heads), schizophrenia, manic depression, epilepsy, spastic paralysis, Huntington's chorea (involuntary movements), Down's syndrome, facial, spinal and limb malformations (cleft lip/palate, spina bifida, club feet, etc.), congenital blindness or deafness, congenital syphilis and severe alcoholism.

In 1935, an amendment legalized 20,000 forced abortions, even in the late stages of pregnancy, on those with physical or mental disabilities. Marriage laws were introduced in 1935 to secure genetic health. 

In 1937 some 500 children of mixed origins were sterilized, being ‘Rhineland bastards’, offspring of the French African (North-African and Sub-Saharan) and Indo-Chinese occupying forces and German mothers after World War I.

By 1945, some 400,000 Germans had been forcibly sterilised.  Physicians helped to implement Nazi policies (Susan Bachrach, New England Journal of Medicine, 2004).


The ‘euthanasia’ centres

Euthanasia (‘merciful death’), or murder of the disabled

The state-sanctioned killing program provided for the murder of the mentally and physically disabled. With the outbreak of WWII, Adolf Hitler charged Dr. Karl Brandt, his personal physician, and Philip Bouhler, administrative Head of the Chancellery, with “the responsibility to extend the power of specific doctors in such a way…… that those suffering from incurable illnesses may be granted a mercy death”. The ‘euthanasia’ program took several successive ‘actions’.  At the start was the obligatory notification of ‘those with a life not worth living’.

Initially, the ‘children’s euthanasia’, performed in 30 German and one Austrian children’s hospitals, killed children by exposure to cold, starvation, or injection by doctors of morphine/ scopolamine with luminal or veronal (medication normally used as anaesthetics during surgery).

Soon the killings were conducted from 4 Tiergarten Street, Berlin, the Centre for the program named Aktion T4. The murders were extended to include teenagers and adults and were perpetrated in six German and Austrian institutions equipped with mobile gas vans or stationary gas installations and crematoria. Viktor Brack, head of Aktion T4, ordered that the “gassing should be performed only by physicians”.

Whilst the Aktion T4 program was officially halted by 1941, largely due to public protest, the killing continued by other means. The victims were starved or killed with morphine /scopolamine injections and the handicapped were killed by doctors and nurses in numerous hospitals and asylums. Relatives were told that the victims had died of illness.

This uncoordinated, decentralized killing was called ‘wild euthanasia’ (killing the physically malformed, the mentally disturbed or intellectually retarded or the ill-behaved at places other than the designated gassing centres) and was performed in Hadamar and Bernburg. (USHMM)

A parallel action, from 1941 until 1944, was Aktion 14-f-13 (at the order of Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS, the feared Schutzstaffel or ‘Defence squadron’). Concentration camp inmates unfit for physical work were designated for ‘special treatment’, namely to be killed in ‘euthanasia’ gassing centres. They were transported to the Bernburg, Sonnestein and Hartheim centres for killing. (USHMM)

More than 5,000 children and some 70,000 adults fell victim to the Aktion T4 program, and almost 120,000 in the combined ‘wild euthanasia’ and Aktion 14-f-13 program.

A total of 200,000 people were killed with the help of Nazi doctors, through starvation, exposure, narcotic ingestion, lethal injections and carbon monoxide gassing.


Doctor selecting on arrival in Auschwitz [Courtesy of Yad Vashem]

Exterminationthe genocide of European Jewry

Adolf Hitler had said in 1919, “Jewry, a racial association, will bring about racial tuberculosis of the Volk. The final objective of our policy must be the removal of the Jews altogether”. This policy led eventually to the ‘Final Solution’ or Holocaust, the murder of six million European Jews during World War II.  

In March 1943, the necessary staff and a doctor experienced in the killings in the ‘euthanasia’ program were transferred to the extermination camps. ‘Operation Reinhard’ commenced in conquered Poland: Jews were deported to Chelmo, Belzec, Treblinka, and Sobibor; and were killed with carbon monoxide gas. Zyklon-B gas was used later in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

It is estimated that six million Jews (including one-and-a-half million children) and 250,000-500,000 Romany (gypsies) were murdered.

Role of the doctors

Nazi doctors selected victims on arrival at the camps; they participated in the management of the camps, by being present during gassing and occasionally by giving phenol injections into the heart of patients kept at the medical block in Auschwitz.  According to Pastor Martin Niemoller, a prisoner from Dachau:  

First, they came for the Communists and I did not speak up because I was not a  Communist. Next they came for the Jews and I did not speak up for them because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics and I did not speak up because I was a Protestant.  Finally they came for me and there was no one to speak up for me anymore” Pastor Martin Niemoller, prisoner, Dachau

Experiments and deadly medicine 80 different kinds of experiments were carried out in camps, performed by approximately 400 doctors on 7,000 victims. Some experiments were conducted for military purposes, others out of genetic curiosity; some were based on racial fantasies. 

Survival and rescue ‘research’ Experiments tested bodily functions, adaptation to inhuman conditions, resuscitation measures and the ability to survive extremes. The ‘findings’ were meant to help save the lives of Air Force and Navy personnel.

Victim in low oxygen environment [courtesy US Holocaust Memorial Museum, USHMM]

High altitude experiments

In Dachau, victims were placed in chambers simulating the low oxygen pressures encountered in falling out, or bailing out, of aeroplanes. (Dr. Rascher).

The victims were ‘parachuted’ from various altitudes. At a simulated altitude of 13 km, they developed muscle spasms and became unconscious. At autopsy (post-mortem dissection), they were found to have air in the blood vessels of the brain and swelling of the brain; at 15 km ‘altitude’, they had difficulty breathing, turned blue, foamed at the mouth and then stopped breathing. At 30 km altitude, they went into an immediate coma. 70 out of the 200 victims did not survive the experiments.

Freezing experiments 

In Dachau, inmates were exposed to 9-15 hours of dry cold, in the outside winter environment, or to wet cold, through immersion for 1-4 hours at 3º-12º C in a water tank. Some were clothed, others naked. The ‘findings’ were to help save the lives of sailors and airmen who fell into the cold North Sea.

The doctors measured external and internal responses of the human ‘guinea pigs’: body temperature with thermometers on the skin, in the rectum or in the stomach; blood thickness, sugar content, fragility of red blood cells, changes in the urine and the time until death. Some were anaesthetized, others given alcohol, which was of no benefit.Blood thickness increased, causing clotting, the heart rate increased, consciousness became clouded, the pupils of the eyes dilated and stopped reacting to light. At a body temperature of 29º C, irregular heart beats appeared. After 50 minutes, at a body temperature of 25º C, the heart stopped.

Re-warming methods were tested to revive the frozen victims: blankets, bathing in warm or boiling water, sunlight, hot water irrigations in the stomach, rectum and bladder; human body-to-body contact (with one or two females), with forced sexual intercourse. 80 out of the 300 victims perished.

Victim immersed in icy water [Courtesy of Yad Vashem]

Sea-water experiments
In Dachau, the victims were mostly Romany. 90 inmates were selected, the number of deaths is unknown. 

Experiments with mustard gas 
Carried out in Sachsenhausen and Natzweiler camps. 50 of the 220 victims died.

Incendiary bomb (phosphor)
These experiments were carried out in Buchenwald camp. There were no deaths, but much pain and disfigurement.  


Poison experiments 
These were carried out on Russian prisoners in Buchenwald. All died and underwent autopsies. Exact numbers are not known.

Blood clotting experiments
 Performed in Dachau. The victims were given POLYGAL to clot the blood. Success was claimed, but was not confirmed in ethical post-war experiments.

Killing experiments  
Phenol injections were used in camps and ‘euthanasia’ centres. In Buchenwald camp, 150 prisoners were injected intravenously. All 150 victims died in minutes.

Experimentation related to infectious diseases 
Experimentation related to infectious diseases was carried out for the protection and treatment of soldiers.

Hepatitis (infectious jaundice) experiments were carried out in Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Natzweiler camps. Many victims died, others survived with permanent liver disease.

Typhus (spotted fever) is a disease caused by rickettsiae and transmitted by lice. In 1941 and in 1943-44, doctors experimented on 729 victims. 154 deaths were recorded. 

Similar tests were perpetrated on hundreds of victims infected with yellow fever, smallpox, paratyphoid A and B, cholera or diphtheria. 

Malaria was the subject of the largest experimentation, carried out in Dachau, involving 1,200 victims. Inoculated by mosquito bites (their hands held in cages full of infected insects), the victims were given various combinations of medications, quinine, neosalvarsan, pyramidon and antipyrine. 300 victims died, 30 from malaria, 270 from overdoses.

Pharmaceutical experiments and simulated battle wounds
In Auschwitz, 50 inmates had pus injected into their limbs, followed by a trial of three separate treatments: with sulphonamide, inert chemicals or surgery. The sulpha group survived, the rest suffered severe pain, fever and sepsis, and 19 died. 

Sulphonamide experiments were also performed in Ravensbrück women's camp, testing the effect on various bacteria (streptococcus, staphylococcus, tetanus), all causing bone infection (osteomyelitis). Legs were cut open, and cultures of the bacteria were forced into the wounds. The doctors inserted wood shavings, rusty nails and ground glass to facilitate the gas gangrene infection and tied off blood vessels to deprive the muscles of oxygen (creating the anaerobic conditions in which the bacteria were known to thrive). Many victims remained mutilated and many died.

Bone-tendon transplantation, muscle and nerve transplantation experiments
These experiments were performed in Ravensbrück. Arms and legs of prisoners were cut off and parts were implanted into other victims. Bone was removed and transplanted to the victim’s other leg or into other victims. Nerves were cut out to observe how they re-grew. 
Some 700 amputations were performed, 75 women victims remained invalids, 11 died.    

Experiments to ‘prove’ Jewish inferiority: injecting children with Tuberculosis
This experiment was carried out on 20 children, aged 5-12 years, transferred from Auschwitz to Neuengamme camp. Tuberculosis bacteria were injected into the veins and, through the windpipe, into the lungs, to prove the reduced resistance of an ‘inferior race’. This study, performed on emaciated children, and resulting in a rapid deterioration of the children's condition, was a brutal, non-scientific experiment, with inaccurate conclusions.


School, rebuilt after bombardment [Courtesy of KZ-Gedenkstatte Neuengamme]

Memorial plaque in the school garden (modified), with names and comment [Courtesy of KZ-Gedenkstatte Neuengamme

At the end of the war the German authorities decided that all traces of these experiments had to be eliminated. Two weeks before liberation, on 20 April 1945, the children were taken to Bullenhuser Damm School, injected with morphine, hanged on hooks in the basement and cremated.


Schematic illustration of hidden radiation on boys vs. girls[designed by R. Cupples]

Sterilization experiments 
Short-wave radiation to the lower abdomen of women over various length of time was studied. Severe abdominal pain resulted, and then the abdomen was opened, without anaesthetic, to allow for dissection. The method did not cause sterilization. Many women died.

X-ray and radium irradiation of the genitals of victims aged in their late teens or early twenties were performed in Auschwitz (Drs Schumann, Gebhardt). The dose required for immediate sterilization was assessed by subsequent removal, without anaesthetic, of the testicles or ovaries for examination. The dosage needed was found to be 500 rads for men and 300 for women.

The immediate effects of radiation were local skin burns and radiation sickness. Out of some 300 victims who survived, a delayed effect was reproductive sterility. Skin burns and radiation sickness made 100 prisoners incapable of work. They were put to death by poison gas.

A late effect, discovered 40 years later on, was cancer of the bowel (colon and rectum), published by Rotmensch and others in the medical journal CANCER (no. 57, 1986).  The later on published list of victims in whom the diagnoses were made:  Aliza B, Auschwitz no. 41544, Rigreta A, no 38968, Eleonora M, no 41579, Bella N, number unknown, Dora C, no. 38782, and Dora V, no 41624. The common factor was their exposure to radiation sterilization in 1942-1943. 

Intra-uterine injections
Hundreds of female prisoners were injected into their wombs with chemical agents which produced inflammation and blockage of the ovarian tubes.                                             

Schematic illustration of injection in uterus, with blockage in the left half.

With no anaesthetic, the chemicals introduced, causing excruciating pain, were caladium plant extract, carbolic acid, formalin, progynon (hormone), iodipirin (by Dr. Clauberg), or carbon dioxide. The inflammation of uterus, tubes and ovaries was immediate, causing perforation and peritonitis (infection in the abdominal cavity). Many of the 300 victims died.


Hereditary studies and irrational experiments
These experiments  were conducted to provide a ‘scientific’ basis for Nazi racist ideology and biological evidence for the extermination of ‘inferiors.’ In Auschwitz-Birkenau, Jews, before being gassed, were subjected to a wide range of tests by Dr. Mengele. Head, body and limbs were measured, for studies in proportions. Blood serology studies and x-rays were repeated on a daily basis.

Romanies, too, were subjected to these experiments. Body and head characteristics were recorded and blood differences studied. Eye color, particularly heterochromatic (eyes being of different colour) was studied in Sachsenhausen. The removed eyes were sent to the Berlin Museum for further studies.

Dr. Mengele experimented on twins to search for clues to multiple births, in order to increase the Aryan birth rate, and also to try to obtain the desired Aryan blue eyes. Drops containing blue dye were instilled into the victims’ eyes. Another experiment was with TB: bacteria were injected into one twin, then both twins were killed and autopsied to observe the different pathology. 14 pairs were killed by phenol injection. Out of more then 1,000 pairs of twins, only 200 survived the torture. 

Twin sisters from Prague, A. (Auschwitz no. 72890) and S. (no. 72919) who were interned aged 19, were exposed to repeat blood tests (serum protein research) and whole-body X-rays. They received blood transfusions from a pair of twin boys, leading to weeks of illness. The next intended stage in this experiment, copulation with the twin boys, was prevented by the advancing Russian troops.  Pregnancies could not have resulted in any event as the under-nourished girls had ceased their monthly cycles. The ‘scientist’ Dr. Mengele had not even inquired about the regularity of their cycles. Today the twins live in Melbourne, in reasonable physical health, but in constant mental anguish.

Twins Annetta Able & Stephanie Heller Age 19

Recent photo of twins Annetta Able & Stephanie Heller

Small people with a congenital growth defect (chondrodystrophy) called ‘dwarfs’, attracted the special interest of Dr. Mengele.  He wanted to prove that dwarfs were a ‘degenerated’ form of humans. Relatively well fed, they were extensively investigated for physical characteristics, exposed to repeated total body x-ray examinations, daily blood tests, spinal punctures and semen examinations. Ears were injected with cold or hot water and their reactions recorded. Their family trees were studied, and their forced sex life observed.


The little peoples’ family, with some normal sized siblings [Courtesy of USHMM]


In Our Hearts We Were Giants; The Remarkable Story of The Lilliput Troupe - A Dwarf Family’s Survival of the Holocaust  tells the story of the Ovitz family from Transylvania and their survival in Auschwitz.

Museum Collections


Collection of bones [Courtesy Yad Vashem}

The bone collectors
The Anatomy museum of Strasbourg University (Prof. Dr. August Hirt) collected 115 skeletons. 109 Jews, 2 Poles and 4 Russians in Auschwitz and Natzweiler were killed for their bones. 

The letter below, from the Anatomical Institute at the University of Posen, illustrates skeletons and facial masks being offered for sale to Dr Joseph Wastl, Director of Anthropology at the Natural History Museum, Vienna, (letter dated 4 March 1942):

In response to your inquiry, I am offering you skulls of Poles for the price of 25 Reich marks each. For the time being I can not supply you with skulls of Polish children. I can offer you Jewish skulls, 25-50 years old for the price of 25 Reich marks each and give you the exact age and birthplace. I could also make plaster busts of the quintessential eastern Jews for you that you can see the form of the head and the often very peculiar ears. 


Brain Histology from Euthanasia victim K.R. [Courtesy of WStLA Otto-Wagner Spital, Wien, previously Psychiatric Hospital Baumgartner Hohe Steinhof]

The brain collectors 

The Eidinger Institute of Brain Research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin collected children’s brains. A well-known neuropathologist, Prof. Dr. Julius Hallervorden, described a genetic, fatal disorder of the brain (proven later on to be due to an excessive iron deposit resulting from an enzyme deficiency). He had studied hundreds of brains, collected from euthanasia centres. The origin of the supplied brains, which were declared to be ‘wonderful material’, was known to the professor. He had even examined some of the children before their death in the euthanasia centre and had then done the autopsies. After 1945, he continued his successful scientific career. He was never tried in court and died in 1966, aged 84.

The eye collectors
Prof. Otmar von Verschuer, at the Berlin Institute of Human Heredity, collected eyes from Romany victims.

The skin collectors 
Jewish and Romany women were at the mercy of the pathologically sadistic female guards, Irma Grese in Auschwitz and Ilse Koch, wife of the commanding officer, in Buchenwald. Both were collectors of human skin to make lampshades, book covers, items of furniture and hand bags.

The justice meted out to the criminal doctors  

After the war, the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg sentenced seven Nazi doctors to hanging, six were acquitted, and eight were sentenced to 10-20 years imprisonment. The evolving Cold War left other indicted doctors at the benign mercy of ‘denazified’ judges. As a result, sentences were either nil or short prison terms. In the 1960s, with the new generation of judges, a few Nazi doctors were tried. 

Dr. Herta Oberheuser, involved in hundreds of limb amputations at Ravensbrück camp, was sentenced to 20 years, reduced to 10, and eventually to five. She resumed medical practice in 1952, until her license was revoked in 1958. 

Dr. Heissermeyer, the tuberculosis expert responsible for the children's tragedy, returned to practice his ‘lung specialty’ in Magdeburg, East Germany. He was tried 21 years later and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1966. He died in prison after 17 months, having served just three weeks for each child he had experimented on and killed. 

Dr. Irmfried Eberl, director of the Bernburg euthanasia centre, was the only doctor to be the commandant of an extermination camp (Treblinka). He evaded punishment by committing suicide in 1948.

Dr. Horst Schumann, who had experimented on hundreds of men and women with radiation sterilization, was acquitted in 1960, being ‘unfit for trial’ (high blood pressure), was again held in prison for one year in 1972, was then released and lived in Frankfurt until his death in 1983. 

Dr. Joseph Mengele, the ‘Angel of death’ in Auschwitz, escaped and lived in South America, where he died in 1979.

Dr. Eduard Wirth, chief medical officer at Auschwitz, committed suicide on his arrest in 1945. His brother, Dr Helmut Wirth, was never found.

Dr. Carl Vaernet, who attempted to ‘cure’ homosexuals with hormone injections or castration, was arrested and handed to the Dutch authorities for prosecution. He escaped and died in South America in 1965. 

Dr. Heinrich Gross, a Viennese psychiatrist, involved in euthanasia and in experiments on thousands of children, escaped prison on three occasions. He died in Vienna in 2005, aged 90.

The value and morality of Nazi experiments

The cold exposure (hypothermic) experiments were the ones most studied after the War. 
Robert Berger, a cardio-thoracic surgeon, concluded in perhaps the world’s most prestigious medical journal, The New England Journal of Medicine, in 1990:

The review of the hypothermia experiments in Dachau (shows that) they were fraudulent, unscientific and of no value………and morality would not permit their clinical application.

Indeed, the alleged effects of cooling on the heart tissue and on the brain have been disproved in many thousands of heart operations, performed since the advent of open heart surgery in the 1950s.

Nazi medicine remains the darkest page in the history of medicine.

GEORGE M. WEISZ, MD, FRACS was trained as an orthopedic and spinal surgeon in Israel, the USA and Canada. He has been in practice in Sydney since 1975. His interest in history and the arts led to a BA degree in European History at the University of New South Wales and to an MA in Renaissance Studies at the University of Sydney. As someone who had escaped the atrocities of World War II, his research has combined his two interests – history and medicine – looking at medical incompetence in early times and at the betrayal of medical ethics in modern times. In 2007 he authored a successful exhibition on Nazi Medicine at the Sydney Jewish Museum that then travelled to three other universities. His present research continues on both medical and historical lines, on ‘Ghetto Doctors’ Contributions to Medicine’ and on ‘Medical History Hidden in Renaissance Paintings’. He can be reached at



Carl Clauberg

Before WW2 Carl Clauberg was a well-respected Professor and gynaecological researcher with a successful medical career. But Clauberg, one of the most respected individuals in the German medical society, transformed at Auschwitz from a healer into a systematic killer.

Carl Clauberg was born in Wuppertal in 1898 into a craftsmen family. He participated in WWI as infantryman, later studied medicine and advanced to doctor-in-chief at the University gynaecological clinic in Kiel. He entered the NSDAP in 1933, and later he was appointed Professor for gynaecology at Koenigsberg University.

In December 1942, Carl Clauberg came to the death camp Auschwitz and received Block 10 for his medical experimental activities. At Auschwitz Professor Carl Clauberg injected chemical substances into wombs during his experiments. Thousands of Jewish and Gypsy women were subjected to this treatment. They were sterilized by the injections, producing horrible pain, inflamed ovaries, bursting spasms in the stomach, and bleeding. The injections seriously damaged the ovaries of the victims, which were then removed and sent to Berlin.

At Auschwitz victims were put into pressure chambers, tested with drugs, frozen to death, and exposed to various other traumas. Men and women were positioned repeatedly for several minutes between two x-ray machines aimed at their sexual organs.

Most subjects died or were gassed immediately because the radiation burns from which they suffered rendered them unfit for work. Men's testicles were removed and sent to Breslau for further examination.

Carl Clauberg was put to trial in the Soviet Union and sentenced to 25 years. 7 years later, he was pardoned under the "returnee" arrangement between Bonn and Moscow and went back to West Germany. Upon returning he held a press conference and boasted of his scientific work at Auschwitz.

After survivor groups protested, Clauberg was finally arrested in 1955 but died in August 1957, shortly before his trial should have started.


Dr. Herta Oberheuser


Dr. Herta Oberheuser killed 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 made some of the most gruesome and painful medical experiments, focused 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.

Burned with phosphorous

After WW2, in October 1946, the Nuremberg Medical Trial began, lasting until August of 1947. Twenty-three German physicians and scientists were accused of performing vile and potentially lethal medical experiments on concentration camps inmates and other living human subjects between 1933 and 1945.

Fifteen defendants were found guilty, and eight were acquitted. Of the 15, seven were given the death penalty and eight imprisoned.

Herta Oberheuser was the only female defendant in the medical trial. She received a 20 year sentence but was released in April 1952 and became a family doctor at Stocksee in Germany. Her license to practice medicine was revoked in 1958.

The Nadir of Nursing~ Nurse-Perpetrators of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp

Susan Benedict, CRNA, DSN, FAAN
Professor of Nursing
Medical University of South Carolina
99 Jonathan Lucas Street
Charleston, SC 29425
Associate Chief Nurse/Research
Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Charleston, SC 29425



This study was funded by a grant from the University Research Committee, Medical University of South Carolina.

Perhaps there is nothing more symbolic of the evils of National Socialism of Germany during the era of World War II than the concentration camps.  Originally established to house political prisoners, concentration camps eventually were used to imprison others who were not in agreement with the ideals of Nazi philosophy including political prisoners, communists, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and people of ethnic groups deemed to be Aundesirable such as Jews and Poles.  Prisoners of the camps, if they were able to work, were used as slave laborers. Others, because of age, having young children, or being ill, were put to death in gas chambers.  One of these camps, Ravensbrück, was the only one established especially for women.  It later had smaller sections for men and a youth camp, Uckermark.

The specific aim of this historical research is to describe the actions of some of the nurse-perpetrators of Ravensbrück, the consequences of these actions, and factors that determined or influenced these actions.  These facts and events are relevant to nursing today because nurses are committed to providing compassionate care to diverse populations, often under extremely difficult circumstances.  To understand factors which could lead nurses away from compassionate caring to malevolence is very important so that nurses can be aware of any harbinger of deviation from the caring role.

Ravensbrück Concentration Camp

The site of Ravensbrück concentration camp is just outside the town of Fürstenberg, Germany and is 55 miles from Berlin.   The area is secluded but has excellent rail connections to Berlin and is known as a boating resort.  Perhaps these geographical features, in addition to new housing, were an enticement to the SS (Schutzstaffel [storm troopers]) to work at Ravensbrück.

In 1938, 500 male prisoners from Sachsenhausen concentration camp were sent to construct Ravensbrück.  On May 18, 1939 the first prisoners for Ravensbrück arrived and consisted of 860 female German political prisoners and 7 Austrian women.  These 867 women had previously been imprisoned in Lichtenburg concentration camp.  Ravensbrück consisted of 14 living barracks, 2 administrative barracks, 2 Revier [hospital] barracks, 1 bath house with 20 showers, 2 circular showers for 100 prisoners, and 1 bunker (punishment block).    Each of the living barracks was designed to hold about 200 women.  The capacity of Ravensbrück was supposed to be a maximum of 4,000 inmates.1  Many nationalities and ethnic groups were represented, including English, Norwegian, and even American. 

There were a number of specialized barracks or Ablocks.  Block 10 housed the prisoners with tuberculosis and the mentally ill.  Block 17 held the prisoners known as the Aguinea pigs - the girls and young women used in the medical experiments - and Block 32 held the mothers with infants.2  By 1940, there were 4,200 prisoners in Ravensbrück.  The camp population increased from 5,000 to 14,000 inmates in the years 1940 through 1942.  In 1942, twelve new blocks were added to accommodate the increased inmate population.3

Much of the population of Ravensbrück was used for slave labor for corporations including Daimler-Benz, Siemens, and Dachalier Industries.  The corporations had to pay Ravensbrück two Reichmark (approximately $.80) per day for each prisoner employed.4  Additionally, Ravensbrück provided the women who were forced to be  prostitutes in the bordellos in the men's concentration camps at Mauthausen, Buchenwald, Neuengamme, and Dachau.  Before World War II ended and after the evacuation of Auschwitz, Ravensbrück's population grew to 108,000 and conditions were deplorable.5

Rations were of meager quantity and poor quality.  In the mornings, the prisoners were given a cup of coffee and 350 grams of bread.  This amount decreased to 150 grams by the end of the war.  At lunch they were given .75 liter of watery soup with cold potatos and, in the evening, another portion of watery soup.  Later, the soup was made from potato peelings and occasionally included 30 grams of sausage which was usually spoiled.2

Until 1943, the Revier was run by two SS physicians and several nurses employed by the National Socialist (Nazi) party.  One hundred fifty prisoners also were employed in the Revier.2   The Revier, which originally consisted of two blocks or buildings, was greatly expanded in 1943. In 1943, the number of beds in the Revier blocks increased to 2,000 and the personnel numbered 200.2   At that time, the duties of the SS physicians were largely transferred to prisoner-doctors.  In 1944,  approximately 20 prisoner-physicians worked in the Ravensbrück Revier to provide care for more than 75,000 prisoners.  Most medical specialities were represented among these physicians.5  The Revier then consisted of seven blocks, each of which held 300 or more patients.  It was common for 4 or even 5 patients to share two beds.  In February, 1945, there were over 3,000 patients in the Revier with up to 50 deaths per day6 and at the end of the war there were nine Revier blocks.7 

Each Revier block consisted of one large examining room, one doctor’s room, one room for the Head Nurse, an apothecary, and a kitchen.  One small room held three beds for birthing.   Workers in the Revier were priviledged.  Most lived in a separate block which was less crowded than the others.  They did not have to stand for the lengthy daily roll calls and were able to move throughout the camp.   They wore distinctive armbands.8  A former inmate, Sylvia Salvensan, describes the Revier:

I cannot find the words to describe the conditions there.  I am taking you into the room where the women were with deep wounds.  These smell terrible because the bandages were changed only twice a week.  Naturally they consisted only of paper which already slid about on the first day.  It was terrible.  All of the wounds were septic; it all ran into the bed...In the infectious disease ward things were 10 times worse.  The floor was covered with sick people.  All used one toilet.7 

A Dutch nurse-inmate, Neeltje Ejpker, further described a Revier block:

There were boards instead of beds.  There were about 200 prisoners in my room, and it was so tight that no one could sit down.  The beds were set up threefold on top of each other.  The hygienic conditions were terrible.  We often had no water, there were no toilets, only latrines: one large bucket with two long handles on each side.  All of us had diarrhoea and nobody could help us to the latrine.  One time I saw a huge pile of corpses which was then picked up by a large car.9 

This contrasts greatly with the description of the Revier provided by one of the SS nurses, Martha Pauline Haake, who was later imprisoned for her crimes:
The medical treatment was good.  The food in Ravensbück concentration camp was at least as good and the same quantity as in this Internment Camp.  The treatment of the prisoners in Ravensbrück concentration camp was good.  I cannot remember that ever anybody was punished in the Revier, this refers to all sick-blocks.  I have never beaten a prisoner or kicked him with feet, nor have I seen that ever anybody was beaten or kicked with feet in Ravensbrück concentration camp.  Medicines were plentiful and plenty were distributed to the patients.  In civilian hospitals less medical supplies were available than in Ravensbrück concentration camp for the prisoners.  Every patient had his own bed. In the end the sick-bay was overcrowded and it happened that 3 patients had to lie in two beds.  The bed had palliassos, and in winter every patient had 3-4 blankets.  All beds were covered with linen, a white sheet, chequered bolstors and coverlet.10


Dr. Clauberg; sterilized Jewish women in Auschwitz & Ravensbruk

Only prisoners who had temperatures of 39 degrees Celsius (102 F) or higher were admitted to the Revier.2  Sick prisoners lined up in the corridor every morning to be seen by the camp doctors.  They usually had to wait at least two hours in the line.11  Prisoners who were judged to eventually be able to return to work were afforded some level of care.  Prisoners beyond the ability to work were doomed.  They were provided no care and were often sent to a special block that would be periodically evacuated to a nearby mental hospital, Bernburg,  to be gassed.  The death rate at the Revier increased from a few a day to 727 in December 1944.12  The crematoria in the town of Fürstenberg were unable to keep up with the deaths and corpses pilled up behind the Revier.  In 1943, a crematorium with two ovens was built at Ravensbrück.13

Treatment for usual medical disorders and obstetrical care were virtually nonexistent.  Before 1942, pregnant women were sent away from Ravensbrück to be delivered and then returned to the camp without their infants.  These babies were placed in Nazi orphanages.  After 1942, deliveries were done in Ravensbrück and many of the babies were strangled at birth by one of the prisoner-nurses.5  Prisoner-nurse Gerda Quernheim burned them in the boiler room.2 

In 1944, the policy changed, allowing women to give birth in Ravensbrück and to keep the babies.  Between September 1944 - April 1945, 551 children were born in Ravensbrück, the majority to Polish political prisoners who arrived at Ravensbrück in various stages of pregnancy. A maternity ward was established with a prisoner nurse as midwife.  Many of the babies died after a few days.  The mothers had to shortly return to work so the newborns had to go the entire day without a feeding.   One female physician inmate, Dr. Helene Goudsmit, testified:

One, amongst others, of the consequences of the bad hygenic conditions was the systematic death of ALL new-born children, whose mothers were unable to feed them because of their own undernourishment; this of course refers to the period during which I was at the camp.  I myself saw German women (who had been interned for Rassenschande - relations of a child by a non-German) who had been pregnant and undergone an abortion by [Dr.] Orendi.  It was customary to wait on purpose until the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy before carrying out the abortion; this greatly increased the risk during the surgical intervention because of the delay of this intervention and because of the bad general physical conditions of the women due to their internment.14

In February and March 1945, all children and pregnant women were transported out of Ravensbrück.  Hundreds of children ranging in age from infants to teenagers were sent by train, many to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.  Most died of the subzero temperatures during the train ride.  Those few who survived the transport died of starvation soon thereafter.15

The care in the Revier was supervised by the SS nurses and was abysmal.  There were insufficient medicines and bandages and what was available was unfairly

distributed by the nurses.  The distribution was overseen by the Oberschwester [Head Nurse] Marschall who gave most to the prisoners working in the bordello and to other Aasocial prisoners.5

Some prisoners, aware of the conditions in the Revier, tried to avoid going even when sick.  Others were rejected for care from the Revier as not being sick enough.  For these inmates, there was a chance for some care and medicine being obtained from fellow inmates.  In fact, there was an illegal trade in medicines that were smuggled into the camp or were stolen from the SS infirmary.  An additional and valuable source was the local pharmacy in the town of Fürstenberg which was owned by a woman who was anti-Nazi.16

The extreme crowding and poor hygiene provided the perfect setup for a variety of epidemics.  Lice were everywhere and uncontrollable, leading to outbreaks of Typhus.  In 1945, 30,000 inmates were immunized against Typhus but many patients died because their bodies were so malnourished and were unable to produce antibodies.2  Attempts were made to isolate prisoners with tuberculosis in one block but many cases went undiagnosed and untreated.  Patients who were isolated were without treatment and either spontaneously recovered or died.  Psychotic prisoners were locked up and their meager food ration was cut in half.  They were considered incurable and most were later transported to one of the euthanasia centers, Bernburg, to be killed in the gas chambers.


Ravensbruck photo

The Medical Experiments

The first medical experiments were done in 1941 under the direction of Dr. Gerhard. One hundred twenty women between the ages of 18 and 30 were selected upon their arrival at Ravensbrück in a transport from Lublin, Poland and 75 were used for the experiments.  They were admitted to the Revier and had surgery to emulate injuries to the legs similar to those received by soldiers at the front lines.  The wounds of these women's legs were then intentionally infected with bacteria including gas gangrene and tetanus.2  Ground glass and wood particles were rubbed into the wounds.  Postoperatively, some women received treatment with a sulfonamide drug whereas others received no treatment at all.  The women were cared for only by SS nurses  to maintain secrecy about the experiments.  Later surgeries were carried out in the blocks without use of an operating room and without any preparation.  Sixty of these 120 women lived until 1945 and some were later witnesses against the Ravensbrück Revier personnel.  One prisoner-nurse, Violette LeCoq,  testified:

In November, two women operated on by Dr. Treite were brought to the block room.  They were not insane.  The one, a Russian student, had a head surgery.  The other, a young woman, was operated on her arm.  The arm was totally open and not sutured.  One could see the muscles and nerves.  The arm was open from the elbow to the wrist.  She died the next day.  In March 1945, I saw young and old gypsies sitting on the floor of the examining room.  They were screaming and rolling all over the floor in agony and pain.  In front of the door was the female Czech police.  In the room were head nurse Marschall, and Drs. Treite and Trommer.17

In August 1942, the bone and muscle experiments began.  In some instances, in the operating room, the bones of the lower leg were smashed into many pieces with a hammer and repaired with and without clamps as a comparison.  Casts were applied but removed within a few days, leaving the legs to heal without a cast.  In the bone transplantation surgery, entire sections of the fibula were removed, some with and some without the periosteum.  In one case, the arm and scapula of a prisoner was removed to be transplanted into a private patient who had lost his scapula, clavicle, and humerus to sarcoma.  In the muscle experiments, several surgeries were done on each prisoner.  Portions of muscle and nerve were removed each time. 2

A second type of experiment done at Ravensbrück was done in January 1945 by Dr. Schumann.  He selected girls between the ages of 8 and 18 and injected contrast medium into the uterus and Fallopian tubes.  The stated purpose of that experiment was to assess the development of female reproductive organs.  Mostly gypsy girls were used and the study involved 120-140 girls.  Many died of infections.5   Girls as young as 8 years old were used as subjects.18

The Role of Nurses

In 1943, in an attempt to alleviate some of the burden of the Revier blocks, each barrack was assigned a nurse.  She was to administer first aid and take care of bandage changes and minor health problems.  It was the block nurse who then was

authorized to send an inmate to the Revier for treatment or admission.  A major duty of the block nurse was the delousing.19  However, not all nurses provided care to the sick and injured:

I was able to ascertain that the German nurses had never actually had any professional activity; they looked on the misery of the sick with the greatest indifference and even sarcasm and never did they make any effort whatever to help them even though it was possible for them to do so.  It was a perfectly moral thing for the Schwester [nurse] to beat the sick, indeed I have seen Schwester Lisa beating sick women without any reason at all.20

Schwestern Marschall, Salvequart, and Quernheim

The actions of three nurses, one SS-employed nurse and two prisoner-nurses are described.  These nurses were selected because there is extensive information about them as a result of their post-war trials.

Before describing their actions, it is important to point out that there were many women, including nurses, who no doubt acted in kind and moral ways.  However, because they were not a part of post-war trials, their identities and stories remain largely unknown.

Elisabeth Marschall

 Elisabeth Marschall was the Head Nurse [Oberschwester] at Ravensbrück.  Elisabeth Marschall had been a nurse since 1909.  In 1931, she joined the Nazi party because she believed, as she stated, that Aonly Hitler could save Germany from its misery@.21  Prior to working in Ravensbrück, she was employed as the Oberschwester at the Hermann Göring Werke in Braunschweig.  There she was accused of providing two French prisoners with food.  She was interrogated by the Gestapo and was accused of Ataking food away from the German people@.   As a result she was sent to Ravensbrück against her will.21

It was Elisabeth Marshall who, the night before an execution, would go to the Reviers card file to choose the names of the condemned, she who kept the secret records of the murders, she who set up medical supervision of Dr. Gebhardt's experiments@.22  According to one witness, AThe Head Nurse Marschall is co-responsible for the death of thousands of women in the camp.  The same witness stated that she felt Agreat compassion that a woman who could have represented the Red Cross in Germany sank to such depths.7  

Oberschwester  Marschall, along with Dr. Treite, sat on top of an examining table and selected more than 800 women to be shipped to Auschwitz where most perished.23    Marschall also provided some post-operative care to the patients having the medical experiments.   At her trial, she testified that she prepared the beds for the patients and gave them injections of morphine twice a day for the first day or two, then once daily, and then gave oral pain medication.21   One prisoner-nurse testified that Marschall had 50 prisoners with newborn infants loaded into a cattle car without water, food, or milk.  All perished.

The first children who were born in camp remained in Revier I, packed in laundry baskets.  Later on they were all brought into a small room.  When they increased in numbers, they went into the office of Block 11 and later on they went with their mothers to Barracks 32.  Back then, there were about 100 babies.  Very few babies survived the first 4 weeks.  The conditions under which they had to live were such that they had to die.  The mothers did not receive any additional food and were unable to nurse their children.  They were chased to work away from their children.  Marschall forbade us to organize diapers and linens and designated two anti-socials [prisoners] in block 11 as caregivers for the infants, although we had plenty of experienced people in camp.  All my pleading for more food for the children was ignored by Marschall and Treite.  In 1944, we had to accept the fact that there was no milk.  But in 1945, many Red Cross packages arrived and then there was so much milk, sugar, and oatmeal that we could have fed twice as many infants than we had.  I have seen these items for myself in the room of the Head Nurse, and later on in a special room which was created for the packages.  Even during that time Marschall did not release sufficient nutrition for the newborns.24

Another prisoner-nurse, Hildegard Boy-Brandt,  described a fellow prisoner still holding her dead baby.  AShe showed her empty breasts as if she wanted to emphasize that she was innocent of her infant's death.  From where was she to take the strength

for a second life when there was not even enough for her?6  Of the 380 babies born in January 1945, most died during the first 14 days and all but one was dead by 3 months.25

Toward the end of March 1945, Oberschwester Marschall decided that all pregnant women and women with newborns had to work.  She sent a group of five guards with whips to the block to enforce her edict.  Everyday she demanded a precise count of the number who went to work.

Needless to say, Elisabeth Marschall provided a more humanitarian portrait of herself at her trial.  She stated that she had never given a lethal injection, that she never selected anyone for extermination, and that she tried to obtain extra food for the mothers and infants.  She also stated And, by the way, I was not a member of the German master race@.  When asked to respond to witnesses portrayal of her as cruel and indifferent, she replied, AI was not very nice, but when you think of the people who came into the camp and who did not always behave properly, then it is very possible that I wasn’t very nice.  But I can say that I always listened to them and tried to be as fair as possible.28

Vera Salvequart

Vera Salvequart, unlike Marschall, was a prisoner-nurse.  Vera Salvequart was born in Czechoslovakia and was educated as a nurse.  She was first arrested in 1941 for having a relationship with a Jewish man and for refusing to divulge his whereabouts to the Gestapo.  She served 10 months in a prison in Flossenburg.  In 1942, she was again arrested for having a relationship with a Jew which was prohibited in Nazi Germany.  For this, she served two years in prison and was released in April 1944.  It was only three months later that she was again arrested and sent to Ravensbrück.   She came to Ravensbrück on December 6, 1944 after being arrested for helping five detained officers escape.28  

Salvequart testified that she was ordered to not talk about anything she saw when she arrived at Ravensbrück and that she would be shot if she did.  Initially she was assigned to  work in the Revier of the youth camp, Uckermark, of Ravensbrück which served as the Revier for the sickest prisoners.  From here patients were collected for the transports to the gas chambers .   The condemned women were taken to Salvequart's block where they were undressed and often had to stand naked from 3 PM until 11 PM, when they were put in a truck and driven to the gas chambers.  Salvequart's job was to fill out the death certificates of the women and to extract the gold teeth from the dead bodies in the early morning.29

In February 1945, she was reported to have given out a Asleeping powder@ to 50 extremely ill patients.  By the next day, 5 had died, and 7 more the following day.30  AThe patients received a powder from Salvequart, which she pretended was a sleeping aid, and it killed them instead.  If the patients refused to take the powder, lethal injections or dissolved poison was given@.2  One witness testified that she was present when Salvequart gave her friend a white powder and the friend died in her presence .9 Salvequart  was also changed with having administered Ainjections in a very sadistic manner to sick prisoners, after which the victims died a horrific death.@21  When questioned about her poisoning patients, Salvequart testified,

I remember that the sick had no trust in the beginning because they thought that I took part in the mass murdering.  I must say that in their place, I would have

had the same impression.  I was locked up without interruption, couldn=t go anywhere alone, and all they knew about me was that I lived there where they murdered so many people.    Additionally, the prisoners saw when I entered the wash room in the case of Schikovsky; they heard the woman scream and therefore assumed that I was part of the murder@.29 

She denied giving poision either as a powder or as an injection to any prisoner.29

Inmate Lotte Sontag testified the following:

I was told by Vera Salvequart herself that the women were partly killed by poisoning with a white powder by her and partly murdered by injections which were administered by the SS men Koeller and Rapp.31

Salvequart described how she saved some women and infants from death by substituting their identification number with that of someone already dead, thus making them non-existent in the camp.  She even kept one infant hidden and had male prisoners bring food and milk for him.  When discovered, the infant was taken away by an SS guard who threw him into a cart filled with leftovers.29

Additional good acts were also attributed to Salvequart.  A male prisoner of Ravensbrück testified that she asked him to help her steal medicines, food, and wood for the patients.  They stole the medications from the SS apothecary.   In fact, this same witness testified that Salvequart told him that her patients in the youth camp Revier were in very bad condition and she asked him to help get as many necessary items as possible.32 

Salvequart did not get along with the two SS men who supervised her and at one time she was to be gassed herself.  Several of the male prisoners came to her aid by

disguising her as a male prisoner and hiding her in their section of the camp.  She continued in hiding until the camp was liberated in April 1945.  She left Ravensbrück still disguised as a male on a transport of 1,000 male prisoners to an American transit camp for refugees.  There she gave an American officer the list she had been keeping of prisoners who had been gassed.  In the transit camp, she assisted with of the medical care of the refugees.  Interestingly, this witness stated that he and Salvequart were to be engaged at the end of the war.  When asked if he would have helped her had he known she had killed people, he stated that he would not have.32  

Gerda Quernheim

Gerda Quernheim also was a prisoner-nurse and midwife.  She was born in 1907 and was a German national.  She was first arrested in 1938 for making statements against the government and was imprisoned for one year.  Following this she was taken to Ravensbrück where she remained until April 1944.  In April she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where she was imprisoned until being transferred back to Ravensbrück in January 1945.33

Although strictly forbidden, she became romantically involved with one of the SS physicians, Dr. Rudolf Rosenthal, and became pregnant.18  When she had an abortion, her affair with Dr. Rosenthal was discovered and both were sent to the bunker (punishment block).   Ludwig Ramdohr testified:

On searching the sick-bay, I myself discovered a human embryo in alcohol, which, according to Quernheim’s statement was her own.  In a later interrogation Quernheim admitted, however, that she got rid of the embryos when they had been removed from other prisoners.34

Quernheim’s actions as a nurse in Ravensbrück included both good and evil.  She is reported to have stolen medicine to help some prisoners and participated in the killing of others.  One postwar witness described Quernheim helping Dr. Rosenthal with abortions on prisoners, often very late in the pregnancy, and disposing the newborns in the boiler room.6 Another former prisoner stated Aif children were born they were

drowned immediately under the tender care of Gerda, a prisoner->nurse= who also had the duty of administering fatal injections to the gravely ill@.35

Margarete Gahr, a prisoner, testified:

I remember myself especially Gerda Quernheim, because she worked in the Revier as No. 1 Prisoner’s nurse under Dr. Rosenthal.  Her cold-bloodness did let Gerda Quernheim become a multifold murderess.  This my opinion I base of the following.

From my working room, that means from the Revier kitchen, I could see direct to the so-called AStuebchen@, which was the room for the dying.  I was very often a witness hereupon, that sick persons were brought into the AStuebchen@ and that a short time later Gerda Quernheim with an injection syringe in her hand went into the room for the dying.  A few minutes after Gerda Quernheim had left the room, the women were carried dead out of the room.  These events I myself observed very often.  I am of the opinion that quite a number of those sick persons could have been saved.36

Once, Dr. Rosenthal mixed up the files of two men with the same names, one of whom had died.  When the error was found, he sent Quernheim to the Revier to give a lethal injection to the one still living, thus making the paperwork correct.6

In another instance, Quernheim helped Rosenthal administer an anesthetic to a healthy young girl to have one of legs amputated.  The leg was taken away to Hohenlychen, an SS research institution.  Shortly thereafter, the young woman was killed by a lethal injection.37

Quernheim’s description of her work differs considerably from these descriptions.  She stated that her job consisted of providing treatments during clinic visits including bandaging, ear treatments, delousing, and venereal disease treatments.  She stated that she did assist Dr. Rosenthal with surgery but Athese were medically necessary operations, and no one died from them.33 She made the following statement about her assistance with abortions:

It was also my task at night to remove premature births of those women for whom the doctors had prepared this, through operations.  At several of these operations (called medical preparation AMedizinische Einleitung@ [medical induction]) I was present and assisted by e.g. handling instruments, washing of the patients, etc.  After the operation I had to give medicines to the women to accelerate the expulsion of the embryo.33

The Consequences of the Nurse’s Actions

Elisabeth Marschall  was tried after the war before the British military tribunal in Hamburg, Germany.  She was found guilty on February 3, 1947 of Akilling and ill treatment of allied nationals and was sentenced to death by hanging.38    She was executed by the British military tribunal.39

Vera Salvequart was also a defendant at the same trial.  She was found guilty on March 2, 1947 for her war crimes and was hanged on May 3, 1947.   

After the war, Gerda Quernheim was charged with committing two war crimes: Killing by injections foreign nations and killing at least one newborn baby.40

Although Quernheim was initially sentenced to death, her sentence was changed to imprisonment on July 19, 1948.41 The prosecution stated that there were the following mitigating circumstances:

  1. Many of the ex-internees spoke well of her conduct in general.
  2. She herself was a prisoner.
  3. The role she had in giving lethal injections or preparation of prisoners for compulsory operations may well have been under a very heavy duress and possibly also under the influence of Dr. Rosenthal whose mistress she was at the material times.42  
  4. Quernheim was released from prison in 1955, at age 47, after serving 7 years.

Factors Influencing or Contributing to the Nurses’ Actions

The hell of Ravensbrück is unimaginable despite many first-person accounts.   Despair and disease affected all.  Prisoners were never assured of another day of life; in fact, many did not want another day of life.  Prisoners were subjected to every type of inhumanity that could be perpetrated - all in the name of National Socialism.  It is profoundly sad that nurses were among the perpetrators and we can never fully understand why.  Likewise, we cannot say for certain how we, as individuals, would have acted in that environment and under those conditions.

It is logical to assume that nurses employed by the SS such as Elisabeth Marshall held beliefs congruent with those of National Socialism, hence ideological commitment may have been a strong force motivating their actions.   Elisabeth Marshall, from her own statement, supported Hitler and believed that he could Asave Germany from its misery.21   The SS nurses would, because of their National Socialistic beliefs, hold in low regard prisoners who were Communist, Jewish, Polish, or Gypsy.  These prisoners were of value to the SS only as long as they could work as slave laborers or subjects for medical experiments and, of course, illness limited their productivity.  Care, if any, was directed at getting prisoners back to their jobs or toward the success of the so-called medical experiments.  It is likely that the SS nurses caring for the subjects of the experiments saw merit and value in the experiments and believed that the results would be useful to the German military.

Ideological commitment is more difficult to support in the prisoner-nurses.   Both of the prisoner-nurses, Vera Salvequart and Gerda Quernheim, were political prisoners.  That is, they were imprisoned for having ideals and actions against the National Socialists.  Many of the victims of these nurses were of similar national origin and were also political

prisoners.  Ideological commitment would seem to be absent or, at least, inconsistent in these nurses who had been imprisoned for defying the government of National Socialism.

Certainly, many of the actions of some of the nurses were carried out under duress.  Punishment for disobedience was frequent and often deadly.  Under these conditions, it would have been extraordinary for one to actively resist.  For some, such as Gerda Quernheim, the issue becomes more complex.  As described, Quernheim has had both good and evil attributed to her.  Certainly her romantic involvement with an SS doctor influenced her actions and was cited by the Prosecution as a mitigating factor in commuting her sentence from death to imprisonment.  Yet, her cruelty was undeniably exemplified by the burning of newborn infants.6

Vera Salvequart was a Czech citizen who twice had been arrested for her illegal relationships with Jews.  She was sent to Ravensbrück for helping detained soldiers escape.  In these actions, she did demonstrate a defiant and even a brave streak.  Upon her imprisonment in Ravensbrück she was told that she would be shot if she talked about any of the events she saw while a nurse.33  She certainly saw many other women killed for lesser offenses hence, she no doubt feared for her life.  Nonetheless, many of her actions seem inexplicably cruel. Salvequart, like Quernheim, had both good and bad actions attributed to her, confounding an understanding of her behavior. 

Ninety-two thousand women and children from 18 nations died in Ravensbrück concentration camp, some because of the neglect or direct violence of SS and prisoner- nurses.43   Research into the actions of nurses in the concentration camps will continue in  the hopes that examples of compassion will be found.  Certainly there were many but because they were not defendants in post-war trials, their stories are more difficult to discover.


The Devil Dentist

'Everyone who knew something about the status of Hitler's teeth was of supreme interest to the Allies after the war because of the few remains of his skull and jawbone found in the ruins of the bunker in Berlin where he committed suicide in 1945,' she said.

'Blaschke, who had the rank of a Major General in the Waffen SS, was shown some records from the Americans who had him in a PoW camp in a bid to confirm that Hitler was dead.' 

While the Russians, who discovered Hitler's charred corpse along with that of his new bride Eva Braun, could not get their hands on Blaschke, they did find his assistant Kaethe Heusermann.

Nazi dentist: Johannes Blaschke tended to all the top men in Hitler's regime

'Afterwards,' said Deprem-Hennen, 'she vanished for ten years in the Soviet gulag.' 

Most of Hitler's medical records allegedly burned before Berlin fell in May 1945 when one of the last aircraft to leave the besieged city was shot down.

'But,' said the author, 'many documents remained at Blaschke's practice. Fedor Bruck, a Jewish dentist, who survived the war hidden in Berlin, took over this practice at the end of the war and found them before the Russians woke up to the fact.' 

Bruck emigrated to America in 1947 taking the details of the Fuehrer's fillings with him.  They later passed into the possession of his son Wolfgang who went on to work as a lawyer in the state chancellery in Duesseldorf.

Deprem-Hennen said she befriended him as she was working on her dental doctorate after he said: 'I think I have some interesting documents for you.' 

She said: 'I used them as the basis for my graduation project although the professor of medical history at the university was reluctant to recognise their worth at first, probably thinking back to the falsified Hitler Diaries scandal.  But in the end he verified them as genuine.' 

She worked on the records for six years.  'It was clear that Blaschke was extremely proud of his role as dentist to Hitler, but his patient was not so enthusiastic.

'He said he "dreaded" getting into the dentist's chair. The incident about the root canal that he had to do over eight meetings highlights this phobia he had.

'Also, he suffered more pain following the assassination attempt in July 1944 when he was hit with splinters in the face.' 

Blaschke noted he had a bridge on the right side of his mouth which he complained had 'moved and someone had better put it back pretty damned quick.' 

Blaschke also said he suffered terribly from bad breath, abscesses and gum disease and he put 10 fillings into his mouth in 1944 alone.  


The head of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering, was also treated by the 'Devil's Dentist'

He noted that much of what caused him pain in later life was probably due to his poor diet as a down-and-out on the streets of pre-WW1 Vienna where Hitler lived like a tramp.

Hermann Goering, the bombastic Nazi Luftwaffe chief who invented the dreaded Gestapo in 1934, was such a coward that Blaschke noted; 'He cried before he even got in the chair.  

'Prosthetics had to be made for him, and ready, on the same day because he "could not run around as the head of the Luftwaffe with missing teeth".'

Hitler was known in his inner circle as being squeamish when it came to his teeth.  

His interpreter, Paul Schmidt, said that Hitler was once so frustrated after talks with Spain's General Franco failed to bring him into the war that he told his Italian ally Benito Mussolini: 'I would rather have two or three teeth out than go through that again!' 

Deprem-Hennen notes in her book that while Blaschke, who died in 1957, was a die-hard Nazi who knew 'where all the gold from extermination camp victims had come from to be used in fillings for SS men,' he was not incapable of showing kindness.

'He used to carry the paralysed Jewish landlord of the mansion where he lived into the bomb shelter when the Allied planes were overhead,' she said.

Read more:

Aribert Ferdinand Heim ~AKA Tarek Hussein Farid

CAIRO — Even in old age the imposingly tall, athletic German known to locals as Tarek Hussein Farid maintained the discipline to walk some 15 miles each day through the busy streets of Egypt’s capital. He walked to the world-renowned Al Azhar mosque here, where he converted to Islam, and to the ornate J. Groppi Cafe downtown, where he ordered the chocolate cakes he sent to friends and bought the bonbons he gave to their children, who called him Uncle Tarek.


Aribert Ferdinand Heim in a photo released in 1950.

Friends and acquaintances here in Egypt also remember him as an avid amateur photographer who almost always wore a camera around his neck, but never allowed himself to be photographed. And with good reason: Uncle Tarek was born Aribert Ferdinand Heim, a member of Hitler’s elite Waffen-SS and a medical doctor at the Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Mauthausen concentration camps.

It was behind the gray stone walls of Mauthausen, in his native Austria, that Dr. Heim committed the atrocities against hundreds of Jews and others that earned him the nickname Dr. Death and his status as the most wanted Nazi war criminal still believed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center to be at large.

Dr. Heim was accused of performing operations on prisoners without anesthesia; removing organs from healthy inmates, then leaving them to die on the operating table; injecting poison, including gasoline, into the hearts of others; and taking the skull of at least one victim as a souvenir. After living below the radar of Nazi hunters for more than a decade after World War II — much of it in the German spa town of Baden-Baden where he had a wife, two sons and a medical practice as a gynecologist — he escaped capture just as investigators closed in on him in 1962.

His hiding place, as well as his death in 1992, have remained unknown until now.

Investigators in Israel and Germany have repeatedly said that they believed Dr. Heim was alive and hiding in Latin America, near where a woman alleged to be his illegitimate daughter lived in Chile. Witnesses from Finland to Vietnam and from Saudi Arabia to Argentina have sent tips and reported sightings to investigators.

A dusty briefcase with rusted buckles, sitting nearly forgotten in storage here in Cairo, hid the truth behind Dr. Heim’s flight to the Middle East. Obtained by The New York Times and the German television station ZDF from members of the Doma family, proprietors of the hotel here where Dr. Heim resided, the files in the briefcase tell the story of his life, and death, in Egypt.

The briefcase contains an archive of yellowed pages, some in envelopes that were still sealed, of Dr. Heim’s letters and medical test results, his financial records and an underlined, annotated article from a German magazine about his own manhunt and trial in absentia, even drawings of soldiers and trains by the children he left behind in Germany. Some documents are in the name Heim, others Farid, but many of the latter, like an application for Egyptian residency under the name Tarek Hussein Farid, have the same birthday, June 28, 1914, and the same place of birth, Radkersburg, Austria, as Dr. Heim.

Although none of the 10 friends and acquaintances in Cairo who identified a photograph of Dr. Heim knew his real identity, they described signs that he might have been on the run. “My idea, which I’ve taken from my father at that time, is that he was in dispute with maybe the Jews, but he took refuge in Cairo at that time,” said Tarek Abdelmoneim el Rifai, the son of Abdelmoneim el Rifai, 88, Dr. Heim’s dentist in Cairo and close friend.

A certified copy of a death certificate obtained from Egyptian authorities confirmed witness accounts that the man called Tarek Hussein Farid died in 1992. “Tarek Hussein Farid is the name my father took when he converted to Islam,” said his son Rüdiger Heim. In an interview in the family’s villa in Baden-Baden, Mr. Heim, 53, admitted publicly for the first time that he was with his father in Egypt at the time of his death from rectal cancer.

“It was during the Olympics. There was a television in the room, and he was watching the Olympics. It distracted him. He must have been suffering from serious pain,” said Mr. Heim, who is tall, like his father, with a long mournful face and speaks softly and carefully. Dr. Aribert Heim died the day after the Games ended, on Aug. 10, 1992, according to his son and the death certificate.

Mr. Heim said he learned of his father’s whereabouts through his aunt, who has since died. He said he did not come forward because he did not wish to bring trouble to any of his father’s friends in Egypt. As the number of surviving Nazi war criminals has dwindled, his father’s case has grown in prominence.

Shelter in the Middle East

Despite the newly uncovered evidence of Dr. Heim’s time in Egypt, it is impossible to definitively close his case, with the location of his burial site still a mystery.

His death would be a significant but hitherto unknown milestone in the winding up of the passionate and at times controversial hunt for Nazi war criminals that led to the trial and execution of the Holocaust planner Adolf Eichmann but never managed to catch up with Josef Mengele, the most famous of the Nazi doctors, who died in Brazil in 1979, as forensic tests later proved.

While the secret lives of Nazis in countries like Argentina and Paraguay captured the popular imagination in books and films like “The Odessa File” and “The Boys From Brazil,” the Heim case casts light on the often overlooked history of their flight to the Middle East.

Until political winds shifted, ex-Nazis were welcomed in Egypt in the years after World War II, helping in particular with military technology. Rüdiger Heim said that his father told him he knew other Nazis there, but tried to steer clear of them.

Even so, how Dr. Heim was able to elude his pursuers for so long, while receiving money from Europe, most notably from his late sister, Herta Barth, and corresponding with friends and family in long letters, is unclear.

“The Arab world was an even better, a safer haven than South America,” said Efraim Zuroff, the Israel director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who had been searching for Dr. Heim and traveled to Chile last July to raise awareness about the case. Mr. Zuroff expressed surprise when informed of Dr. Heim’s apparent fate, saying the center had been about to raise the reward for information leading to his arrest to $1.3 million from $400,000.

A Trail Gone Cold

The only time Dr. Heim was ever jailed was after World War II when he was held by the American military in Germany. But the military released him, apparently unaware that investigators in Austria were building a case against him. A United States war crimes team took testimony about his crimes from Josef Kohl, a former inmate at Mauthausen, on Jan. 18, 1946, less than a year after the German surrender.

“Dr. Heim had a habit of looking into inmates’ mouths to determine whether their teeth were in impeccable condition,” Mr. Kohl said, according to a transcript of the interview. “If this were the case, he would kill the prisoner with an injection, cut his head off, leave it to cook in the crematorium for hours, until all the flesh was stripped from the naked skull, and prepare the skull for himself and his friends as a decoration for their desks.”

Mr. Zuroff said that because Dr. Heim was at Mauthausen for a short time early in the war, in the fall of 1941, he was “aware of no people alive today who suffered at his hands and can give first-hand testimony of his crimes.”

German investigators said that Dr. Heim was careful throughout the postwar period when less-controlled people might have let down their guard.

Investigators noted that Dr. Heim, a talented ice hockey player, stayed out of pictures when his hockey team posed for its group portrait, even after they won the German championship. Dr. Heim owned an apartment building in Berlin, which investigators said for years provided him with income for his life incognito.

At the headquarters of the Baden-Württemberg state police in Stuttgart today, small magnets freckle a map of the world, marking the spots where clues or reports of sightings surfaced. Investigators said that they had searched continuously since his disappearance in 1962, checking more than 240 leads and ruling out several people thought to be Dr. Heim. While they never caught him, they appear to have come tantalizingly close to his hiding place in the Middle East.

“There was information that Heim was in Egypt working as a police doctor between 1967 and the beginning of the ’70s,” said Joachim Schäck, head of the fugitive unit at the state police. “This lead proved to be false.”

According to his son, Dr. Heim had left Germany and driven through France and Spain before crossing into Morocco, and eventually settling in Egypt. “It was only sheer coincidence that the police could not arrest me because I was not at home at the time,” Dr. Heim wrote in a letter to the German magazine Spiegel, after it published a report about his war-crimes case in 1979. It is unclear whether he ever sent the letter, which was found in his files, many of which were written in meticulous cursive style in German or English.

In the letter he also accused Simon Wiesenthal, who was interned at Mauthausen, of being “the one who invented these atrocities.” Dr. Heim went on to discuss what he called Israeli massacres of Palestinians, and added that “the Jewish Khazar, Zionist lobby of the U.S. were the first ones who in 1933 declared war against Hitler’s Germany.”

The Turkic ethnic group the Khazars were a recurring theme for Dr. Heim, who kept himself busy in Cairo, researching a paper he wrote in English and German, decrying the possibility of anti-Semitism owing to the fact, he said, that most Jews were not Semitic in ethnic origin. Mr. Rifai recalled that Dr. Heim had shown his family many different drafts of the paper, which were among the papers found in the briefcase that The Times and ZDF television obtained. A list also showed plans to send drafts of the paper to prominent people around the world — under the name Dr. Youssef Ibrahim — including the United Nationssecretary general, Kurt Waldheim, the United States national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Yugoslavia’s leader, Marshal Tito.

Life as Uncle Tarek

He formed close bonds with his neighbors, including the Doma family, which ran the Kasr el Madina hotel, where Dr. Heim lived the last decade before his death. Mahmoud Doma, whose father owned the establishment, said Dr. Heim spoke Arabic, English and French, in addition to German. Mr. Doma said his neighbor read and studied the Koran, including a copy in German that the Domas had ordered for him.

Mr. Doma, 38, became emotional when talking about the man he knew as Uncle Tarek, whom he said gave him books and encouraged him to study. “He was like a father. He loved me and I loved him.”

He recalled how Uncle Tarek bought rackets and set up a tennis net on the hotel roof, where he and his siblings played with the German Muslim until sundown. But by 1990, Dr. Heim’s good health began to fail him and his illness was diagnosed as cancer.

After his death, his son Rüdiger insisted that they follow his father’s wishes and donate the body to science, not an easy task in a Muslim country where the rules dictate a swift burial and dissection is opposed. Mr. Doma, who wanted to put Uncle Tarek in the family crypt next to his father, opposed the plan.

The two men rode in a white van with the body of Dr. Heim, which had been washed and wrapped in a white sheet in accordance with Muslim tradition and placed in a wooden coffin. Mr. Doma said they bribed a hospital functionary to take the body, but Egyptian authorities found out, and Dr. Heim was instead interred in a common grave, anonymously.



SENTENCES [from Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10. Nuremberg, October 1946–:April 1949. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O, 1949–1953.]


American judges (top row, seated) during the Doctors Trial. Presiding Judge Walter B. Beals is seated second from the left. The trial was held in Nuremberg, Germany, from December 9, 1946, to August 20, 1947. USHMM PRESIDING JUDGE BEALS: Military Tribunal I has convened this morning for the purpose of imposing sentences upon the defendants who have been on trial before this Tribunal and who have been adjudged guilty by the Tribunal.

"KARL BRANDT, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and membership in an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, as charged under the indictment heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted Military Tribunal I sentences you, Karl Brandt, to death by hanging.

"SIEGFRIED HANDLOSER, Military Tribunal I has found and judged you guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as charged under the indictment heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted, Military Tribunal I sentences you, Siegfried Handloser, to imprisonment for the full term and period of your natural life, to be served at such prison or prisons, or other appropriate place of confinement, as shall be determined by competent authority.

"OSKAR SCHROEDER, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as charged under the indictment heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted Mil itary Tribunal I sentences you, Oskar Schroeder, to imprisonment for the full term and period of your natural life, to be served at such prison or prisons, or other appropriate place of confinement, as shall be determined by competent authority.

"KARL GENZKEN, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and membership in an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, as charged under the indictment heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted, Military Tribunal I sentences you, Karl Genzken, to imprisonment for the full term and period of your natural life, to be served at such prison or prisons, or other appropriate place of confinement, as shall be determined by competent authority.

"KARL GEBHARDT, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and membership in an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, as charged under the indictmen t heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted, Military Tribunal I sentences you, Karl Gebhardt, to death by hanging.

"RUDOLF BRANDT, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and membership in an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, as charged under the indictmen t heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted, Military Tribunal I sentences you, Rudolf Brandt, to death by hanging.

"JOACHIM MRUGOWSKY, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and membership in an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, as charged under the indi ctment heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted Military Tribunal I sentences you, Joachim Mrugowsky, to death by hanging.

"HELMUT POPPENDICK, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of membership in an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, as charged under the indictment heretofore filed against you. For y our said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted, Military Tribunal I sentences you, Helmut Poppendick, to imprisonment for a term of ten years, to be served at such prison or prisons, or other appropriate place of confinement, as shall be d etermined by competent authority.

"WOLFRAM SIEVERS, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and membership in an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, as charged under the indictm ent heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted, Military Tribunal I sentences you, Wolfram Sievers, to death by hanging.

"GERHARD ROSE, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as charged under the indictment heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted Milita ry Tribunal I sentences you, Gerhard Rose, to imprisonment for the full term and period of your natural life, to be served at such prison or prisons, or other appropriate place of confinement, as shall be determined by competent authority.

"VIKTOR BRACK, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and membership in an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, as charged under the indictment heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted, Military Tribunal I sentences you, Viktor Brack, to death by hanging.

"HERMANN BECKER-FREYSENG, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as charged under the indictment heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convi cted, Military Tribunal I sentences you, Hermann Becker-Freyseng, to imprisonment for a term of twenty years, to be served at such prison or prisons, or other appropriate place of confinement, as shall be determined by competent authority.

"WALDEMAR HOVEN, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and membership in an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, as charged under the indictme nt heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted, Military Tribunal I sentences you, Waldemar Hoven, to death by hanging.

"WILHELM BEIGLBOECK, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as charged under the indictment heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted Military Tribunal I sentences you, Wilhelm Beiglboeck, to imprisonment for a term of fifteen years, to be served at such prison or prisons, or other appropriate place of confinement, as shall be determined by competent authority.

"HERTA OBERHEUSER, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as charged under the indictment heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted Mi litary Tribunal I sentences you, Herta Oberheuser, to imprisonment for a term of twenty years, to be served at such prison or prisons, or other appropriate place of confinement, as shall be determined by competent authority.

"FRITZ FISCHER, Military Tribunal I has found and adjudged you guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and membership in an organization declared criminal by the judgment of the International Military Tribunal, as charged under the indictmen t heretofore filed against you. For your said crimes on which you have been and now stand convicted Military Tribunal I sentences you, Fritz Fischer, to imprisonment for the full term and period of your natural life, to be served at such prison or prisons , or other appropriate place of confinement, as shall be determined by competent authority."

[USHMM NOTE: The defendants Paul Rostock, Kurt Blome, Siegfried Ruff, Hans Wolfgang Romberg, Georg August Weltz, Konrad Schaefer, and Adolf Pokorny were judged not guilty of the charges listed in the indictment. The defendants sentenced to death were hanged at Landsberg prison in Bavaria on June 2, 1948. The sentences of the remaining defendants were reduced during the appeal process: Handloser and Genzken’s sentences were commuted to 20 years; Schroeder, Rose and, Fischer’s to 15 years; B ecker-Freyseng, Beiglboeck, and Oberheuser’s to 10 years; and Poppendick’s to time served.]


FROM THE INDICTMENT [from Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10. Nuremberg, October 1946–April 1949. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O, 1949–1953.]:   The persons accused as guilty of these crimes and accordingly named as defendants in this case are —


KARL BRANDT — Personal physician to AdoIf Hitler; Gruppenfuehrer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Major General) in the Waffen SS; Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation (Reichskommissar fuer Sanitaets- und Gesundheitswesen); and member of the Reich Research Council (Reichsforschungsrat). SIEGFRIED HANDLOSER — Generaloberstabsarzt (Lieutenant General, Medical Service); Medical Inspector of the Army (Heeres-sanitaetsinspekteur); and Chief of the Medical Services of the Armed Forces (Chef des Wehrmachtsanitaetswesens). 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. OSKAR SCHROEDER — Generaloberstabsarzt (Lieutenant General Medical Service); Chief of Staff of the Inspectorate of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe (Chef des Stabes, Inspekteur des Luftwaffe-Sanitaetswesens); and Chief of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe (Chef des Sanitaetswesens der Luftwaffe). KARL GENZKEN — Gruppenfuehrer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Major General) in the Waffen SS; and Chief of the Medical Department of the Waffen SS (Chef des Sanitaetsamts der Waffen SS). KARL GEBHARDT — Gruppenfuehrer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Major General) in the Waffen 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. KURT BLOME — Deputy [of the] Reich Health Leader (Reichsgesundheitsfuehrer); and Plenipotentiary for Cancer Research in the Reich Research Council. RUDOLF BRANDT — Standartenfuehrer (Colonel); in the Allgemeine SS; Personal Administrative Officer to Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler (Persoenlicher Referent von Himmler); and Ministerial Counsellor and Chief of the Ministerial Office in the Reich Ministry of the Interior. JOACHIM MRUGOWSKY — Oberfuehrer (Senior Colonel) in the Waffen SS; Chief Hygienist of the Reich Physician SS and Police (0berster Hygieniker, Reichsarzt SS und Polizei); and Chief of the Hygenic Institute of the Waffen SS (Chef des Hygienischen Institutes der Waffen SS). HELMUT POPPENDICK — Oberfuehrer (Senior Colonel) in the SS; and Chief of the Personal Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police (Chef des Persoenlichen Stabes des Reichsarztes SS und Polizei). WOLFRAM SIEVERS — Standartenfuehrer (Colonel) in the SS; Reich Manager of the "Ahnenerbe" Society and Director of its Institute for Military Scientific Research (Institut fuer Wehrwissenschaftliche Zweckforschung); and Deputy Chairman of the Managing Board of Directors of the Reich Research Council. 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. SIEGFRIED RUFF — Director of the Department for Aviation Medicine at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation (Deutsche Versuchsanstalt fuer Luftfahrt). HANS WOLFGANG ROMBERG — Doctor on the Staff of the Department for Aviation Medicine at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation. VIKTOR BRACK — Oberfuehrer (Senior Colonel) in the SS and Sturmbannfuehrer (Major) in the Waffen SS; and Chief Administrative Officer in the Chancellery of the Fuehrer of the NSDAP (Oberdienstleiter, Kanzlei des Fuehrers der NSDAP). 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. 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 (Institut fuer Luftfahrtmedizin). KONRAD SCHAEFER — Doctor on the Staff of the Institute for Aviation Medicine in Berlin. WALDEMAR HOVEN — Hauptsturmfuehrer (Captain) in the Waffen SS; and Chief Doctor of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. WILHELM BEIGLBOECK — Consulting Physician to the Luftwaffe. ADOLF POKORNY — Physician, Specialist in Skin and Venereal Diseases. HERTA OBERHEUSER — Physician at the Ravensbrueck Concentration Camp; and Assistant Physician to the defendant Gebhardt at the Hospital at Hohenlychen. FRITZ FISCHER — Sturmbannfuehrer (Major) in the Waffen SS; and Assistant Physician to the defendant Gebhardt at the Hospital at Hohenlychen.

Secret diaries of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele

by Steve Myall, Daily Mirror 30/07/2011 German Nazi doctor and war criminal Josef Mengele (Pic: Getty Images)

HE was dubbed the Angel of Death – the Nazi doctor who tortured and killed thousands of children in grisly experiments at Auschwitz.

Evil Josef Mengele spent the rest of his life on the run after the Second World War but, while holed up in South America, he kept a chilling secret diary.

Some 3,300 pages of his handwritten notes, poems and drawings were sold to an anonymous Jewish buyer for £185,000 at auction on Thursday.

And the hardbacked journals offer a glimpse into one of the most terrifyingly twisted minds of the 20th century.

His brutal work for Adolf Hitler resulted in the death of millions of Jews, including 1.5 million children, in the quest for an Aryan “super race”.

And his diaries show how his views had changed little on the run.

He writes: “Mixing Italians, Austrians and Slavs into one race proves ignorance.”

Mengele – who fled to Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil – commented on how South Americans used lipstick and make-up and indulged in sexual promiscuity.

He said it has led to a “dreadful mixing of the races with the northern Europeans – when you start mixing the races, there is a decline in civilisation”.

Mengele acknowledged that the Nazi experiment on race had failed but drastic measures still had to be taken to combat what he perceived as the planet’s “overpopulation”.

“Humans must make a decision on how to survive in modern times,” he warned. “Eugenics has not succeeded in the short-run. Must find a solution.

“If overpopulation continues, the intelligent beings will die out.”

And he added: “It is absolutely necessary that the German people forget their past or there is no going forward.”

Born in 1911 in the Bavarian village of Gunzburg, Mengele was the eldest of three sons. He was apparently refined, intelligent and popular and studied philosophy at Munich and medicine at Frankfurt University.

In 1937 he joined the Nazi party, and in 1938 went to the SS. Four years later he was wounded while serving at the Russian front and was pronounced unfit for duty.

It was in 1943, at the age of 32, when he was transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

He initially gained notoriety as an SS physician who eagerly supervised the selection of arriving prisoners.

Mengele would determine who would be killed and who would become a forced labourer and worked to death.

He then made the fateful move into “experimentation” – and is believed to be directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews.

While his diaries show how Mengele found plenty of time to pontificate on life, there is no mention of his stomach-churning experiments.

He once injected chemicals into ­children’s eyeballs in an attempt to change their colour.

He was also hugely fascinated by twins and once sewed Gypsy children together to create Siamese twins.

Notes of his operations were destroyed but it is thought that at least 3,000 twins were subjected to his experiments and thousands more killed.

He once ordered his assistant to round up 14 pairs of Gypsy twins during the night. Mengele placed them on his polished marble dissection table and put them to sleep.

He then proceeded to inject chloroform into their hearts, killing them instantly. Mengele then began dissecting and meticulously noting each and every piece of the twins’ bodies.

Bizarrely, many of the camp survivors recall Mengele as a gentle, affable man who befriended them as children and gave them chocolates.

Since many had immediately been separated from their families upon entering the camp, Mengele became a sort of father figure.

But the children were acutely aware that they could be killed at any time.

He once drew a line on the wall of the children’s block about 5ft 2in from the floor. All those whose heads could not reach were sent to their deaths.

He was also capable of sudden bursts of extreme violence. Author Robert Jay Lifton, in his book The Nazi Doctors, reports how one terrified mother did not want to be separated from her 13-year-old daughter.

She bit and scratched the face of the SS man who tried to force her to her assigned line, so Mengele drew his gun and shot both the woman and the child.

With the comment “away with this s***” he then sent to the gas chambers all the people from her transport who had previously been selected for work.

One survivor also recalled that one block was infected with lice – and Mengele solved the problem by gassing all the 750 women assigned to it.

In 1945, as Hitler’s empire began to crumble and the Soviets advanced, Mengele went on the run.

He escaped the Red Army and, incredibly, was released twice from American detention camps when they failed to realise he was a wanted war criminal.

After four years of hiding on a farm in southern Germany, his wealthy family bought him the help of former Nazis so he could flee to South America.

Details gradually emerged of his horrific regime and he became one of the most wanted Nazi criminals.

He lived first in Argentina, only fleeing when fellow Nazi Adolf Eichmann was captured by the Israeli security forces and taken for execution. Then he went to Paraguay, where the regime was sympathetic to him, before moving to Brazil.

There he lived out the final years of his life as a fugitive in a bungalow in a slum suburb of São Paulo.

Mengele became a compulsive writer and journalist, spending most of his time tending his garden, making furniture, hiking and studying plants and animals.

In 1977, he was visited by his only son, Rolf, who is now 66 and a retired lawyer in Germany. He has changed his name to Jenckel.

Rolf 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, aged 67, when he accidentally drowned or possibly suffered a stroke while swimming in the Atlantic off Brazil.

As much as 95% of the auctioned material – understood to have been donated by a Mengele family member – has not been translated.

The diaries take the form of 31 ­manuscripts detailing his time in Paraguay and Brazil from 1960 to 1975.

Mengele speaks of himself in the third person, or uses a pseudonym, “Andreas”.

He talks about meeting girls and refers to his fear of getting one pregnant while musing about the problem of controlling the number of births.

He also complains about the number of unemployed in Germany from 1929 to 1932, the “shameful” peace after the First World War, how his ideology developed and that taxes were too high.

He also explains that there couldn’t be any mistrust between himself and his son, since his son has no Jewish blood.

Details emerge of a man tormented from an early age.

He states he was immature and alone as a youngster and claims: “It would have been different if I lived with good families. Would it have been different to have lived with people who were educated themselves, and would it have been different if they would have taken care of me?”

A spokesman for Alexander Historic Auctions, which sold the diaries in Connecticut, said: “This archive, the vast majority of which has never been published or perhaps even viewed, offers an in-depth view into the cruellest mind of the 20th century. These are intensely personal writings of a desperate man, not penned over a single evening but over 15 years as he fled his pursuers.

“They illustrate a remorseless, angry, narcissistic, vain, pseudo-intellectual murderer seeking to leave his mark on the world. In these writings, Mengele describes himself – it is our hope these writings will also describe Mengele.”

Read more: 

Heinrich Muckter


A FORMER Nazi doctor grew rich promoting the drug that caused the world's worst medical disaster, according to a British thalidomide expert whose claims will be used in a global class action launched by Melbourne lawyer Peter Gordon.

Research by Dr Martin Johnson - chief executive of Britain's Thalidomide Trust - shows that former Nazi doctor Heinrich Muckter was paid huge bonuses before thalidomide was exposed in 1961 as the cause of thousands of deaths and terrible birth defects.

Dr Johnson's information is likely to generate compensation claims by hundreds of surviving victims.

Mr Gordon, his former firm Slater & Gordon and lawyers in America and Britain will ask courts in at least four countries to examine the past of Grunenthal, the company that developed thalidomide in post-war Germany.

Courts will hear that in one year alone Grunenthal paid Dr Muckter 22 times his annual executive salary after thalidomide was rushed on to the market without proper testing in the 1950s. Among other Nazis linked with Grunenthal was convicted war criminal Otto Ambros - later retained as an adviser by the British firm that sold the drug in Australia.

Lawyers for hundreds of alleged victims never before compensated will lead evidence suggesting that Grunenthal wrongly assured distributors, doctors and the public that its new sedative was safe for pregnant women.

This aggressive marketing campaign was despite the fact the drug had never been tested on pregnant mammals and was chemically similar to drugs known to harm embryos.

It also ignored the fact that the wife of a Grunenthal worker given samples of the drug had a baby born without ears on Christmas Day, 1956 - well before thalidomide's official release.

A dossier of documents suggests federal and state governments and medical authorities were apathetic if not negligent and this allowed Grunenthal and its distributors not to be blamed for the tragedy.

St Neots, UK. Dr Martin Johnson, who runs Britain's Thalidomide Trust. Pic Britta Campion Source: The Daily Telegraph

Thalidomide ....a part of a global medical disaster. Source: The Daily Telegraph

IT caused the worst medical disaster in history. It destroyed more lives than were lost on 9/11. Its effects rival Chernobyl and Bhopal, the sinking of the Titanic or the Jonestown Kool-Aid cult poisoning.

It was a drug sold worldwide under a bewildering number of trade names to treat a bewildering number of ailments. Tragically, one of them was to treat morning sickness.

For pregnant women, it was no great remedy for nausea.

For their unborn children, it was deadly.

It killed tens of thousands of babies, left thousands more horribly deformed.

Some midwives deliberately let limbless babies die. Some parents went mad or committed suicide or abandoned their infants to charities or the state. Others resigned themselves to lives of quiet desperation and anonymous heroism.

The drug was thalidomide. It is almost exactly 50 years since an Australian doctor called William McBride alerted the world to the monstrous side-effects its makers failed to uncover before pushing it on the market.

Now another Australian, Melbourne lawyer Peter Gordon has taken up the thalidomide cause.

Gordon doesn't dodge fights. As a gun plaintiff lawyer - representing victims of asbestos, tobacco, silicone breast implants and sexual abuse in the Catholic Church - he took on powerful opponents and mostly won.

When he retired two years ago as head of heavyweight law firm Slater and Gordon to be a consultant - and to improve his tennis game - he told himself he had quit fighting big class actions. He was wrong.

It all changed the day a thalidomide victim he had met by chance asked advice about signing a document. Through him, Gordon met Ken Youdale, an 86-year-old Sydney war hero dedicated to helping thalidomide victims in memory of his daughter Niki, who died from the drug's effects years ago.

Gordon and Youdale struck up a friendship then struck a deal last year for the British distributor of the drug (Diageo, formerly Distillers) to pay $50 million in extra compensation to 45 surviving Australian and New Zealand thalidomiders. This followed a similar deal for British victims.

For Gordon, the victory was not the end of a campaign. It was the start of a crusade.

Details of the damage done have been hidden in yellowing archives never before translated into English, and in the memories of people who have stayed silent for half a century.

Through Ken Youdale, he met British and German activists investigating thalidomide's murky origins in post-war Germany.

Four are thalidomiders - London jewellery dealer Nick Dobrik, Yorkshire businessman Guy Tweedy, Melbourne-born office manager Mikey Argy and German teacher Monika Eisenberg. Backing them is former Royal Air Force officer Dr Martin Johnson, who runs Britain's Thalidomide Trust.

Martin Johnson is working on a book about their discoveries but the last chapter is still unwritten. It will probably figure Gordon in what could be his biggest battle yet.

THE horror story of thalidomide begins in the picture-book town of Stolberg, near Aachen, in western Germany.

After the war, Aachen was an escape route for Nazis, who secretly crossed the border along what locals call "rat lines" into Belgium or Holland then bought their way to South America.


In the town square, children play, couples eat ice creams and old people walk fat dogs. The only jarring note is a banner above the town hall door that translates as "No place for neo-nazis".

It's a clue that the region attracts the young fascists that are modern Germany's dirty little secret. Near Stolberg's square is a handsome old building enclosing a cobbled courtyard.

Locals call this the "mother building" of Chemie Grunenthal.

At each Grunenthal site, guards watch for certain cars and people, especially thalidomiders, easy to spot because they mostly have shortened arms and deformed hands.

Employees do not talk to thalidomiders - it is "verboten".

"They know my car," says Monika Eisenberg, who lives in Cologne but often visits Stolberg in her little black Opel.

Eisenberg, 49, is one of about 2700 surviving German thalidomiders, known as "Contergan kinder" (Contergan children) after a trade name used to label a common thalidomide-based drug. Her left arm is half normal length, the hand tiny and bent so that she wears her wedding ring on her right hand, which has five fingers but

no thumb.

But the teacher turned counsellor has an agile mind - she played chess for money to get through university - and is part of the "posse" helping the international legal team build a case against Grunenthal.

The company can't be sued by victims in Germany because of a series of local laws, some specially enacted to protect it.

When Monika Eisenberg was a teenager, her father was killed in a rock-climbing accident. About that time, her mother refused to sign an agreement to accept the tiny compensation on offer. Two men visited, urging her mother to sign. When she refused, Monika recalls, one said to her mother: "Mrs Eisenberg, you have a nice house and nice children. Your husband just died. We hope nothing else happens in future."

Monika never forgot that veiled threat - and the sense of being watched. Now she watches them.

The Grunenthal security guards know her because each time "one of us dies", she says, she places flowers and lights a candle outside their buildings. Honouring the death of fellow thalidomide victims is harmless enough but it marks her as a troublemaker.

Otto Ambros, chairman of the firm's advisory board in 1980 and until his death in 1990 a respected figure in the global pharmaceutical business, also happened to be Hitler's chief chemical weapons expert and a convicted war criminal.

He helped invent the deadly Sarin nerve gas and ran a section of Auschwitz where thousands of slave workers died. He reputedly killed prisoners to demonstrate the gas and in 1941 wrote that his "dear friendship with the SS is proving very beneficial."

Ambros was too valuable a Nazi to be executed for war crimes. So valuable, he later briefed Britain and the United States on nerve gas - and was retained by the British firm Distillers.

Some of Ambros's wartime comrades hanged at Nuremberg but he served only eight years prison on charges of using slave labour before reputedly being employed by Grunenthal.

Industry needed scientists and Germany - like the US, the Soviet Union and Britain - tended to ignore the likelihood that some valuable knowledge was based on experiments done on prisoners in concentration camps. Enter Heinrich Muckter, a former Nazi doctor who had been caught by American soldiers fleeing with a truckload of stolen laboratory equipment from Krakow University in the war's last days.

Muckter, with his mentor - eminent former Nazi, Werner Schulemann - thrived with Grunenthal.

THE first known thalidomide victim was born on Christmas Day, 1956, the daughter of a loyal Grunenthal worker given the new drug for his wife to try. His baby was born without ears.

It could have been worse. Babies would be born in the following years with terrible deformities - no anus, no vagina, no arms, no legs - and internal problems so awful it made infant death inevitable.

But missing ears were bad enough - and so close to home it should have rung alarm bells. Except no one wanted to hear. The new product was not about pushing the boundaries of medicine for the common good; it was about profits..

It took just three years from patent to market. Historians now pose the question: Were the Germans recycling and branding a by-product left over from wartime research into antidotes for nerve gas, Otto Ambros's specialty? A cynic might suspect its promoters saw no reason to "waste" time and money in the rush to get to market.

If so, it was a monstrous misjudgment says Monika Eisenberg, who was born at Cologne more than five years after that first earless baby at Stolberg.

Australia was one of many countries that readily accepted the drug - despite the fact the US (eventually) and East Germany (tellingly) banned it because it seemed too risky.The Thalidomide Trust's chief executive Martin Johnson deals daily with the human wreckage left by the drug. He is determined to right a wrong the British political and legal establishment entrenched in the 1960s and 1970s by backing the huge Distillers firm when it dodged its moral obligation to properly compensate thalidomide victims and their shattered families.

Johnson is a former air force pilot and committed Christian with a PhD whose previous job was setting up a hospice for dying children.

Guy Tweedy, a blunt, self-made Tory billboard operator from Yorkshire, Mikey Argy, an eloquent Melbourne-born single mother, and Nick Dobrik, a Cambridge-educated antique jewellery dealer, all share the desire to help thalidomiders worse off than themselves. Monika and Tomas are Germans ashamed of their country's role in the thalidomide disaster. None of them are in it for money, although Mikey Argy says she could use some extra funds to educate her two girls and modify her house to better suit someone with half-length arms.

If there is a uniting symbol, it is the picture of an armless and legless woman with a big smile, hanging behind Martin Johnson's desk. She was, he says, one of the most profoundly handicapped people in the world until she died four years ago. And one of the bravest. She once told him "I've got a mouth and ears, haven't I?". Johnson's voice falters as he tells her story. As if missing every limb wasn't enough, he says, she was abused as a child. And she is not the only one.

Tweedy and Dobrik keep pictures of the same woman in their briefcases to remind them why they do what they do.

In the five years that Grunenthal ignored warning signs their drug was dangerously flawed, it made huge profits selling thalidomide-based drugs around the world. Ex-Nazi Heinrich Muckter was paid a bonus of 22 times his annual executive salary of 14,400 marks in 1961 alone.

Meanwhile, for the drug's makers, the thalidomide money still rolls in.

So far, it has been sold under dozens of trade names in dozens of countries. Its applications range from cold and flu preparations to treating leprosy in the Third World and cancer in the first, an application praised by some and questioned by others. Thalidomide gets a better press these days. Stories regularly appear in the media marvelling that the formerly notorious drug now apparently saves lives. But regardless of whether it is effective against leprosy or cancer, it still deforms babies. You might imagine the last thalidomide child was born in 1962, in the year after the alarm was raised. In fact, hundreds have been born since then.

The last was just six months ago in Brazil, where pregnant women sometimes still take the drug without realising the harm it can do. It will all be in Martin Johnson's book. His working title is The Last Nazi War Crime.


The Nazi Doctor Who Escaped Justice

Dr Carl Vaernet's barbaric medical experiments on gay concentration camp prisoners were hidden from history for over 50 years. Unlike some other Nazi doctors, he was never put on trial at Nuremburg. Instead, with British military collusion, he escaped to Argentina, where he lived openly and continued his research into methods for the eradication of homosexuality.

Vaernet was a Copenhagen doctor who, realising the opportunities offered by the homophobic policies of the Third Reich, joined the Nazi party and enlisted in the SS to pursue his research into a “cure” for homosexuality. In Buchenwald , this research was conducted on the personal authority of Heinrich Himmler. The Gestapo chief demanded the “extermination of abnormal existence… the homosexual must be entirely eliminated”.

A book published in Denmark in 2004 exposed the truth about Vaernet's crimes against queer humanity, his escape from justice after the end of World War Two, and the failure of Allied governments to prosecute him for war crimes.

The book, Carl Vaernet – Danish SS-Doctor in Buchenwald , is authored by Hans Davidsen-Nielsen, Niels Høiby, Jakob Rubin and Birger Danielsen. It is the culmination of a 10-year campaign that I have been waging to expose Dr Vaernet's wartime activities and the cover-up by successive Danish and Allied governments.

The campaign only took off in 1998, when I wrote direct to the then Danish Prime Minister, Poul Rasmussen, calling for an inquiry into the Vaernet case. This letter triggered a public outcry in Denmark , where most people had been unaware of Vaernet's war crimes and the high-level measures taken to shield him from prosecution.

The Danish government did not reply to my letter for over a year – not until June 1999. Even then, the Prime Minister passed the buck to the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Justice passed the buck to the National Archives of Denmark.

Refusing to launch an inquiry into my allegation that Vaernet had committed crimes against humanity and that his escape from justice had been aided by prominent Danish citizens, the Ministry of Justice absolved itself of all responsibility for the investigation of war crimes. It advised me to conduct the criminal investigation myself, referring me to the Danish National Archives. But when I approached the Archives, I was told the files on Vaernet were classified. They were not open to the public and they could not be examined until 2025.

Unofficially, however, the government's reaction was huge embarrassment. Faced with mounting public and political pressure, Danish journalists and historians were eventually given access to the previously closed files. Based on this archive material, key details of Vaernet's “medico-nazism” were subsequently revealed in Danish newspapers in late 1999. These articles were the starting-point of the new book.

Vaernet was a member of the Danish Nazi Party from the late 1930's. As a doctor, he specialised in hormone research and treatments.

In April 1940 Denmark was occupied by the Nazis. During the following years, fewer and fewer patients visited his clinic because of his known Nazi sympathies.

As a result of declining patients and the general business downturn during the war, by 1943 Carl Vaernet realised that he could not earn enough money in Denmark to carry on his hormone research, which included treatments to “cure” homosexuality.

This prompted him to approach the Nazis, who were well known for their hatred of homosexuals and their desire to “eliminate…the perverted world of the homosexual”. Vaernet met the chief Nazi doctor, Reichsarzt-SS Ernst Grawitz, who proposed Vaernet continue researching his treatments for homosexuality on behalf of the SS.

In November 1943, the Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler approved Vaernet's research project. A month later a contract was signed and Vaernet was given the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer.

Vaernet visited Buchenwald concentration camp at least six times between June and December 1944. To test his hormone “cures” for homosexuality, he operated on 17 male inmates. They were forced to undergo an operation that involved the insertion of an artificial gland. Two of these “patients” later died from infections caused by the insanitary conditions in Buchenwald .

Vaernet addressed his final report to Heinrich Himmler on 10 February 1945, describing his hormone research and alleged results without even mentioning his experiments in Buchenwald . This omission suggests his research was probably deemed - even by him - a failure; or at least not sufficiently credible to merit a mention.

When Denmark was liberated on 5 May 1945, Vaernet was arrested and detained at Alsgade Skole POW camp in Copenhagen , where he remained from June to November 1945. This camp was Denmark 's main holding centre for war criminals and Nazi collaborators.

The POW camp was run jointly by the British Military Mission in Denmark and by the Danish intelligence service under the jurisdiction of the Danish police. The leading officer at Alsgade Skole was a British Major, Ronald F. Hemingway. In September 1945, Major Hemingway is recorded as stating that Vaernet "undoubtedly will be sentenced as a war criminal".

Despite this official view, during his imprisonment Vaernet succeeded in convincing the British military authorities, as well as Danish police officers, that his hormone therapies were morally justifiable and could be an international success. He subsequently received special, privileged treatment in the POW camp.

Unlike the other prisoners, he was allowed to communicate with the outside world, and he used this privilege to correspond with business people who were working to market his hormone treatments – including his therapies to "cure" homosexuality.

During his detention, Vaernet filed three Danish patents, one American patent, and possibly a British patent as well. He also appears to have gained promising contacts with the British-American pharmaceutical company Parke, Davis & Comp. Ltd., based in London and Detroit, and with the American chemical giant Du Pont.

In November 1945, in response to Vaernet's claim that he was suffering from a serious heart condition that required urgent treatment, Major Hemingway authorised his transfer to a Copenhagen hospital.

Even more bizarrely, in February 1946 this wanted war criminal was discharged from hospital and allowed to go to his brother's farm in the countryside to convalesce. The consultant doctor of the hospital, Tage Bjering, had written to the authorities that Vaernet suffered from a critical, chronic heart condition for which there was no cure. Bjering estimated that Vaernet would probably only live one or two more years "and maybe not even that long".

New evidence recently unearthed reveals a different story. Vaernet's heart tests were entirely normal. He received no treatment at all during his three months in hospital. He merely stayed there, effectively as a guest of his colleague, Dr Bjering. This suggests that his alleged heart condition was faked as a way of getting himself out of the POW camp.

After Vaernet was discharged from hospital in February 1946, prominent Danes made further attempts to convince the authorities of the seriousness of Vaernet's illness, apparently in bid to get the threat of war crime charges dropped. In August 1946 one of them wrote to the Danish Public Prosecutor that Vaernet's health had deteriorated so badly that he was almost crippled. A vitamin E treatment by a respected professor at a Swedish hospital in Stockholm, Anders V. Kristensson, was allegedly the only hope for him. On the basis of a medical certificate supplied by one of Vaernet's high-placed friends, the Public Prosecutor gave Vaernet a travel permit to go to Sweden for treatment, and Vaernet was even paid a small state stipend to support himself during his stay there.

But letters written by Vaernet in this period, between February and August 1946, make no mention of his declining health. Instead, they refer to the fact "everything is ready in Argentina" and "the money is ready in Sweden". They also cite an agreement with "pont" (probably the American chemical corporation Du Pont).

During his brief stay In Sweden, Vaernet is thought to have changed his name and assumed a new identity. He probably got his costs paid by the extensive Nazi escape network that operated in Denmark and Sweden during the post-war years, often with the connivance of the Catholic Church.

During November 1946 Danish police contacted the Swedish professor Kristensson who was supposed to be treating Vaernet with his vitamin E cure, but Kristensson told them he had never heard of Vaernet. 

The last trace of Vaernet in Europe is in December 1946, when he visited a Dutch doctor in Amsterdam. Soon afterwards he probably boarded an trans-Atlantic passenger ship headed for South America.

In January 1947 the police chief in Frederiksberg (a district of Copenhagen) was informed that "Vaernet has arrived in Brazil". The police chief did nothing. Vaernet was identified later that year as having settled in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. He was living there under his own name, and he subsequently resumed his hormone research with funding from the Argentine Ministry of Health.

During the spring of 1947 US Brigadier Telford Taylor, who was the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg doctors' trial, wrote to the Danish Medical Association with new information about Vaernet's wartime activities. A little later, in the summer of that year, Danish newspapers began reporting details about the Copenhagen doctor's medical experiments at Buchenwald.

This put considerable pressure on the Danish authorities to seek Vaernet's extradition from Argentina. But in February 1949 the Danish Minister of Justice, Niels Busch-Jensen, concluded that it would be futile and decided against extradition proceedings.

Vaernet's son Kjeld, later twice inquired on his father's behalf whether the Danish government would refrain from pressing charges if he went back to Denmark. On both occasions, in 1959 and 1965, the Justice Minister declined to give any guarantees. Vaernet therefore stayed in Argentina until he died in November 1965. He lived there openly, with the full knowledge of the Danish and Allied authorities. They made no attempt to prosecute him for war crimes, possibly because his research to “cure” homosexuality was, in those days, regarded by the western medical and political establishment as legitimate, even commendable.


Brandt, Rudolf

Born 2.6.1909 in Frankfurt (Oder), died 2.6.1948. Lawyer. Personal Administrative Officer to the Reichsfiihrer SS, Himmler. Defendant in the Medical Trial. Rudolf Brandt studied law in Berlin and lena. In 1933 he obtained a post on the staff of the Reichsfiihrer SS, Heinrich Himmler, where he worked as Himmler's personal consultant, as of 1938. After Himmler had replaced Wilhelm Frick as Minister of the Interior, Brandt was additionally appointed Ministerial Councilor and Head of the Minister's Office in the Reich Ministry of the Interior. Rudolf Brandt joined the NSDAP in 1932 and entered the SS a year later. He attained the rank of Colonel in the General SS. As personal consultant to Himmler, Rudolf Brandt maintained close relations to the Reich Business Manager of the SS Research and Instruction Society "Das Ahnenerbe." Wolfram Sievers, and it was in this function that he participated in the coordination of most of the involuntary experiments on concentration camp inmates that comprised the indictment in the Medical Trial. Rudolf Brandt was sentenced to death by American Military Tribunal No. I in August 1947. He was hanged on 2.6.1948.

Brandt, Karl

Brandt, Karl was the son of a Prussian major. Afler receiving the Gymnasium diploma, he studied medicine in Jena, Freiburg i. Br., Munich and Berlin and graduated in Berlin, in 1928. He underwent his medical licensure on 1.7.1929.

From 1929 he worked as an intern at the "Bergmannsheil" Hospital in Bochum. He transferred as an assistant medical director to the Surgical University Clinic of Berlin in 1935. Brandt joined the NSDAP on 1.3.1932 (No. 1,009,617). In addition, he became active as Head of the Bochum chapter of the Reich Protection League (Reichsschutzbund) and was also active in the SA-Group in Westphalia.

Afler having impressed Hitler when called in to give emergency treatment to Hitler's wounded adjutant Wilhelm Brückner, he was appointed escort physician to Adolf Hitler in 1934. Thereupon Karl Brandt embarked on a meteoric career. In July 1934 he transferred as SS Second Lieutenant from the SA to the SS and was rapidly promoted to the rank of SS Major in the Staff of the SS Main Office.

Afler the invasion of Poland he was posted as SS Lieutenant-Colonel in the Waffen-SS to the Body Guard Division Adolf Hitler. From mid-May of 1940 until the end of the war he was assigned to Hitler's staff, afler having been appointed professor. From then on Brandt acted as Hitler's special plenipotentiary in all matters relating to the German health system.

Afler the invasion of Russia, Hitler entrusted Karl Brandt with the coordination of both the military and the civilian sectors of the health service and on 28.7.1942, appointed him to the post of Plenipotentiary for Health and Medical Services, at the expense of the Reich Health Leader Leonardo Conti, whose inlluence was slowly waning.

In September 1943 Brandt's field of authority was even expanded: He became General Commissioner for Health and Sanitation, only answerable to the Führer and Reich Chancellor, and was in charge of the coordination of the entire German health system, besides appropriating to himself special powers over medical research. On 25.8.1944, he was appointed Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation and in addition became a member of the Reich Research Council.

In the final stages of the Nazi dictatorship he directed, together with Paul Rostock, the entire medical research program and in the last year of the war he even worked as Special Commissioner for Chemical Warfare. From the very beginning Karl Brandt had played an important role in the planning and execution of the "euthanasia" program. In 1939 Hitler appointed him, together with Philipp Bouhler, his personal "Commissioners for Euthanasia."

The second stage of the murder of psychiatric patients, which was to provide reserve capacily in hospitals for the wounded of the war in the air, was named after Karl Brandt as "Action Brandt." Furthermore, in his post as General and Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation, Brandt was involved in a whole series of the human experimentation in concentration camps that were tried in the Medical Trial, in particular the epidemic jaundice experiments and combat agent experiments.

In the last weeks of the war Hitler ordered Karl Brandt to be summarily court-martialed because his Personal Physician and Reich Commissioner had allegedly allowed his wife and his child to be overtaken by American troops who were advancing to Thuringia. He was arrested for "defeatism and cowardice" and was sentenced to death on 17.4.1945.

During the following weeks he was transferred several times and was finally transported to Flensburg, where he was released on 3.5.1945 at the instigation of Albert Speer. On 23.5.1945 he was captured by the English, together with the Donitz Government.

In 1946 there were strong initiatives in the British military government to make Karl Brandt the principal defendant of an extensive physicians' trial. However, Brandt was handed over to the Americans for interrogation in connection with his involvement in the preparations for chemical warfare and after that Brandt was not sent back to the British from Nuremberg.

Karl Brandt and a further twenty-two Nazi functionaries and medical scientists were indicted and tried by American Military Tribunal No. I in August 1947. He was sentenced to death and hanged in Landsberg prison on 2.6.1948.

(the above text comes from the book by Dörner, Klaus, The Nuremberg Medical Trial, 1946/47:guide to the microfiche-edition , K.G. Saur, 2001)


  • 1.7.1929.

Fischer, Fritz.

Fischer, Fritz.

Born 5.10.1912 in Berlin. Physician. Dr. med.. Major in the Waffen-SS. Defendant in the Medical Trial. Fritz Fischer acquired his medical license at the end of his medical studies on 15.1.1938 and as of 1.11.1939, 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 Body Guard Division Adolf Hitler. After being wounded he was posted back to Hohenlychen and became active in the camp hospital of the Ravensbrilück Women's Concentration Camp as a surgical assistant to Karl Gebhardt.

He was an active accomplice in the surgical experiments carried out on concentration camp inmates there. Fritz Fischer was from 1.5.1937 an NSDAP member (No. 4,945.298). He had al ready joined the SS on 1.11.1933 (SS No. 203.578).

Fischer was condemned to life imprisonment by the American Military Tribunal. Later his sentence was reduced to 15 years and he was released in March 1954.

(the above text comes from the book by Dörner, Klaus, The Nuremberg Medical Trial, 1946/47:guide to the microfiche-edition , K.G. Saur, 2001)


Gebhardt, Karl


Born 23.11.1897 in The Hague, died 2.6. 1948.

Surgeon. Prof. Dr. med. Medical Superintendent of the SS Hohenlychen Sanatorium, Consulting Surgeon of the Waffen-SS, Chief Surgeon in the Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police. Defendant in the Medical Trial.

Gebhardt studied medicine in Munich starting in 1919. After two years as an unpaid assistant physician he received a post as an intern at the Surgical Clinic of the University of Munich, under Sauerbruch in 1924 and later under Lexer. There he gained his habilitation in 1932.

In 1935, he switched to Berlin, where he was appointed associate professor. In 1936 he distinguished himself in his post as a head of the Medical Department of the Reich Academy for Physical Exercises as senior physician of the Olympic Games. In 1937 he became chair holder for orthopedic surgery at the University of Berlin. I

n his student days Gebhardt had been a supporter of the national-counter-rcvolutionary movement and was active among other things in the Volunteer Corps "the Upland Alliance."

He joined the NSDAP on 1.5.1933 (No. 1,723,317). He began his SS career in 1935 as a medical superintendent of the Hohenlychen Sanatorium. In 1938 Himmler appointed him as his personal physician. In 1940 he became Consulting Surgeon of the Waffen-SS and President of the German Red Cross. Starting in 1943 Gebhardt was active in the Reich Physician SS and Police, Ernst Grawitz's Staff as a Chief Surgeon.

He rose to the rank of SS Major General and Major General of the Waffen-SS. Due to his top position in the SS, Gebhardt was involved in a series of experiments on humans which were carried out on concentration camp prisoners.

He could pursue his personal research interests as a specialist in reconstructive surgery as the main coordinator of the surgical experiments carried out on prisoners of the Ravensbrück Women's Concentration Camp, in which he attempted to defend the principles of invasive war surgery against the controversial innovations of the sulfanilamide treatment of war injuries. Gebhardt was condemned to death by the American Military Tribunal No. I in August 1947 and executed on 2.6.1948.

(the above text comes from the book by Dörner, Klaus, The Nuremberg Medical Trial, 1946/47:guide to the microfiche-edition , K.G. Saur, 2001)


  • 23.11.1897~2.6. 1948

Genzken, Karl

Genzken, Karl.

Born 8.6.1895 in Preetz. Holstein. Physician. Dr. med. Major General of the Waffen-SS. Chief of the Medical Office of the Waffen-SS. Defendant in the Medical Trial. Genzken studied medicine in Marburg, Lahn, from 1906, completed his time as a junior intern in a hospital in Plauen and took his doctorate in 1912.

Immediately after that he entered the Medical Service of the Navy, to which he belonged until the end of the First World War. From 19 I 9 to 1934 he practiced in Preetz, Holstein. In 1934 he was reactivated as a reserve officer in the Naval Medical Service.

After that, he transferred to the SS Operational Main Office as assistant medical director, was promoted 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 7.7.1926 (No. 39,913). He joined the SS on 5.11.1933 (No. 207,954) and rose to the rank of SS Major General, and in the Waffen-SS to Major General.

Due to his high position in the medical establishment, Genzken was involved in a series of compulsory human experiments that were carried out on prisoners of several concentration camps. Genzken was condemned in August 1947 to life imprisonment by the American Military Tribunal No. I, although his sentence was later reduced to 20 years and he was released in April 1954.

(the above text comes from the book by Dörner, Klaus, The Nuremberg Medical Trial, 1946/47:guide to the microfiche-edition , K.G. Saur, 2001)


  • Preetz. Holstein
  • 8.6.1895~

Handloser, Siegfried

Handloser, Siegfried.

Born 25.3.1895 in Constance, died 3.7.1954 in Munich. Doctor, Prof. Dr. med., Lieutenant General of the German Armed Forces Medical Services, Chief of the German Armed Forces Medical Services. One of the accused in the Medical Trial. Handloser completed his school-leaving examinations in 1904 and entered the Kaiser Wilhelm Academy for military medical training in Berlin, where he passed his board certification examinations in 1910. He then did an internship. One year later, Handloser finished his medical doctorate in Strasbourg on the topic of specific treatment of Typhus Abdominalis. From the beginning of his academic career to the end of the Second World War, he was a member of the German Army Medical Service. In June, 1912, Handloser was promoted to the position of First Lieutenant. During the First World War, he worked behind both east and west fronts as a military physician. After the end of the war, he was transferred to the University of Giessen Medical Clinic to be trained as a specialist. Afterwards, he took on the directorship of the internal medicine department of a military hospital. In 1928, he was promoted to the position of Captain, becoming the official in charge of the Army Medical Inspectorate of the Reich Defense Ministry. In 1932, as a Colonel in the Medical Services, he took charge of the Corps and Military District (Wehrkreis) V in Stuttgart, and afterwards, became surgeon brigadier general, then major general of the Army near Dresden. In 1938, Handloser was promoted to the position of Army Group physician of the Army Group Command 3, and transferred to Vienna. There, as of 1938, he lectured on the problems of military medicine and, in October, 1939, was named honorary professor. After the beginning of the war, Handloser was called as a military doctor to the 141h und 121h Armies. In November, 1940, he was transferred to the Medical Inspectorate of the German Army, and on February I, 1941, he succeeded Anton Waldmann as Medical Inspector of the German Army. Shortly thereafter, he was named Army Physician by the Quarter Master General of the Supreme Command of the Army. In June, 1942, he was also appointed Chief of the Medical Services in the Supreme command of the German Armed Forces, and after this, Lieutenant General of the German Armed Forces Medical Services. Handloser was the highest technical and disciplinary medical authority in charge of the entire any medical personnel and responsible for their training. As of June 1942, this responsibility was extended to all branches of the military, to the Waffen-SS, as well as to the medical personnel in charge of prisoners of war of the German Armed Forces. For this reason, most of the medical war criminals were under his technical and disciplinary supervision. Handloser was relieved of his position as Medical Inspector of the Army and Army Physician in autumn, 1944. He remained, however, in the position of Chief of the Medical Services of the Armed Forces and was, in this capacity, entitled to issue orders to the entire German Armed Forces and the Waffen-SS. Because of his position of leadership and medical responsibility, Handloser was implicated in several cases dealt with during the Nuremberg Medical Trial involving experiments on concentration camp prisoners. He was fully informed of these experiments, yet in not one single case, did he intervene to stop them. He was convicted by the American Military Tribunal No. I in August, 1947, und sentenced to life imprisonment. This was later reduced to 20 years and, in 1954, he was released. Handloser died of cancer shortly afterwards.

(the above text comes from the book by Dörner, Klaus, The Nuremberg Medical Trial, 1946/47:guide to the microfiche-edition , K.G. Saur, 2001)

Mrugowsky, Joachim

Mrugowsky, Joachim.

Born 15.8.1905 in Rathenow/Havel. died 2.6.1948. 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 Medical Trial. Mrugowsky was the son of a general practitioner killed in September 1914 of World War I. He passed his schoolleaving examinations in March 1923. at the Real Gymnazium Rathenow and began his studies of natural sciences and medicine in Halle in 1925. He completed these in 1930/31 with a medical doctorate and a doctorate of natural sciences. as well as passing his medica] board examinations. After a two-year internship, he became an assistant at the Hygiene Institute of the University of Halle. Mrugowsky finished his habilitation in the area of hygiene at the University of Berlin, in 1938, and in September 1944, was made an associate professor there. In 1930, Mrugowsky had been made the group leader of a local National Socialist German Students' Association. On 1.3.1930 he joined the NSDAP (No. 210,049) and in 1931, he joined the SS, where he achieved the rank of colonel in both the General SS and the Waffen SS. From 1933 to 1935 Mrugowsky belonged to Department 18 of the Security Service in Halle and, in November 1934, received the ranking of SS Second Lieutenant. In 1938, he was made a Colonel and promoted to the staff of the medical department of the SS Special Service Troops as well as the Medical Office of the Waffen SS. In 1940, Mrugowsky took part in the conquest of the Western European neighboring lands as the troop physician of an SS "Das Reich" Division hospital company. In 1941 he was appointed chief of the SS Operational Main Office Hygiene Institute of the Waffen SS and in 1943, Senior Hygienist and Office Chief III at the Reich Physician SS and Police With the exception of the aviation medicine experiments, Mrugowsky was implicated in all of the non-volunteer human experiments conducted on concentration camp prisoners and prosecuted at the Nuremberg Medical Trial. He was condemned to death in August 1947, and executed on June 2,1948.

(the above text comes from the book by Dörner, Klaus, The Nuremberg Medical Trial, 1946/47:guide to the microfiche-edition , K.G. Saur, 2001)

Oberheuser, Herta

Oberheuser, Herta.

Born 15.5.1911 in Cologne, died on 24.1.1978. Dermatologist, Medical Doctor. Surgical assistant at the Hohenlychen Sanatoria and at Ravensbrück Women's Concentration Camp. Defendant in the Medical Trial. Oberheuser studied medicine from 1931 to 1937 in Bonn and Düsseldorf, and completed her medical doctorate in Bonn.

Afterwards she did a specialty training at the Skin Clinic of the Düsseldorf Medical Academy and, in 1940, received her license to practice as a specialist for skin and sexually transmitted diseases. From 1940 to 1943, Herta Oberheuser worked as a specialist and camp physician at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp.

There, under the direction of Karl Gebhardt, she actively participated in the surgical experiments on prisoners. She was later transferred as a surgical assistant to the SS Sanatorium Hohenlychen. In 1935, Oberheuser joined the League of German Girls and worked as a physician there (Ringarzt).

She joined the NSDAP on 1.5.1937 (Pg. No. 4,468,291). Oberheuser was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by the American Military Tribunal No.1 in August 1947. This was later reduced to 10 years, and in April 1952, she was released early because of "good conduct."

She then opened a practice in Stocksee near Plön in Schleswig-Holstein, however, had to close it again in response to protests of the Association of Former Ravensbrück Concentration Camp Prisoners.

(the above text comes from the book by Dörner, Klaus, The Nuremberg Medical Trial, 1946/47:guide to the microfiche-edition , K.G. Saur, 2001)


  • 15.5.1911 ~24.1.1978

Poppendick, Helmut


Poppendick, Helmut.

Born 6.1.1902 in Hude. Internist. Medical Doctorate, Chief of the Personal Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police. Defendant in the Medical Trial. Poppendick passed his school-leaving examinations in 1919 at the Oberrealschule in Oldenburg and studied medicine from 1919 to 1926 in Gottingen, Munich, and Berlin.

He completed his state medical board examinations in 1926 and, on 1.2.1928, received his medical license. Afterwards Poppendick worked for four years as a clinical assistant. primarily at the First Medical Clinic of Charité in Berlin. In 1932, he became a certified specialist in internal medicine.

Poppendick worked several months as an emergency doctor for the city of Berlin in Berlin East. Then, from June 1933 to October 1934 he was the assistant medical director at Virchow Hospital in Berlin. The following year 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 Intcrior. 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. There Poppendick was departmental head and staff leader of the Genealogical Office.

When this office was taken into the Reich Physician SS on 1.8.1939, Poppendick was retained as a main department head. At the beginning of the war, 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 January, 1941, he was released from the Medical Inspectorate of the German Army to join the Reich Physician SS, where he was promoted to head of scientific services in 1941. In November 1941, Poppendick was accepted into the Waffen SS. In 1943.

Ernst Grawitz of the Reich Physician SS appointed him to lead his personal staff. Poppendick joined the N5DAP and the SS in 1932 (Pg. No. 998.607 and SS No. 36.345). He ended his SS career at the rank of Colonel. Because of his high position. Poppendick was implicated in a series of involuntary medical experiments done on concentration camp prisoners.

He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment by the American Military Tribunal No. I in August 1947, however was released already in February 1951. Poppendick managed to receive his approval to get his medical services paid by insurance, in Oldenburg.

(the above text comes from the book by Dörner, Klaus, The Nuremberg Medical Trial, 1946/47:guide to the microfiche-edition , K.G. Saur, 2001)


  • 6.1.1902~

Rostock, Paul

Rostock, Paul.

Born 18.1.1892 in Kranz/Meseritz Area, died 17.6.1956 in Bad Tolz. Surgeon and university professor. Full Professor, Medical Doctorate, Medical Superintendent of the University of Berlin Surgical Clinic.

Head of the Medical Science and Research Office under Reich Commissioner Karl Brandt. Defendant in the Medical Trial. Rostock studied medicine in Greifswald and Jena, completing his medical doctorate in 1921, in Jena. He received his medical license and became an intern at the University of Jena Surgical Clinic.

From 1927 to 1933, he 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 De panment.

Rostock joined the NSDAP on 1.5.1937 (No. 5,917,621) and the National Socialist German Physicians' Association on 20.2.1940 (Nr. 31,569). Because of his very high position, Rostock was charged of implication in several series of experiments on concentration camp prisoners. However, he was found innocent and released in August 1947.

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

As of 1948, Rostock worked as medical supervisor of the Versehrten Hospital in Posscnhofen. From 1953 to his death in 1956, he worked as medical supervisor of the Versorgungs Hospital in Bayreuth.

(the above text comes from the book by Dörner, Klaus, The Nuremberg Medical Trial, 1946/47:guide to the microfiche-edition , K.G. Saur, 2001)


  • 18.1.1892 ~17.6.1956

Treite, Percy Dr.

Treite, Percy Dr.

Camp doctor at Ravensbrtick Women’s Camp, charged with medical experiments on inmates, removing ovaries of young Gypsy girls. Sentenced to death by a British court at Hamburg 3.247. (Committed suicide while waiting for the execution.)

Block 10 ~ Auschwitz

Block 10 was the medical experimentation block in Auschwitz. German doctors, most of whom also participated in selections applied for permission to come work in Block 10 at Auschwitz with human subjects.

Block 10 was a balance of horrors. Being an experimental subject could prolong life, or end it immediately. An inmate assigned here might undergo skin testing for reaction to relatively benign substances, or receive a phenol injection to the heart for immediate dissection. Doctor Mengele, the most evil man in Auschwitz, reigned here; Dr. Ernst B.protected and saved many inmates here.

Block 10 was in the mens' camp, but most inmates were women. Prostitutes were also housed here, for the benefit of "elite" prisoners (mostly Germans).

Dr. Clauberg--sterilization by injection

His method was to inject a caustic substance into the cervix in order to obstruct the fallopian tubes. He chose as experimental subjects married women between the ages of twenty and forty, preferably those who had borne children...He had experimented with different substances, but was very secretive about the exact nature of the one he used, probably intent upon protecting any medical discovery from research competitors...

Dr. Clauberg ordered me to lie down on the gynecological table... Dr. Clauberg used this needle to give me an injection in my womb. I had the feeling that my stomach would burst with the pain. I began to scream so that I could be heard through the whole block.

Lifton pp. 271-278.

Clauberg was imprisoned in the Soviet Union, then repatriated to Germany, where he returned to medical practice, proudly claiming "to have perfected an absolutely new method of sterilization" which would be "of great use today in certain cases." Due to an outcry by survivor groups, he was arrested in 1955 and died mysteriously in his cell in 1957.

Horst Schumann--castration

Schumann performed the Xray experiments described elsewhere. 

SS Captain Dr. August Hirt--murder for The Racial Museum

Hirt selected thirty-nine women for their racial characteristics:

[They] were given a sham physical examination for reassurance, then gassed....the corpses were immediately transported to the anatomy pavilion of the Strasbourg University Hospital. A French imate, who had to assist the project's director...told how "preservation began immediately," with the arrival of bodies that were "still warm, the eyes...wide open and shining." There were two subsequent shipments of men, from each of whom the left testicle had been removed and sent to hirt's anatomy lab.

Hirt was captured at Strasbourg by French troops, who found

"many wholly unprocessed corpses,"many "partly processed corpses", and a few that had been "defleshed...late in 1944," and their heads burned to avoid any possibility of identification...

Hirt killed himself shortly after. Lifton, pp. 284-287.

Culture media

When animal meat became a rarity, human flesh was used as culture media:

"Since the SS stole the meat used to produce the culture media, the chief SS physician found it very simple to replace it with human flesh"... In Auschwitz, then, human flesh was more expendable than valuable animal meat...

Lifton, 289.


The supply of victims at Auschwitz was so plentiful, they were exported anywhere else experimental subjects were needed:

eight prisoners from Auschwitz sent to Sachsenhausen for experiments with epidemic hepatitis...twenty Jewish children, ages five to twelve, transferred from Auschwitz to Neuengamme in Hamburg, where they were subject to injections of virulent tubercular serum and to other experiments, until they were removed from Neuengamme and secretly murdered just before the arrival of Allied troops.

Lifton, 301

Doctors played a crucial role at Auschwitz. They participated in virtually all selections, decided on life and death among the patients in the medical blocks (executing the weakest with phenol injections), and in fact thronged to sign up at Auschwitz because of the plentiful human experimental material available in Block 10. These German doctors saved the lives of many prisoner doctors, typically not out of mercy but to enlist them as collaborators in their human experiments.

Dr. Mengele

Born 1911, he was the eldest of 3 sons of Karl Mengele, manufacturer. Refined, intelligent, and popular in his town, Josef studied philosophy at Munich and medicine at Frankfurt am Main. In 1931, he joined a paramilitary group; in 1935, his dissertation dealt with racial differences in the structure of the lower jaw. In 1937, he joined the Nazi party; in 1938, the SS. In 1942, he was wounded at the Russian front and pronounced unfit for service. The following year, he volunteered for assignment to the concentration camps and was sent to Auschwitz.

Mengele began his research on twins, and haunted every arriving convoy in search of these subjects. Twins had a special destiny in Auschwitz: they escaped the gas but became the subjects of horrendous experiments which many did not survive. Mengele had many of his subjects killed for dissection, or disposed of them when they weakened or he no longer needed them. Mengele was obsessed with the nurture v. nature controversy: he wished to demonstrate that heredity counted for everything, environment nothing. Among his interests were eye color, blood type, and noma, the disease that left gaping holes in the cheeks of Gypsy children inmates.

Dr. Jancu Veckler:

In September 1943, I arrived at the Birkenau Gypsy camp. There I saw a wooden table with eyeballs laying on it. All of them were tagged with numbers and little notes. They were pale yellow, pale blue, green and violet.

Anatomy, p. 326.

Former prisoner Hani Schick, a mother of twins who was subjected to experiments together with her children, testified that on July 4, 1944, on Mengele's instructions, blood samples were collected from her children in such quantities that the procedure ended in the death of both son and daughter.

Anatomy, p. 324.

In [a] case in which a mother did not want to be separated from her thirteen- or fourteen-year-old daughter, and bit and scratched the face of the SS man who tried to force her to her assigned line, Mengele drew his gun and shot both the woman and the child. As a blanket punishment, he then sent to the gas all people from that transport who had previously been selected for work, with the comment: "Away with this shit!"

Lifton, p. 343

Prisoners would "march before him with their arms in the air," Dr. Lengyel tells us, " while he continued to whistle his Wagner"--or it might be Verdi or Johann Strauss. It was a mannered detachment...

More overtly, there are many stories of his striking people with his long riding crop, in one case running it over tattoos on the bosoms of Russian women, as a Polish woman survivor described, "then striking them there", while "not at all excited but...casual,...just playing around a little as though it were a little funny."

Lifton, p. 344.

Mengele's passion for cleanliness and perfection carried over into a selections aesthetic; he would send people with skin blemishes to the gas chamber or those with small abcesses or even old appendectomy scars. "My two cousins were sent in front of my eyes by Mengele to their deaths because they had small wounds on their bodies," was the way one survivor put it.

Lifton, p. 345.

Mengele fed his legend by dramatizing murderous policies, such as his drawing a line on the wall of the children's block between 150 and 156 centimeters (about 5 feet or 5 feet 2 inches) from the floor, and sending those whose heads could not reach the line to the gas chamber.

Lifton, p. 346.

Mengele could also kill directly. He was observed to perform phenol injections, always with a correct medical demeanor...Mengele also shot a number of prisoners and was reported to have killed at least one by pressing his foot on a woman's body.

Lifton, p. 347.

This duality,--a confusing combination of affection and violence-- was constantly described to me. The Polish woman survivor, for example, described him as "impulsive...[with] a choleric temper,", but "in his attitude to children [twins] gentle as a father...."... Twin children frequently called him "Uncle Pepi", and other twins told how Mengele would bring them sweets and invite them for a ride in his car, which turned out to be "a little drive with Uncle Pepi, to the gas chamber." Simon J. put it most succinctly: "He could be friendly but kill."

Lifton, p. 355.

On January 18, 1945, as the Soviet Army arrived, Mengele fled Auschwitz. Captured in June, he spent time in two U.S.-run prison camps, where he was not identified as a war criminal. Eventually, he escaped and made his way to Argentina. He lived in hiding there, in Paraguay and in Brazil, until January 24, 1979, when he drowned while swimming in the ocean in Bertioga, Brazil.

Anatomy, pp. 329-331.

Dr. Ernst B.

This anonymous doctor, interviewed extensively by Lifton, refused to participate in selections, performed no harmful experiments, and saved the lives of many patients and inmates. After the war, he was acquitted of war crimes and staunchly defended by ex-inmates, some of whom even refused to identify him for the authorities.

He was a young general practitioner in 1939, when the war began. He joined the SS and was eventually sent to Auschwitz in mid-1943. Knowing little about the camps, he brought his wife. When he expressed horror at the sight of emaciated prisoners, a good friend, Dr. Bruno Weber, told him to send his wife home, but that if he stayed, he could function independently of the SS hierarchy in the camp.

Weber then laid out to B. "almost with irony" the central Auschwitz truth, invoking the official term the "Final Solution of the Jewish question": "He [Weber] said, 'If you want to see how it works, go look out of the window. You will see...two large smokestacks...The normal kind of production of this a thousand men in twenty-four hours."

Lifton, p. 305.

B. searches for a Jewish friend

A former prisoner physician, Michael Z., told me how taken aback he was when Ernst B. burst into the laboratory "look[ing] for a Jewish friend. He asked me, speaking quite loud...:'Do you know Cohen?' I told him, '[Please] be quiet, you do not have the right to speak like that.'" Dr. Z. explained why he felt it necessary to protect Dr. B. by quieting him down and, by implication, to protect himself as well....But at the same time Z. was deeply moved by [the] SS doctor's quest: "I understood that he was indeed a man who had a different kind of mind....that he was capable of human feelings...Yes, it did impress me...because it was unheard of to see an SS pronounce the name of a Jewish friend."

Lifton, p. 306.

He refuses to perform selections

But B., when repeatedly approached by Wirths, gave a series of reasons for refusing: that he had too much work, found it incompatible with his assignment, and simply could not--was psychologically unable to--do it.

Lifton, p. 308.

He protects and saves prisoners

Once over his selections crisis, Dr. B. had no major difficulties in Auschwitz. He consolidated a remarkable set of relationships with prisoner doctors...When they were sick he made provisions for their medications and general care and visited them himself. He helped them send messages to, and arrange visits with, wives and friends in other parts of the camp. He contributed to their survival by keeping them closely informed about various Auschwitz currents and plans. And he directly saved lives in additional ways: by protecting prisoner doctors from selections, by finding them and rescuing them from the gas chamber when they had been selected, and by the benign experiments...

Lifton, p. 315.

His friendship with Mengele

Dr. B. remembered Mengele as "helpful," "a really fine comrade"... and admirable in his open expression of "outspoken antipathies and sympathies..."

When I brought up the question of Mengele's human experiments, B. sprang to the defense of his friend: human experiments were "a relatively minor matter" in Auschwitz; children (who made up most of the twins Mengele studied) had little chance to survive in Auschwitz, but Mengele made certain they were well fed and taken care of... And when I asked B. whether he would change his views if I presented him with extensive evidence of Mengele's practice of occasionally sending one or both twins to the gas chamber, B. answered unhesitatingly in the negative "because under the conditions of Auschwitz one must always say that Mengele's experiments were not forms of cruelty."

Lifton, p. 321.

Evacuated to Dachau, he gives a gun to Jewish doctors

With Allied armies approaching, he discussed with prisoner doctors possible arrangements for their escape from Nazi control, including the idea of providing them with SS uniforms. He then shook hands with them and "said goodbye in a very friendly way", and as a last act took a pistol out of his drawer and gave it to one of them for their protection.

Lifton, 326.

Yet he is nevertheless a Nazi

At the end of the interview, when comparing Nazi times with the present, he said that, despite the "full liberalization" today, there is an absence of "ideals for youth", a "lack of commitment", which leads to "chaotic conditions" and the absence of "a coherent community". The Nazis "overdid it" in the opposite direction, he acknowledged, but in Hitler's admittedly "primitive methods" there was "something right", something that "was good with the Nazis."

Lifton, p. 330.





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.

Dr. Fritz Klein

Dr. Fritz Klein, a former camp doctor who conducted medical experiments on prisoners, stands among corpses in a mass grave. Bergen-Belsen, Germany, after April 15, 1945.

Soviet Physician Examines Auschwitz Camp Survivors

Soon after liberation, a Soviet physician examines Auschwitz camp survivors. Poland, February 18, 1945.

Survivor From Ravensbrueck

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.

Medical Personnel

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


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

Victim~Jacqueline Morgenstern

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 Soviet Prisoner of War

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

Sigmund Rascher

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.

Jadwiga Dzido

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.

Wladislava Karolewska

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.

Waldemar Hoven

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.

11 Year Old Victim

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.

Carl Clauberg (at left)

Nazi physician Carl Clauberg (at left), who performed medical experiments on prisoners in Block 10 of the Auschwitz camp. Poland, between 1941 and 1944.

Victor Brack

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

Medical Experiments Poisin

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

“useless eaters.”

During the 1930s, people with disabilities in Germany are referred to as “useless eaters.”

In Nazi Germany, 908 patients were transferred from Schoenbrunn, an institution for retarded and chronically ill patients, to the euthanasia "installation" at Eglfing-Haar to be gassed.

A monument to the victims now stands in the courtyard at Schoenbrunn. At the outbreak of World War II, Hitler ordered widespread "mercy killing" of the sick and disabled. The Nazi euthanasia program, codenamed Aktion T4, was instituted to eliminate "life unworthy of life."

Nazis sterilized 400,000 Germans and exterminated over 200,000 persons with disabilities.

At Hadamar Hospital in Germany, more than 10,000 people with disabilities were killed between January and August of 1941.

The first killings were by starvation, then by lethal injection. Gas chambers soon became the preferred method of execution. After being gassed, the bodies were cremated.

Doctors, not soldiers, were put in charge of killing the elderly and people with disabilities.

In Nazi Germany a Catholic bishop, Clemens von Galen, delivered a sermon in Munster Cathedral attacking the Nazi euthanasia program calling it "plain murder." In 1941, Hitler suspended Aktion T4, which had accounted for nearly a hundred thousand deaths by this time. The euthanasia program quietly continued using drugs and starvation instead of gassings.

As a final act of abandonment, tens of thousands of people who died in our state institutions were buried anonymously, in graves marked only by numbers. People of the time believed having names on the grave markers would be an embarrassment to the families of the deceased.

Connection to Different Time in History - In 1994, a group of self-advocates and allies began a project called Remembering with Dignity to place names on the numbered graves at Minnesota’s institutions, and to get an apology from the state for years of abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

Children of Bullinhuser Damm

Nuremberg Code

The Nuremberg Code is a set of research ethics principles for human experimentation set as a result of the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials at the end of the Second World War.


On August 19, 1947, the judges delivered their verdict in the "Doctors' Trial" against Karl Brandt and several others. They also delivered their opinion on medical experimentation on human beings. Several of the accused had argued that their experiments differed little from pre-war ones and that there was no law that differentiated between legal and illegal experiments.

In April of the same year, Dr. Leo Alexander had submitted to the Counsel for War Crimes six points defining legitimate medical research. The trial verdict adopted these points and added an extra four. The ten points constituted the "Nuremberg Code".

Although the legal force of the document was not established and it was not incorporated directly into either the American or German law, the Nuremberg Code and the related  Declaration of Helsinki are the basis for the Code of Federal Regulations Title 45 Volume 46 , which are the regulations issued by the United States Department of Health and Human Services governing federally-funded research in the United States. In addition, the Nuremberg code has also been incorporated into the law of individual states such as California, and other countries[citation needed].

The Nuremberg code includes such principles as informed consent and absence of coercion; properly formulated scientific experimentation; and beneficence towards experiment participants.

The ten points of the Nuremberg Code

The 10 points are, (all from United States National Institutes of Health) 

  1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him/her to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonable to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment. The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity.
  2. The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature.
  3. The experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation and a knowledge of the natural history of the disease or other problem under study that the anticipated results will justify the performance of the experiment.
  4. The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.
  5. No experiment should be conducted where there is a prior reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur; except, perhaps, in those experiments where the experimental physicians also serve as subjects.
  6. The degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment.
  7. Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability, or death.
  8. The experiment should be conducted only by scientifically qualified persons. The highest degree of skill and care should be required through all stages of the experiment of those who conduct or engage in the experiment.
  9. During the course of the experiment the human subject should be at liberty to bring the experiment to an end if he has reached the physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems to him to be impossible.
  10. During the course of the experiment the scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate the experiment at any stage, if he has probable cause to believe, in the exercise of the good faith, superior skill and careful judgment required of him that a continuation of the experiment is likely to result in injury, disability, or death to the experimental subject.

  • August 19, 1947

Nuremberg Principles

The Nuremberg principles were a set of guidelines for determining what constitutes a war crime. The document was created by the International Law Commission of the United Nations to codify the legal principles underlying the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi party members following World War II.

Principle I

Principle I states, "Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment."

Principle II

Principle II states, "The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law."

Principle III

Principle III states, "The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law."

Principle IV

Principle IV states: "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him".

This principle could be paraphrased as follows: "It is not an acceptable excuse to say 'I was just following my superior's orders'".

Previous to the time of the Nuremberg Trials, this excuse was known in common parlance as "Superior Orders". After the prominent, high profile event of the Nuremberg Trials, that excuse is now referred to by many as "Nuremberg Defense". In recent times, a third term, "lawful orders" has become common parlance for some people. All three terms are in use today, and they all have slightly different nuances of meaning, depending on the context in which they are used.

Nuremberg Principle IV is legally supported by the jurisprudence found in certain articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which deal indirectly with conscientious objection. It is also supported by the principles found in paragraph 171 of the Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status which was issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Those principles deal with the conditions under which conscientious objectors can apply for refugee status in another country if they face persecution in their own country for refusing to participate in an illegal war.

See also: Superior Orders Principle V

Principle V states, "Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law."

Principle VI

Principle VI states,

"The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

(a) Crimes against peace:(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).(b) War crimes:Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation of slave labor or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.(c) Crimes against humanity:Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime." Principle VII

Principle VII states, "Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law."

The Principles' power or lack of power See also: Sources of international law and International legal theory

In the period just prior to the June 26, 1945 signing of the Charter of the United Nations, the governments participating in its drafting were opposed to conferring on the United Nations legislative power to enact binding rules of international law.

As a corollary, they also rejected proposals to confer on the General Assembly the power to impose certain general conventions on states by some form of majority vote. There was, however, strong support for conferring on the General Assembly the more limited powers of study and recommendation, which led to the adoption of Article 13 in Chapter IV of the Charter

It obliges the United Nations General Assembly to initiate studies and to make recommendations that encourage the progressive development of international law and its codification. The Nuremberg Principles were developed by UN organs under that limited mandate.

Unlike treaty law, customary international law is not written. To prove that a certain rule is customary one has to show that it is reflected in state practice and that there exists a conviction in the international community that such practice is required as a matter of law. (For example, the Nuremberg Trials were a "practice" of the "international law" of the Nuremberg Principles; and that "practice" was supported by the international community.)

In this context, "practice" relates to official state practice and therefore includes formal statements by states. A contrary practice by some states is possible. If this contrary practice is condemned by other states then the rule is confirmed. (See also:Sources of international law)

In 1950, under UN General Assembly Resolution 177 (II), paragraph (a), the International Law Commission was directed to "formulate the principles of international law recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the judgment of the Tribunal." In the course of the consideration of this subject, the question arose as to whether or not the Commission should ascertain to what extent the principles contained in the Charter and judgment constituted principles of international law. The conclusion was that since the Nuremberg Principles had been affirmed by the General Assembly, the task entrusted to the Commission was not to express any appreciation of these principles as principles of international law but merely to formulate them. The text above was adopted by the Commission at its second session. The Report of the Commission also contains commentaries on the principles (see Yearbook of the Intemational Law Commission, 1950, Vol. II, pp. 374–378).

THE OVITZ FAMILY – Nazi Experiments

Of all the trials and tribulations endured by those born unique, few equal the horrors chronicled by Elizabeth Ovitz as she and her siblings were tortured and experimented upon by the infamous Nazi “Angel of Death” Josef Mengele.

The Ovitz family were Transylvanian Jews. Their patriarch, Shimshon Isaac Ovitz, was a respected Rabbi and dwarf. The majority of his children, Elizabeth included, inherited his pseudoachondroplasia dwarfism and upon his sudden death his widow reasoned that the seven stunted Ovitz siblings could secure a financially sound career as a traveling music troupe. In relatively short order, the siblings formed the ‘Jazz Band of Lilliput’ and began touring Central Europe.

By 1942, despite the unstable status of Central Europe of the march of the Nazi army, the Ovitz family managed to continue touring by concealing their Jewish identities. Elizabeth was able to marry in May of that same year to a young theatre manager named Yoshko Moskovitz.

The couple was forced to split just ten days after their marriage when Yoshko was drafted into a labour battalion. For another two years, the Ovitz family continued to tour, unfortunately they were in Hungary in March of 1944 when German troops occupied the country. On May 17 the Ovitz family was captured, loaded into a boxcar and sent off to Auschwitz.

Elizabeth recalled the first time she set eyes on Dr. Mengele as he stood on the platform dividing the new arrivals into those to be executed immediately and those who were to suffer the camp incarceration. Mengele was a deceptively handsome man and his eyes lit up when he saw the tiny Ovitz family.

Mengele had previously tortured, experimented upon and dissected dozens of twin siblings for no reason other than to document the similarities of their internal organs and in the Ovitz family Mengele saw the ultimate test subjects. In fact, Elizabeth quoted Mengele as enthusiastically declaring: ‘Now I will have work for the next twenty years; now science will have an interesting subject to consider.’

At Auschwitz Elizabeth and her family were segregated and subjected to all manner of frenetic experimentation. As Elizabeth would write:

‘The most frightful experiments of all were the gynaecological experiments. They tied us to the table and the systematic torture began. They injected things into our uterus, extracted blood, dug into us, pierced us and removed samples. It is impossible to put into words the intolerable pain that we suffered, which continued for many days after the experiments ceased.’

The gynaecological experimentation was so severe that even the doctors assisting the procedures eventually refused to continue out of pity, whilst citing the very real possibility that the family would not be able to survive further invasive procedure. Mengele relented as he did not want to risk the lives of his favourite lab rats. Instead, he concocted and implemented new sadistic experiments.

‘They extracted fluid from our spinal. The hair extraction began again and when we were ready to collapse, they began painful tests on the brain, nose, mouth, and hand region. All stages were fully documented with illustrations. It may be noted, ironically, that we were among the only ones in the world whose torture was premeditated and ‘scientifically’ documented for the sake of future generations.”

In addition, Mengele’s physicians also painfully extracted bone marrow and pulled out teeth to find signs of hereditary disease and blinded members of the family with chemical drops.

Not content to keep his prized subject hidden within the confines of his laboratory, Mengele displayed the Ovitz family, striped nude, to groups of senior Nazis while lecturing on their inferior genetics.

He also created a film for Adolf Hitler’s amusement staring the Ovitz family. The Ovitz family sang German songs when ordered to do so out of terror. Shortly before the request they had witnessed two newcomer dwarfs being killed and boiled so their bones could be exhibited in a Nazi museum.

All told, the Ovitz family endured seven month under the torturous hand of Mengele.

Auschwitz was liberated on January 27, 1945. Elizabeth and her family were rescued by Soviet troops from what was likely certain death. Just two days previous to the liberation, Mengele approached Elizabeth with a collection of glass eyes and attempted to match her shade.

During the following four years the family toured the wreckage of Eastern and Central Europe. They choreographed and performed a new routine in remembrance of their experience. Each night Elizabeth, partnered by one of her brothers, would dance the part of Life to his Death in what they called the Totentanz.

In 1949 the family emigrated to Israel and Elizabeth died in Haifa in 1992.

Josef Mengele was never captured or tried for his crimes. He died on a beach in Brazil in 1979.

Dr. Adolf Pokorny

In the sterilization experiments, Reich Leader SS Heinrich Himmler had made his objective clear, he was interested in the development of a cheap and more efficient (rapid) method of sterilization that could be used against the enemies of Germany en masse; in other words, "not only to defeat the enemy but also to exterminate him."

Defendant Dr. Adolf Pokorny had notified Himmler of a newly synthesized drug from the caladium plant that, when administered orally or injected, produced sterility in the animals tested. In a letter dated in October, 1941, Pokorny wrote to Himmler, "If on the basis of this research, it were possible to produce a drug, which after a relatively short time effects an imperceptible sterilization on human beings, then we would have a new powerful weapon at our disposal."

At a conference held on July 7-8, 1942, Himmler announced that prisoners from the Auschwitz concentration camp would be used as experimental subjects to test methods of sterilization without their knowledge.

Pokorny’s earlier statement proves that, he not only had total knowledge of the intended usage of the experiments, but that he supported its conduct. This, demonstrates that Pokorny is guilty of violating his commitment to the Hippocratic Oath. Pokorny knew that the methodology he was suggesting was a direct and serious violation of the patients’ rights; not only were they to be sterilized without their consent, but in complete ignorance.

Up to this point I have illustrated how Pokorny can be seen as a perpetrator. However, the active ingredient, the caladium plant, needed for the sterilization injections was grown only in North America, thus the production rate would be too slow to satisfy Himmler’s request, which I would argue is the primary reason that Pokorny was not convicted.

Although Pokorny’s method did not become the principal form of sterilization, there are records that Dr. Clauberg, used it to sterilize several thousand women in Auschwitz. Clauberg reported on June 7, 1943 that it was possible to sterilize several hundred to a thousand people per day. He went on to say that such sterilization could be, "performed by a single injection made from the entrance of the uterus in the course of the usual customary gynecological examination."

For whatever reason, Clauberg was not part of the trial I have simply incorporated this as evidence that although Pokorny was not convicted, his methods of sterilization were in fact used and considered to a significant degree.

These numbers in comparison to the numbers of victims of what would become the primary method of conduct for sterilization (not yet discussed) may have appeared to be insignificant in the court room. However, we cannot morally ignore the fact that still thousands of lives were affected as a result of Pokorny’s research. In his final statement of the trial, Pokorny said:

With this hope I am looking forward to your judgment, and in that connection I am thinking of my children who, for years now, have lived under the protection of an allied power, and who will not believe that their father, after everything that he has suffered, could possibly have acted as an enemy to human rights.

One has to wonder what effect supplying such a drug to Himmler would have had on the fate of thousands of victims of forced sterilization, had Pokorny successfully synthesized such a drug.


Dr. Viktor Brack

Defendant Viktor Brack had a similar exchange with Himmler regarding sterilization. Brack estimated that with only 20 x-ray devices (low cost of machinery), three to four thousand individuals could be sterilized daily, thus suggesting that a new method of sterilization be implemented.

This technique satisfied Himmler’s request for a rapid and inexpensive procedure. Experiments were carried out on no fewer than one hundred inmates in Auschwitz who received damaging levels of radiation to the genital area causing severe burns and preventing them from working, for which they were sent to their deaths.

Once these experiments proved that radiation was a permanent method of sterilization by destroying the secretions of the ovary and of the testicles, Brack wrote other letters to Himmler that not only demonstrated his knowledge of the effects of the procedure being loss of menstruation in the females, climacteric phenomena, and alterations in capillary growth and metabolism, but he also relayed a personal opinion that read:

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…Heil Hitler! Yours, Viktor Brack.

These are not the words of a person who acts out of benevolence for humankind. In his trial, Brack denied allegations under the premise that he felt "obliged" not only to comply but to encourage experiments in order to protect himself, "I pretended to be willing to clarify the question of mass sterilization through x-ray methods."

It may be one thing to obey orders, but it must be considered entirely different once a person goes beyond diabolical directives and "does worse" to others than he has to which Brack did by not only exploiting his findings to Himmler, but by encouraging their usage toward harming innocent people as well.

On June 23, 1942, Brack reportedly suggested to Himmler that Jews able to work could be sterilized while others unable to work were exterminated. This would mean that only the young and healthy inmates would be selected for forced sterilization, a violation of the Hippocratic Oath in several ways, a primary one being, neither to give a deadly drug to anybody even if they asked for it, nor make suggestions to this effect, which Brack had done.

Himmler responded to Brack’s appraisal on August 11, 1942, implying that Brack’s method of x-ray sterilization should be tested on concentration camp inmates by expert physicians. Brack created a method of sterilization that had the capacity to sterilize as many as three to four thousand people per day. He was convicted and sentenced to death. These are the words of his final statement;

For all those years I had no reason to have any misgivings with regard to Hitler’s personality. Therefore, I also believed in the legality of the euthanasia decree as it emanated directly from the head of state. The state officials and doctors, competent for me at that time, told me that euthanasia had always been an endeavor of mankind and was morally as well as medically justified. Therefore, I never doubted the legal character of the euthanasia decree.

This plea of being an innocent subordinate of the true perpetrators was a common theme of many of the Nazi doctors’ testimonies. Many of the defenses throughout the Nuremberg Trials included this argument that the criminal acts against humanity were carried out strictly by order. But as medical expert Dr. Andrew C. Ivy would say in his testimony,

"There is no state or no politician under the sun that could force me to perform a medical experiment which I thought was morally unjustified." With an atrocity as significant as the Holocaust with millions of victims, there are various levels of perpetrators who contributed to the violation of human rights.

It is clear that both Pokorny and Brack on some level contributed to the persecution of victims of the Holocaust, but only Brack was held accountable. In this case, the level of damage that each method of sterilization carried determined the accountability to which the two men were held liable.

Therefore I have concluded that it is far too difficult to determine responsibility and we often are left with bringing only the worse of two evils to justice as demonstrated by the particular trial of Porkorny and Brack.

Human Organs

Six weeks after Americans liberated Buchenwald in April 1945, a guide shows an American soldier human organs the Nazis removed from prisoners

Eugen Fischer

Eugen Fischer, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Eugenics, and Human Heredity from 1927 to 1942, taught courses for SS doctors, served as a judge on Berlin’s Hereditary Health Court, and provided hundreds of opinions on the paternity and “racial purity” of individuals.

The table slab was cold and hard beneath 6-year-old Irene Hizme as doctors and nurses took measurements and blood samples. She didn’t know what was happening to her, and by the time it was all over, she wouldn’t care. She was found lying nearly comatose on the ground by a woman who brought her home to begin her recovery.

Though it’s routine for children to be examined by physicians, that was hardly the case here. Her doctor was Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi who conducted cruel experiments on inmates at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

Hizme, who survived both her imprisonment and Mengele’s experiments, told her story to a rapt audience at Harvard Medical School’s Joseph Martin Conference Center in the New Research Building on April 14. Hizme was participating in a program to kick off the opening of an exhibit at Harvard Medical School’s Countway Library of Medicine“Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race.”

The exhibit, created by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in collaboration with a long list of institutional sponsors, addresses physicians’ roles in the evolution of what became the Holocaust through the early decades of the 1900s to the horror of its full execution during World War II.

The exhibit presents an eye-opening look at some of the lesser-known programs — many of which involved physicians — that established the Nazi philosophy of racial improvement and then implemented it through the 1930s.

These programs began in 1933 with forced sterilization of the blind, deaf, alcoholics, physically deformed, and other groups judged inferior. In 1939, the murders began of thousands of children born with deformities, moving on to the killings of hundreds of thousands of adults institutionalized for mental illness and other causes. That program saw the development and use of gas chambers, later employed against Europe’s Jews and other groups in Nazi death camps.

When Hizme, who was born in Prague, arrived at Auschwitz, she remembered the stifling, stinking conditions in the cattle car she and others rode and how relieved everyone was when the doors opened at their destination and let in fresh air. The relief for the 6-year-old and others didn’t last long, as they were rousted from the car and sorted, a duty carried out by doctors, with some prisoners going to the camp and others to the gas chambers.

Because Mengele had an interest in twins for his heredity experiments, she and her brother were kept alive. She believes that she was experimented on while her brother was used as a control. She recalled X-rays and many injections whose contents she still doesn’t know, and of being sick in the camp hospital many times. During one of those times, all the patients were gassed, while she was saved by a nurse who hid her under her skirt.

“I was young, so I really did not understand what was going on,” Hizme said.

Julie Hock, New England regional director of the U.S. Holocaust Museum, said the organization has had many exhibits over the years, but this is the first that begins to answer the question on people’s minds as they try to grasp the enormity of what happened: How was this humanly possible?

Susan Bachrach, the exhibit’s curator, and Boston University ProfessorMichael Grodin, who has written about Holocaust doctors, laid out how the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel’s genetics experiments led to the growth of the global eugenics movement in the early 1900s. Eugenics organizations, seeking human perfection, were active in many countries, including Germany and the United States. In America, many states had forced-sterilization programs, backed by the Supreme Court, which in 1927 upheld Virginia’s such program for the “feebleminded.”

Grodin said physicians played not just a bit part, but a central role in both the eugenics philosophy and in its eventual translation into Nazi programs to “disinfect” society. Doctors had a much greater representation in the Nazi Party than average Germans and played key roles throughout.

“Physicians were not victims; they were perpetrators,” Grodin said. “Nothing was inevitable; choices were made.”

In his research, Grodin sought to determine why physicians who pledge to improve human life wound up joining with the Nazis instead. He said there were some traits that might explain some physician participation — such as a willingness to dehumanize patients, an ability to compartmentalize their own lives, and a feeling of omnipotence — but added there was no way of predicting who would wind up embracing Nazi activities, just as there was no way of predicting who would wind up protecting the persecuted, risking their own lives.

Grodin cautioned against thinking that the Holocaust was an isolated event, and exhibit organizers said the displays are intended to provide food for thought for some of today’s ethical questions. After all, Grodin said, black soldiers who liberated the prison camps were fighting in segregated companies, interracial marriage was outlawed in many states, and medical experiments in the United States have been repeatedly carried out against unwilling participants.

Grodin cited the Willowbrook experiments, in which hepatitis was given to mentally retarded children in New York for 14 years in the 1950s and 1960s, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, carried out on unsuspecting black men between 1932 and 1972, and the injection of patients at the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital with live cancer cells in 1962.

Grodin said the Holocaust reached the scale it did because it was state-sponsored instead of just supported by individuals. Still, he said, it is instructive to understand the smaller steps that ultimately led to the Nazi death camps.

“I think we have to be very concerned when we take small steps,” Grodin said.

Eugen Fischer

Eugen Fischer reading Heredity Journal. Fischer, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Eugenics, and Human Heredity from 1927 to 1942, authored a 1913 study of the racially mixed children of Dutch men and Hottentot women in German southwest Africa.

Fischer opposed “racial mixing,” arguing that “Negro blood” was of “lesser value” and that mixing it with “white blood” would bring about the demise of European culture. After 1933, Fischer adapted his institute’s activities to serve Nazi anti-Semitic policies.

He taught courses for SS doctors, served as a judge on Berlin’s Hereditary Health Court, and provided hundreds of opinions on the paternity and “racial purity” of individuals, including the Mischlinge offspring of Jewish and non-Jewish German couples. Credit: Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin-Dahlem


Bullenhuser Damm School

In November 1944 20 Jewish children, ten boys and ten girls, had been brought from Auschwitz to the concentration camp of Neuengamme, just outside Hamburg. The youngsters, aged between 5 and 12 years old, came from all over Europe. Plucked from their homes the children had witnessed the murder of parents, siblings, and relatives. They faced starvation, illness, brutal labor and other indignities until they were consigned to the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

Now they were to be human guinea-pigs in a series of medical experiments conducted by the SS doctor Kurt Heissmeyer. Dr. Heissmeyer removed the children's lymph glands for analysis, and he injected living tuberculosis bacteria in their veins and directly into their lungs to determine if they had any natural immunities to tuberculosis.They were carefully observed, examined and photographed as the disease progressed. The condition of all the children deteriorated very rapidly and they became extremely ill. 

On April 20th, 1945, the day on which Adolf Hitler was celebrating his fifty-sixth birthday and just a few days before the war ended, Heissmeyer and SS-Obersturmführer Arnold Strippel decided to kill the children in an effort to hide evidence of the experiments from the approaching Allied forces.


Bullenhuser Damm School


To conceal all traces the SS transported the children to the former Bullenhuser Damm School, which had been used as a satellite camp since October 1944. They were immediately taken to the basement and ordered to undress.

An SS officer later reported: "They sat down on the benches all around and were cheerful and happy that they had been for once allowed out of Neuengamme. The children were completely unsuspecting." 

The children were told that they had to be vaccinated against typhoid fever before their return journey. Then they were injected with morphine. They were hanged from hooks on the wall, but the SS men found it difficult to kill the mutilated children. The first child to be strung up was so light - due to disease and malnutrition - that the rope wouldn’t strangle him. SS untersturmführer Frahm had to use all of his own weight to tighten the noose. Then he hanged the others, two at a time, from different hooks. 'Just like pictures on the wall', he would recall later. He added that none of the children had cried.

At five o' clock in the morning on April 21th, 1945, the Nazis had finished with their work and drank hard-earned coffee ...

Jacqueline, 12

 One of the children was JJacqueline Morgenstern, born to Suzanne and Karl Morgenstern in 1932 in Paris, France. Here Jacqueline led a happy life, she attended school and her father and uncle owned a beauty shop in central Paris.

After hert to a special children's barrack where the children were being held for later bogus medicaGeorges Andre Kohn, spoke French, too, and they  became close friends.

TGeorges Andre Kohn was 12 years old and the youngest son of Armand Kohn, a rich Jewish businessman in Paris. In 1944 Georges, his grandmother (75), mother, father, his older sisters, Rose-Marie and Antoinette, and his eighteen year-old brother, Philippe, were crowded into cattle cars with hundreds of Jews to be deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp. oThree days after the train began moving, Rose-Marie and Philippe broke the bars of the car's small window, jumped out and miraculously survived the Holocaust. When the train arrived at Buchenwald, the family was separated. When the war was over, only Armand Kohn and the two escaped had survived.

And on April 20th, 1945, when the British were less than three miles from the camp, all the children of Bullenhuser Damm were murdered ..wever, when in 1940, Germany invaded France and the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror. In 1944 Jacqueline andAfter the war, the SS doctor Kurt Heissmeyer returned to his home in Magdeburg, postwar East Germany, to resume medical practice, highly regarded as a lung and tuberculosis specialist. The much-admired physician was eventually tried and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1966.

Arnold Strippel, the SS-Obersturmführer commanding these killings as well as many others, lived for years well in West Germany in a villa situated on the outskirts of Frankfurt despite all efforts made by relatives of the children to take him to trial. 

Jacqueline and her mother went to the women's work camp, where food rations were meager. Suzanne gave Jacqueline most of her food, so she became malnourished and ill. When the Nazis found her no longer useful for forced labor, they sent her to the gas chambers.


The family's feelings of security collapsed, however, when in 1940, Germany invaded France and the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror. In 1944 Jacqueline and her parents were sent to Auschwitz. Jacqueline and her mother went to the women's work camp, where food rations were meager. Suzanne gave Jacqueline most of her food, so she became malnourished and ill. When the Nazis found her no longer useful for forced labor, they sent her to the gas chambers.ever, when in 1940, Germany invaded France and the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror. In 1944 Jacqueline and her parents were sent to Auschwitz. Jacqueline and her mother went to the women's work camp, where food rations were meager. Suzanne gave Jacqueline most of her food, so she became malnourished and ill. When the Nazis found her no longer useful for forced labor, they sent her to the gas chamcqueline Morgenstern, born to Suzanne and Karl Morgenstern in 1932 in Paris, France. Here Jacqueline led a happy life, she attended school and her father and uncle owned a beauty shop in central Paris.

The family's feelings of security collapsed, however, when in 1940, Germany invaded France and the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror. In 1944 Jacqueline and her parents were sent to Auschwitz. Jacqueline and her mother went to the women's work camp, where food rations were meager. Suzanne gave Jacqueline most of her food, so she became malnourished and ill. When the Nazis found her no longer useful for forced labor, they sent her to the gas chambers.



  • November 1944

Hans-Joachim Sewering

A former SS doctor accused of sending 900 sick children to their deaths under the Nazi euthanasia programme has been awarded a German medical association's highest honour.

The decision comes as Jewish organisations continue to press Germany to put 92-year-old Hans-Joachim Sewering on trial for mass murder.

He was given the Guenther-Budelmann medal by the German Federation of Internal Medicine for "unequalled services in the cause of freedom of the practice and the independence of the medical profession and to the nation's health system".

Sewering was a doctor at a tuberculosis clinic near Munich before World War II. 

He allegedly signed orders sending 900 German Catholic children from the clinic to a "healing centre".

In fact, it was a killing centre carrying out a secret Nazi policy of murdering the handicapped who were declared "useless eaters" by the Nazis before the war.

Many of the Nazi participants in the programme went on to become death camp commandants and high-ranking officials of the Holocaust.

Four nuns who broke their vow of silence on the recommendation of the Archbishop of Munich in 1993 claim to have witnessed Sewering ordering the transfer of the children and signing documents to that effect.

The U.S. Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and an independent committee seeking Sewering's prosecution claim he was an enthusiastic supporter of the euthanasia programme.

He has admitted to membership of the SS, an elite Nazi group, claiming he joined for "social reasons", but has always denied being responsible for euthanasia.

Sewering, former head of the German doctors' association, was designated in 1992 as chairman of the World Medical Association but had to withdraw the following year under international pressure because of the accusations against him.

Wolfgang Wesiack, president of the German Federation of Internal Medicine, said Sewering was honoured because "he deserved it". 

He refused to talk about the Nazi allegations.

The case illustrates Germany's reluctance to pursue alleged Nazi war criminals. 

Despite a flurry of trials after the war and a few in the early 1950s, Germany largely forgot about former Nazis, many of whom thrived in politics, the judiciary and the police.

A spokesman for the Committee to Bring Dr Hans-Joachim Sewering to Justice said he "symbolises the lingering legacy of Nazi medicine and the failure of a large part of the German medical community to take responsibility for their acts in the Third Reich".

Read more:

Mind Control

By Harry V. Martin and David Caul At the conclusion of World War Two, American investigators learned that Nazi doctors at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany had been conducting mind control experiments on inmates. They experi- mented with hypnosis and with the drug mescaline. Mescaline is a quasi-synthetic extract of the peyote cactus, and is very similar to LSD in the hallucinations which it produces. Though they did not achieve the degree of success they had desired, the SS interrogators in conjunction with the Dachau doctors were able to extract the most intimate secrets from the prisoners when the inmates were given very high doses of mescaline. There were fatal mind control experiments conducted at Auschwitz. The experiments there were described by one informant as "brainwashing with chemicals". The informant said the Gestapo wasn't satisfied with extracting information by torture. "So the next question was, why don't we do it like the Russians, who have been able to get confessions of guilt at their show trials?" They tried various barbiturates and morphine derivatives. After prisoners were fed a coffee-like substance, two of them died in the night and others died later. The Dachau mescaline experiments were written up in a lengthy report issued by the U.S. Naval Technical Mission, whose job it was at the conclusion of the war to scour all of Europe for every shred of industrial and scientific material that had been produced by the Third Reich. It was as a result of this report that the U.S. Navy became interested in mescaline as an interrogation tool. The Navy initiated Project Chatter in 1947, the same year the Central Intelligence Agency was formed. The Chatter format included developing methods for acquiring information from people against their will, but without inflicting harm or pain. At the conclusion of the war, the OSS was designated as the investigative unit for the International Military Tribunal, which was to become known as the Nuremberg Trials. The purpose of Nuremberg was to try the principal Nazi leaders.  Some Nazis were on trial for their experiments, and the U.S. was using its own "truth drugs" on these principal Nazi prisoners, namely Goring, Ribbentrop, Speer and eight others. The Justice in charge of the tribunal had given the OSS permission to use the drugs.

Dr. Katzen-Ellenbogen

The "Little Camp"-the isolation and quarantine section of Buchenwald. Block 57. One morning in late May 1944.

Three-tiered geometric wooden boxes lined the barrack. Each shelf housed as many as sixteen emaciated humans. A thirsty and exhausted Frenchman named Oliv struggled to climb down from the top for his day's work. But he was too weak. As Oliv lay limp, a fat, well-fed inmate doctor walked in.

The other French prisoners pleaded with the doctor that Oliv was too ill to work and suffered from severe rheumatism. He needed medical attention. A small infirmary, stocked with medicines and called "the hospital," had been established in the Little Camp. The doctor controlled access to the facility and the drugs. Those admitted to the hospital could be excused from work until nursed back to working strength-and thereby live another day.

But the doctor, himself a prisoner yet reviled as a barbaric stooge of the SS, was known for refusing admission to the hospital except to those he favored--or those who could bribe their way in with relief packets.

Most of all, the doctor hated the French communists. They--and their diseases--were everywhere in the Little Camp. The doctor believed that each inferior national group was a carrier of its own specific set of diseases.

Frenchmen, he thought, brought in diphtheria and related throat diseases as well as scarlet fever. Simply put, the Little Camp doctor was unwilling to use his limited hospital to lessen the prisoners' loads, extend their lives or relieve their suffering. The prisoners' job was to work. His job was to ensure they kept working--until they could work no more.

Furious and impatient, the Little Camp doctor pushed the others out of the way, stepped onto the lowest of the three tiers, reached up and grabbed Oliv's foot as it dangled over the edge. He then yanked Oliv over the short sideboard and down the eight feet to the floor. Oliv tumbled to the floor like a doll, cracking his skull.

Blood soaked down the back of his shirt. As the life seeped out of Oliv, his comrades hauled him onto the lowest bunk, and then hurried out to their backbreaking labors at the quarry. When they came back to Block 57 that night, Oliv was dead. Next to the bathroom was a makeshift morgue; they moved his body there. Later, Oliv's body waited its turn at the crematorium.


The French inmates of the Little Camp never forgot the brutality the doctor showed them, while exhibiting seemingly incongruous medical compassion to others.

They never forgot that while most of them were worked and starved into skeletons, the doctor ate well. Many prisoners lost 40 percent of their weight shortly after arriving in the Little Camp. But the doctor arrived at Buchenwald fat and stayed fat.

No one could understand how a talented physician could render his skills so effectively to some, while allowing others to die horrible deaths. After Buchenwald was liberated in April of 1945, the stories about Dr. Edwin Katzen-Ellenbogen emerged. He was accused of murdering a thousand prisoners by injection.


The United States military conducted war crimes trials at Dachau for a variety of lesser-known concentration camp Nazis and their inmate collaborators, especially the medical killers. Katzen-Ellenbogen was among them, and was found guilty of war crimes, right along with the other so-called "butchers of Buchenwald."

He was sentenced to a long term in prison. The court finding, however, was not an easy one. It was complicated by conflicting stories of Katzen-Ellenbogen's outstanding academic background and prewar record.

Many found Dr. Katzen-Ellenbogen and the many lives he led incomprehensible. How could he alternately function as a gifted psychiatrist and as a murderous man of medicine? At the time, none understood that Katzen-Ellenbogen viewed humanity with multiple standards.

He was an American eugenicist. Nor was he just any eugenicist. Katzen-Ellenbogen was a founding member of the prestigious but pro-Nazi Eugenics Research Association headquartered at the Carnegie Institution and the chief eugenicist of New Jersey under then-Governor Woodrow Wilson.

Katzen-Ellenbogen was a classic eugenicist. Viewing humanity through a eugenic prism, he was capable of exhibiting great compassion toward those he saw as superior, and great cruelty toward those he considered genetically unfit. In Buchenwald, the French, with their Mediterranean and African mixtures, were eugenically among the lowest, not really worthy of life. At the same time, in Katzen-Ellenbogen's view, those of Nordic or Aryan descent were treasured--to be helped and even saved.


  • 1944

Johann Paul Kremer, M.D., Ph.D

SS-Obersturmführer Johann Paul Kremer, M.D., Ph.D., professor at the University of Münster, arrived at Auschwitz on August 30, 1942, where he replaced a doctor who had fallen sick. He carried out assessments of prisoners attempting to gain admission to the hospital. 

Kremer ordered most of them killed by phenol injection. He selected prisoners who struck him as particularly good experimental material, and questioned them just before their deaths, as they lay on the autopsy table awaiting injection, about such personal details as their weight before arrest and any medicines they had used recently. In some cases, he ordered these prisoners photographed.

He witnessed gassings in Auschwitz and wrote about them in his diary:

September 2, 1942
For the first time, at 3:00 A.M. outside, attended a special action. Dante's Inferno seems to me almost a comedy compared to this. They don't call Auschwitz the camp of annihilation for nothing!

September 5, 1942
In the morning attended a special action from the women's concentration camp (Muslims); the most dreadful of horrors.Master-Sergeant Thilo (troop doctor) was right when he said to me that this is the anus mundi. In the evening towards 8:00 attended another special action from Holland. Because of the special rations they get a fifth of a liter of schnapps, 5 cigarettes, 100 g salami and bread, the men all clamor to take part in such actions. Today and tomorrow (Sunday) work.

After the war, Johann Paul Kremer testified about his diary. An extract is found in "The Good Old Days": The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders, Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, and Volker Riess, Eds., 1991, p. 258:

Particularly unpleasant was the gassing of the emaciated women from the women's camp, who were generally known as 'Muslims'. I remember I once took part in the gassing of one of these groups of women. I cannot say how big the group was.

When I got close to the bunker [I saw] them sitting on the ground. They were still clothed. As they were wearing worn-out camp clothing they were not left in the undressing hut but made to undress in the open air.

I concluded from the behavior of these women that they had no doubt what fate awaited them, as they begged and pleaded to the SS men to spare them their lives. However, they were herded into the gas chambers and gassed.

As an anatomist I have seen a lot of terrible things: I had had a lot of experience with dead bodies, and yet what I saw that day was like nothing I had ever seen before. Still completely shocked by what I had seen I wrote in my diary on 5 September 1942: 'The most dreadful of horrors. Hauptscharführer Thilo was right when he said to me today that this is the anus mundi', the anal orifice of the world.

I used this image because I could not imagine anything more disgusting and horrific.

SS-Doctor Kremer at a hearing on 18 July 1947 in Cracow

Miklos Nyiszli

A Jew and a medical doctor, the Auschwitz prisoner Miklos Nyiszli - No. A8450 - was spared death for a grimmer fate: to perform autopsies and 'scientific research' on his fellow inmates at Auschwitz under the supervision of Dr. Josef Mengele, the chief provider for the gas chambers.

Miraculously, Nyiszli survived to give an horrifying and sobering account, one of the first books to bring the full horror of the Nazi death camps to the public - Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account.You find this account pp. 114-120:

"In number one's crematorium's gas chamber 3,000 dead bodies were piled up. The Sonderkommando had already begun to untangle the lattice of flesh. The noise of the elevators and the sound of their clanging doors reached my room. The work moved ahead double-time. The gas chambers had to be cleared, for the arrival of a new convoy had been announced.

The chief of the gas chamber kommando almost tore the hinges off the door to my room as he arrived out of breath, his eyes wide with fear or surprise.

he said, "come quickly. We just found a girl alive at the bottom of a pile of corpses."

I grabbed my instrument case, which was always ready, and dashed to the gas chamber. Against the wall, near the entrance to the immense room, half covered with other bodies, I saw a girl in the throes of a death rattle, her body seized with convulsions. The gas kommando men around me were in a state of panic. Nothing like this had ever happened in the course of their horrible career.

We moved the still-living body from the corpses pressing against it. I gathered the tiny adolescent body into my arms and carried it back to the room adjoining the gas chamber, where normally the gas kommando men change clothes for work. I laid the body on a bench. A frail young girl, almost a child, she could have been no more than fifteen. I took out my syringe and, taking her arm - she had not yet recovered consciousness and was breathing with difficulty - I administered three intravenous injections.

My companions covered her body which was as cold as ice with a heavy overcoat. One ran to the kitchen to fetch some tea and warm broth. Everybody wanted to help as if she were his own child. The reaction was swift. The child was seized by a fit of coughing which brought up a thick globule of phlegm from her lungs. She opened her eyes and looked fixedly at the ceiling. I kept a close watch for every sign of life. Her breathing became deeper and more and more regular. Her lungs, tortured by the gas, inhaled the fresh air avidly. Her pulse became perceptible, the result of the injections.

I waited impatiently. I saw that within a few minutes she was going to regain consciousness: her circulation began to bring color back into her cheeks, and her delicate face became human again .. I made a sign for my companions to withdraw. I was going to attempt something I knew without saying was doomed to failure.

From our numerous contacts, I had been able to ascertain that Mussfeld had a high esteem for the medical expert's professional qualities. He knew that my superior was Dr. Mengele, the KZ's most dreaded figure, who, goaded by racial pride, took himself to be one of the most important representatives of German medical science. He considered the dispatch of hundreds of thousands of Jews to the gas chambers as a patriotic duty. The work carried out in the dissecting room was for the furtherance of German medical science ...

And this was the man I had to deal with, the man I had to talk into allowing a single life to be spared. I calmly related the terrible case we found ourselves confronted with. I described for his benefit what pains the child must have suffered in the undressing room, and the horrible scenes that preceded death in the gas chamber. When the room had been plunged into darkness, she had breathed in a few lungfuls of cyclon gas. Only a few, though, for her fragile body had given way under the pushing and shoving of the mass as they fought against death. By chance she had fallen with her face against the wet concrete floor. That bit of humidity had kept her from being asphyxiated, for cyclon gas does not react under humid conditions.

These were my arguments, and I asked him to do something for the child. He listened to me attentively then asked me exactly what I proposed doing. I saw by his expression that I had put him face to face with a practically impossible problem.

It was obvious that the child could not remain in the crematorium. One solution would have been to put her in front of the crematorium gate. A kommando of women always worked there. She could have slipped back to the camp barracks after they had finished work. She would never relate what had happened to her. The presence of one new face among so many thousands would never be detected, for no one in the camp knew all the other inmates. If she had been three or four years older that might have worked. A girl of twenty would have been able to understand clearly the miraculous circumstances of her survival, and have enough foresight not to tell anyone about them. She would wait for better times, like so many other thousands were waiting, to recount what she had lived through.

But Mussfeld thought that a young girl of sixteen would in all nai 'vete' tell the first person she had met where she had just come from, what she had seen and what she had lived through. The news would spread like wildfire, and we would all be forced to pay for it with our lives. "There's no way of getting round it," he said, "the child will have to die." Half an hour later the young girl was led, or rather carried, into the furnace room hallway, and there Mussfeld sent another in his place to do the job. A bullet in the back of the neck."

Agnes Zsolt

Agnes Zsolt was rescued from Bergen-Belsen by Allied troops in 1945. She desperately searched for her daughter Eva Heyman who had been arrested and deported to the death camp Auschwitz on June 2, 1944. 

Agnes Zsolt gradually realized that her daughter had been killed. She later told how Eva was sent to the gas chambers by Josef Mengele at Auschwitz:

"A good-hearted female doctor was trying to hide my child, but Mengele found her without effort. Eva's feet were full of sore wounds. 'Now look at you', Mengele shouted, 'you frog, your feet are foul, reeking with pus! Up with you on the truck!' He transported his human material to the crematorium on yellow-colored trucks. Eyewitnesses told me that he himself had pushed her on to the truck."

Eva Heyman, thirteen-years-old, was gassed that same day, on October 17, 1944 ..

After arranging for her daughter's diary to be published, Eva's grief-stricken mother Agnes Zsolt succumbed to a downward spiral of self-destructiveness and despair and committed suicide.

Marc Berkowitz

Marc Berkowitz and his twin sister Francesca were two of Mengele’s victims. Arriving at Auschwitz from Czechoslovakia in March 1944 with their mother, 12-year-old Marc and his twin sister, Francesca, were singled out by Mengele for medical experimentation:

"Before the experiments began, Mengele came and tattooed my number personally. They put us in freezing baths, smeared chemicals on our skin, but it was the needles we were most afraid of. After the first 150 injections I stopped counting ... One morning in July 1944 I spotted my mother among a long line of women moving toward the gas chamber. Mengele called me in and gave me an errand to the crematorium. He knew I would see my mother go to her death. A couple of days later he asked me if I still believed in God."
Years later, Marc Berkowitz still suffered from pains due to the injections.

  • 1944

Isabella Leitner

When the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, Isabella Leitner and her family were herded in a ghetto and finally sent to Auschwitz where her mother and baby sister were gassed immediately. Isabella, the author of several books about the Holocaust, was exposed to horrors that words cannot describe, tortured, used. She later remembered the arrival at Auschwitz:

"I packed for my journey to Auschwitz on May 28, 1944 - my 20th birthday. As we alighted from the cattle car - my mother, my brother and my four sisters - there was Mengele, looking magnificent with his dog, his pistol, his riding crop. He sent my mother to the crematorium immediately. She was too old to live. And my youngest sister, Potyo, she was too young for him at 13 ...  Mengele was as smooth, as civilized, as elegant as you can imagine, good-looking even. You would never suspect the evil. He was the genius of death. I have a sort of revenge. It would kill Mengele to see that I gave birth to two of the most magnificent, beautiful, intelligent children ... "
Isabella Leitner survived - not as a destroyed soul, not as a person utterly crushed by suffering, but as a wonderful, open woman with pure delight in life.

Irene Hizme & Rene Slotkin

Irene Hizme and her twin brother, Rene Slotkin, were born in Czechoslovakia and were only four years old when they were taken with their mother to Theresienstadt. Shortly afterward, they were sent to Auschwitz, where they were separated. They never saw their mother again. They survived for almost three years in Auschwitz where they were experimented on by Josef Mengele as part of his twins research. Irene later recalled:

"I remember the first time I saw Mengele he was wearing green, dark green. And I remember his boots. That was probably the level my eyes were. Black, shiny boots. He was asking for  twins, twins  ..."

"The first time we went to the infirmary, he took blood. It was very painful ... They gave me injections in the arm and the back, and X-rays. I'd be extremely sick for a while."

After the war, Irene was adopted by a family on Long Island and spent several years tracking down Rene, who was still in Europe. In 1950, the family was finally able to bring him to the United States and reunite the twins. And both got married with children.

Frank Klein

Frank Klein was interned at Auschwitz-Birkenau for seven months. He later recalled how he and his family arrived at the Auschwitz railhead:

"The first time I saw Mengele was the day I arrived at the camp with my twin brother, Otto, my mother, my aunt and my sister. One of the men on the train platform asked my mother if Otto and I were twins. When my mother said, "Yes," he said, "I'll be right back." A few minutes later, he took us to Mengele. For the next hour we watched the selection process. My mother was sent to the gas chamber, and so was my aunt.
My brother and I survived and I've had a nightmare ever since the camp. I dream that Mengele is taking my brother away to kill him ..."

Ernest Michel

At 19, in March 1943, Ernest Michel arrived in Auschwitz after five days and four nights in cattle cars. He was born in Mannheim, Germany, in 1923 to a Jewish family which had been living in Germany for over 300 years. He was arrested on September 3, 1939, three days after the outbreak of World War II, and spent the next five-and-one-half years in slave labor and concentration camps.

Ernest Michel, Auschwitz number 104995, worked as an orderly in the Auschwitz infirmary and later recalled Mengele:
"One day in the summer of 1944 we took eight women, mostly young and all healthy, into the room where the experiments would take place. I saw Mengele standing there in his uniform, surrounded by three or four others. As we brought in each girl, an officer would strap her down. After a while the screaming inside stopped. When we took them out two of the eight were dead, five were in a coma, one was still strapped to the cot. Mengele was standing there, discussing it very casually. The only word I could hear was 'experiment'."
Ernest Michel's parents, grandmother, uncles, aunts, cousins were all murdered by the Nazis, gassed in Auschwitz. He survived and arrived in the United States in 1946. He was active in the survivor community for many years and served as Chairman of the World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors in Israel in 1981.

  • 1923

Alex Dekel

As surviving Mengele victim Alex Dekel later stated:
"Mengele ran a butcher shop - major surgeries were performed without anesthesia. Once, I witnessed a stomach operation - Mengele was removing pieces from the stomach, but without any anesthetic. Another time, it was a heart that was removed, again, without anesthesia.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 ..."


Medical care

At the end, there wasn' t any medical care in the camp, not even in theory. (Prof. Herbert Thomas Mandl)

Life in the sick bay was hard. The people here were mere living skeletons and suffered from open and infected wounds. Every day, dozens died. (Moshe Prusak)

Krankhajt iz gewen erger wi der tojt. Wer is gewen krank- - iz gewen szojn umnojttik. ... A kranker heftlin iz behandelt geworn erger fun a hunt (Sickness was worse than death. A person who was sick, was therefore useless. A sick prisoner was treated worse than a dog.(Henryk Goldring)

There was almost no treatment with medications. When the camp was still a work camp, the camp doctors asked us to bring back from the construction site the paper from cement sacks. These paper sacks were used to dress wounds. (Dr. Norbert Fried)

We finagled some coal, but we didn' t use it as heating fuel. We ate it because we were told that coal stops diarrhea. (Dr. A. Jehuda Garai)

... in addition everyone had severe diarrhea. I was lucky to invent a medicine for it which was composed of bread, butter, and silver nitrate. (Dr. Istvan Nagel)

Every once in a while, I received a call from the barracks with orders to come to the sick bay in order to pick up freshly arrived medicine for my quarantine section- - once it was five, another time ten tablets of counterfeit aspirin or cardiazol, and this was intended for several days and fifty patients. (Prof. Dr. Viktor E. Frankl)

Our "infirmary" consisted of three barracks buildings that were set to the side. There the misery and the stench were so enormous as if cholera were rampant. (Dr. A. Jehuda Garai)

The sick people were in terrible condition, most of them with wounds full of pus. To help them I cut their hair to the skin, and in doing so, I removed clumps of pus. (Dr. Schmuel Mittelmann)

There was no SS- doctor who offered any help whatsoever in the camp. Nevertheless, operations were performed in the camp and even amputations of legs. The place where this was accomplished was the dirt floor of one of the earth huts. I don' t know whether the patients received any kind of anesthesia - I never had strong enough nerves to watch. (Dr. Norbert Fried)

After Kaufering IV had been declared a "Krankenlager" (camp for the sick) , none of the prisoners were allowed to have clothing. Everyone there was sick and had to lie naked on his wool blanket. (Dr. Norbert Fried)

We were lying naked under lice-infested blankets, and our sides were rubbed raw from the hard boards we were lying on.(Dr. A. Jehuda Garai)

In six to seven days, the boards he was lying on had rubbed his tailbone raw. Even he did not get any straw or his bedding. A huge wound formed at his tailbone, and this man lay in his place, emaciated like a skeleton, helpless, with open wounds that began to spread on his back and were wider than a hand. (Dr. A. Jehuda Garai)

Scabies was a very common affliction in camp Kaufering IV. In normal life this is a childhood illness, but in the concentration camp it was deadly. Scabies spread terribly among the sick prisoners who were forced to lie naked and close together under their blankets. There was no treatment for scabies. Such treatment would have been so useful in the camp - but nothing! (Dr. Norbert Fried)

I especially remember one case. It was the Czech dentist Dr. Georg Sachs. He came from Camp XI. An SS-man had shot him in the stomach. Since they had no surgery instruments whatsoever in Camp XI, six Jewish doctors brought him to our camp. The operation took place around midnight or 1:00 a. m. , and the patient survived. He died later, when every patient with typhoid died. (Dr. Norbert Fried)

Whenever someone got sick, had a finger torn off or something like that, or when someone had a foot that was frozen - they sent him to Camp IV for the sick. There he would die of typhoid. (Dr. Norbert Fried)

As is well known, in the winter and spring of 1945 all prisoners got sick with typhoid. Aside from the high mortality rate among the weakened prisoners who were insufficiently housed, received no medicine and no care, and had to work very hard until the last, typhoid had some very unpleasant side effects: a insuperable distaste for any food (which represented an additional mortal risk) and terrible bouts of delirium. (Prof. Dr. Viktor E. Frankl)

They staggered around with swollen feet and empty eyes until they collapsed, and then their stiff bodies were tossed into the nearby pits. (Zwi Katz)

At night, unconscious skeletons staggered around in the camp like ghosts, slowly as in a haunted castle, and in their unconsciousness, they searched for their relatives and friends who had died long ago. Many of them froze to death, and some of them wanted to join their relatives in the mortuary bunker. They had to be restrained. The sickness was very contagious because we were full of lice. They sucked our blood, and in the process they infected us with the blood of the sick people. (Dr. A. Jehuda Garai)

I got sick (typhoid? ) and was no longer able to work. Together with other sufferers I was quarantined in one of the earth bunkers. After 24 hours, I was assumed to be dead and was thrown on a heap of corpses. This heap of corpses was located at a distance of some 100 yards from the quarantine bunker, and the corpses were burned every morning. Because of the cold, I regained consciousness during the night and recognized where was. I was able to free myself from under the cold corpses and to crawl through the snow back to my own earth bunker.(Elias Godinger)

The number of deaths grew, and a strong person could have lifted one of the corpses with one hand; they were that light. (Dr. A. Jehuda Garai)

During the outbreak of typhoid in Kaufering, we had approximately 25 dead people per day.(Dr. Norbert Fried)

Tog teglech zaijnen gesztorbn 30- 40 und 50 jidn, S' zaijen gestorben alt und jung! (Day after day 30, 40, and 50 Jews died. They died both old and young! (Hendryk Goldring)

Letter from Himmler to General Field Marshal Milch

Letter from Himmler to General Field Marshal Milch 
Concerning Transfer of Dr Rascher to the Waffen-SS, 
13 November 1942


The Reichfuehrer SS
Berlin, SW 11, B. Prinz Albrecht Strasse 8 
Field Command Post

November 1942

Dear Comrade Milch!

You will recall that through General Wolff I particularly recommended to you for your consideration the work of a certain SS Fuehrer, Dr. Rascher, who is a physician of the air force on leave [Arzt des Beurlaubtenstandes der Luftwaffe].

These researches which deal with the behavior of the human organism at great heights, as well as with manifestations caused by prolonged cooling of the human body in cold water, and similar problems which are of vital importance to the air force in particular, can be performed by us with particular efficiency because I personally assumed the responsibility for supplying asocial individuals and criminals who deserve only to die [todeswuerdig] from concentration camps for these experiments.

Unfortunately you had no time recently when Dr. Rascher wanted to report on the experiments at the Ministry for Aviation. I had put great hopes in that report, because I believed that in this way the difficulties, based mainly on religious objections, which oppose Dr. Rascher's experiments-for which I assumed responsibility-could be eliminated.

The difficulties are still the same now as before. In these "Christian medical circles" the standpoint is being taken that it goes without saying that a young German aviator should be allowed to risk his life but that the life of a criminal-who is not drafted into military service-is too sacred for this purpose and one should not stain oneself with this guilt; at the same time it is interesting to note that credit is taken for the results of the experiments while excluding the scientist who performed them. I personally have inspected the experiments, and have-I can say this without exaggeration-participated in every phase of this scientific work in a helpful and inspiring manner.

We two should not get angry about these difficulties. It will take at least another ten years until we can get such narrow-mindedness out of our people. But this should not affect the research work which is necessary for our young and splendid soldiers and aviators.

I beg you to release Dr. Rascher, Stabsarzt in reserve, from the air force and to transfer him to me to the Waffen-SS. I would then assume the sole responsibility for having these experiments made in this field, and would put the results, of which we in the SS need only a part for the frost injuries in the East, entirely at the disposal of the air force. However, in this connection I suggest that with the liaison between you and Wolff a "non-Christian" physician should be charged, who should be at the same time honorable as a scientist and not prone to intellectual theft and who could be informed of the results. This physician should also have good contacts with the administrative authorities, so that the results would really obtain a hearing.

I believe that this solution-to transfer Dr. Rascher to the SS, so that he could carry out the experiments under my responsibility and under my orders-is the best way. The experiments should not be stopped; we owe that to our men. If Dr. Rascher remained with the air force, there would certainly be much annoyance; because then I would have to bring a series of unpleasant details to you, because of the arrogance and assumption which Professor Dr. Holzloehner has displayed in the post of Dachau-who is under my command-about me in utterances delivered to SS Colonel Sievers. In order to save both of us this trouble, I suggest again that Dr. Rascher should be transferred to the Waffen SS as quickly as possible.

I would be grateful to you if you would give the order to put the low pressure chamber at our disposal again, together with step-up pumps, because the experiments should be extended to include even greater altitudes.

Cordial greetings and Heil Hitler!


  • Berlin, SW 11, B. Prinz Albrecht Strasse 8
  • November 1942

Affidavit of Fritz Ernst Fischer


Affidavit of Fritz Ernst Fischer

I, Fritz Ernst Fischer, being first duly sworn according to law, upon my oath do depose and say:

I am a doctor of medicine, having been graduated from the University of Hamburg and passed my State Examination in 1936. On 13 November 1939 I was inducted into the Waffen-SS and after having served with a combat division as medical officer, I was hospitalized and then assigned to the SS Hospital at Hohenlychen, as Assistant Surgeon.

In addition to my normal duties as surgeon at the SS Hospital. at Hohenlychen, on or about 12 July 1942 I was ordered by Professor Gebhardt to begin medical experiments in my capacity as assistant surgeon to Professor Gebhardt. Professor Gebhardt was a Gruppenfuehrer SS, supreme clinical physician on the staff of the Reichsarzt der SS and Polizei [Oberster Kliniker im Stab Reichsarzt SS and Polizei], and was chief of the SS Hospital at Hohenlychen. The purpose of, the proposed experiments was to determine the effectiveness of sulfanilamide, which I was informed at that time was a matter of considerable importance to military medical circles.

According to the information which I received from Professor Gebhardt, these experiments were directed initially by the Reichsfuehrer SS and the Reichsarzt, Dr.Grawitz.

Professor Gebhardt instructed me, before the operations were undertaken, on the techniques to be followed and the methods of procedure to be employed. Although I was informed by Professor Gebhardt that the subjects of the experiments were to be inmates of the concentration camp at Ravensbruck who were sentenced to death, I had nothing to do with the selection of the patients and hence do not know whether all the subjects of the experiments were sentenced to death or what authority made the determination to condemn these persons to death.

The administrative procedure which was followed in obtaining the subjects for the experiments was established by Professor Gebhardt with the camp commandant at Ravensbruck. After the initial arrangements had been made, it was the general practice to inform the medical officer at Ravensbruck as to the date on which a series of experiments was to be begun and the number of patients which would be required, and then he took the matter up with the commandant of the camp, by whom the selections of subjects were made. Before an operation was undertaken, the persons who had been selected in accordance with this procedure, received a medical examination by the camp physician to determine their suitability for the experiments from a medical stand-point.

The first of the series of experiments involved five persons. The gangrenous bacterial cultures for use in the experiments were obtained from the Hygienisches Institute der Waffen SS. The procedure followed in the operations was as follows: the subject received the conventional anaesthetic of morphine atropine, then evipan-ether. An incision was made five to eight centimetres in length and one to one-and-a-half centimetres in depth, on the outside of the lower leg in the area of the peronaeus longus.

The bacterial cultures were put in dextrose, and the resulting mixture was spread into the wound. The wound was then closed and the limb encased in a cast which had been prepared, which was lined on the inside with cotton, so that in the event of swelling of the affected member, the result of the experiment would not be influenced by any factor other than the infection itself.

The bacterial cultures used on each of the five persons varied both as to the type of bacteria used and the amount of culture used.

After the initial operations had been performed, I returned to Ravensbruck each afternoon, to observe the progress of the persons who had been operated on. No serious illnesses resulted from these initial operations. I reported the progress of the patients to Professor Gebhardt each night.

When the five persons who were first operated on, were cured, another series of five was begun. The surgical procedure and the post-operative procedure was the same as in the initial experiments, but the bacterial cultures were more virulent. The results from this series were substantially the same as in the first and no serious illnesses resulted.

Since no inflammation resulted from the bacterial cultures used in the first two series of operations, it was determined, as a result of correspondence with Dr. Mugrowsky, the head of the Hygienisches Institute der Waffen SS and conversations with his assistant, to change the type of bacterial culture in the subsequent operations. Using the new culture, two more series of operations were performed, each involving five persons.

The difference between the third and fourth series was in the bacterial cultures used. The Hygienisches Institute der Waffen SS prepared them from separate combinations of the three or four gangrene cultures which were available. In the third and fourth series, a more pronounced infection and inflammation was discernible at the place of incision. Its characteristics were similar to a normal, local infection, with redness, swelling and pain. The circumference of the infection was comparable in size to a chestnut. Upon the completion of the fourth series the camp physician informed me that the camp commandant had instructed him that no longer would male patients be available for further experiments, but that it would be necessary to use female inmates.

Accordingly; five women had been prepared for the operation, but I did not operate on them. I reported the change of situation to Professor Gebhardt and suggested that in view of these circumstances, it would be desirable to stop the experimental operations. He did not adopt this suggestion, however, and pointed out that it was necessary, as an officer, that I carry out my duty, which had been assigned to me.

The experiments, however, were interrupted for a period of two weeks, during which Professor Gebhardt told me he had discussed the matter at Berlin and was instructed to carry on the experiments, using Polish female prisoners. In addition, he instructed me to increase the tempo of experiments since the Reichsartz, Dr. Grawitz, intended soon to go to Ravensbruck to test the results of the experiments. Accordingly, I went to Ravensbruck and operated on the female prisoners.

Since the infections which resulted from the first four series of experiments were not typical of battlefield gangrenous infections, we communicated with the Hygienisches Institute der Waffen SS to determine what steps could be taken more nearly to simulate battle-caused infections. As a result of this correspondence and a conference at Hohenlychen presided over by 'Professor Gebhardt, it was decided to add tiny fragments of wood shavings to the bacterial cultures, which would simulate the crust of dirt customarily found in battlefield wounds.

As a result of this conference, three series of operations were performed, each involving ten persons, one using the bacterial culture ,and fragments of wood, the second using bacterial culture and fragments of glass, and the third using the culture plus glass and wood.

About two weeks after these new series were. begun, Dr. Grawitz visited Ravensbruck. Professor Gebhardt introduced him to me and explained to him the general nature of the work. Professor Gebhardt then left, and I explained to Dr. Grawitz the details of the operations and their results. Dr. Grawitz, before I could complete my report on the procedures used and the results obtained, brusquely interrupted me and observed that the conditions under which the experiments were performed did not sufficiently resemble conditions prevailing at the front. He asked me literally, "How many deaths have there been?" and when I reported that there had not been any, he stated that that con-firmed his assumption that the experiments had not been carried out in accordance with his directions.

He said that the operations were mere fleabites and that since the purpose of the work was to determine the effectiveness of sulfanilamide on bullet wounds it would be necessary to inflict actual bullet wounds on the patients. He ordered that the next series of experiments to be undertaken should be 'in accordance with these directions. That same evening, I discussed these orders of Dr. Grawitz with Professor Gebhardt and we both agreed that it was impossible to carry them out, but that a procedure would be adopted which would more nearly simulate battlefield conditions without actually shooting the patients.

The normal result of all bullet wounds is a shattering of tissue, which did not exist in the initial experiments. As a result of the injury, the normal flow of blood through the muscle is cut off. The muscle is nourished by the flow of blood from either end. When this circulation is interrupted, the affected area becomes a fertile field for the growth of bacteria; the normal reaction of the tissue against the bacteria is not possible without circulation.

This interruption of circulation usual in battle casualties could be simulated by tying off the blood vessels at either end of the muscle.

Two series of operations, each involving ten persons, were begun following this procedure. In the first of these, the same bacterial cultures were used as were developed in the third and fourth series; but the glass and wood were omitted, In the other series, streptococci and staphlococci cultures were used.

In the series using the gangrenous culture a severe infection in the area of the incision resulted within 24 hours. Eight patients out of ten became sick from the gangrenous infection. Cases which showed symptoms of an unspecific or specific inflammation were operated on in accordance with the doctrine and manner of septic surgery. The doctrine of Lexer formed the basis for the procedure. The technique is that an incision in the area of the gangrene is made from healthy tissue to healthy tissue on either side. The wound and the corners of the fascia (the fibrous covering of the muscle) were laid open, the gangrenous blisters swabbed, and a solution of H202 (hydrogen perox-ide) was poured over them. The inflamed extremity 'was immobilized in a cast. With most patients it was possible to improve the gangrenous condition of the entire infected area in this manner.

In the series in which banal cultures of streptococci and staphlococci were used, the severe resultant infection with accompanying increase in temperature and swelling did not occur until seventy-two hours later. Four patients showed a more serious picture of the disease. In the case of these patients, the normal professional technique of orthodox medicine was followed as outlined above, and the inflamed swelling split. Due to the slight virulence of the bacteria it was possible in the case of all patients except one to prevent the threatened deadly development of the disease.

The incisions were made on the lower part of 'the leg only in all series to make an amputation possible. It was not made on the upper thigh because then no area for amputation would remain. However, in the series the inflammation was so rapid there was no remedy and no amputations were made.

Since after the tying up of the circulation of the muscles, a very severe course of infection was to be expected, five grams of sulfanilamide were given intravenously in the amount of one gram each, beginning one hour after the operation. After the wound was laid open to expose all its corners, sulfanilamide was shaken into the entire area and the area was drained by thick rubber tubes.

The infection normally reached an acute stage over a period of three weeks, during which time I changed the bandages daily. After the period of three weeks the condition was normally that of a simple wound which was dressed by the camp physicians rather than by me. The procedure prescribed for the post-operative treatment of the patients was to give them three times each day one cc of morphine, and when the dressings were changed, to induce anesthesia by the use of evipan. If evipan could not be given because of the condition of the patient, morphine was used.

In all the series of experiments, except the first, sulfanilamide was used after the gangrenous infection appeared. In each series two persons were not given sulfanilamide as a control to determine its effectiveness. When sulfanilamide and the bacteria cultures together were introduced into the incision no inflammation resulted.

I do not remember exactly how many people were subjected to the sulfanilamide experiments. So far as I can remember, there were six series of experiments, each involving approximately ten persons. I remember positively, however, that deaths occurred only in the last two series. One of the patients in the banal culture series died, and three persons died of an acute gangrenous infection.

After the arrival of Doctor Stumpfegger from general head-quarters in the fall of 1942, Professor Gebhardt declared before some of his co-workers that he had received orders to continue with the tests at Ravensbruck on a larger scale. In this connection, questions of plastic surgery which would be of interest after the end of the war should be clarified. Doctor Stumpfegger was supposed to test the free transplantation of bones. Since Professor Gebhardt knew that I had worked in preparation for my habilitation at the university on regeneration of tissues, he ordered me to prepare a surgical plan for these operations, which after it had been approved he directed me to carry out immediately. Moreover, Doctor Koller and Doctor Heissmeyer were ordered to perform their own series of experiments. Professor Gebhardt was also considering a plan to form the basis of an operative technique of remobilization of joints. Besides the above, Doctors Schulze and Schulze-Hagen participated in this conference. Since I knew Ravensbruck I was ordered to introduce the new doctors named above to the camp physician. I was specially directed to assist Doctor Stumpfegger, since he as physician in the staff of Himmler probably would be absent from time to time.

I had selected the regeneration of muscles for the sole reason because the incision necessary for this purpose was the slightest. The operation was carried out as follows:

Evipan and ether were used as an anesthetic, and a five centimetre longitudinal incision was made at the outer side of the upper leg. Subsequent to the cutting through the fascia, a piece of the muscle was removed which was the size of the cup of the little finger. The fascia and skin were enclosed in accordance with the normal technique of aseptic surgery. Afterwards a cast was applied. After one week the skin wound was split under the same narcotic conditions, and the part of the muscle around the area cut out was removed. Afterwards the fascia and the sewed-up part of the skin were immobilized in a cast.

Since Professor Gebhardt did not ask me any longer for these operations, I discontinued them.

Only one female patient was operated on whose wounds healed under normal aseptic conditions.

As a disciple of Lexer, Gebhardt had already planned long ago a free heteroplastic transplantation of bone (a transplantation'of a bone from one person to another person). In spite of the fact that some of his co-workers did not agree, he was resolved to carry out such an operation on the patient Ladisch, whose shoulder joint (scapula, clavicle, and the head of the humerus) was removed because of a sarcoma.

I and my medical colleagues urged professional and human objections up until the evening before the operation was performed but Gebhardt ordered us to carry out the operations. Doctor Stumpfegger, in whose field of research this operation was, was supposed to perform the removal of the scapula (shoulder blade) at Ravensbruck, and had already made initial arrangements therefor. However, because Professor Gebhardt required Doctor Stumpfegger to assist him in the actual transplantation of the shoulder to the patient Ladisch, I was ordered to go to Ravensbruck and perform the operation' of removal on that evening. I asked Doctor Gebhardt and Schulze to describe exactly the technique which they wished me to follow. The next morning I drove to Ravensbruck after I had made a previous appointment by telephone. At Hohenlychen I had already made the normal initial preparation for an operation, namely, scrubbing, etc., merely put on my coat, and went to Ravensbruck and removed the bone.

The camp physician who was assisting me in the operation continued with it while I returned to Hohenlychen as quickly as possible with the bone which was to be transplanted. In this man-ner the period between removal and transplantation was shortened. At Hohenlychen the bone was handed over to Professor Gebhardt, and he transplanted it, together with Doctor 'Schulze and Doctor Stumpfegger.

Subsequent to the foregoing test operations (gangrenous in-fection) I had impressed on Professor Gebhardt that now we had results which would justify their cessation. I ceased to operate, and later on I did not receive any order to continue with the operations. I did not carry out another order for Doctor Stumpfegger, who was absent at that time, to Continue his work.

My behavior towards all patients was very considerate, and I was very careful in the operations to follow standard professional procedure.

In May 1943 at the occasion of the fourth conference of the consulting physicians of the Wehrmacht a report was made by Professor Gebhardt and myself as to these operations. This medical congress was called by Professor Handloser, who occupied the position of surgeon general of the armed forces, and was attended by a large number of physicians; both military and civilian.

In my lecture to the meeting I reported the operations in an open way using charts which demonstrated the technique used, the amount of sulfanilamide administered, and the condition of the patients. This lecture was the center of the conference. Professor Gebhardt spoke about the fundamentals of the experi-ments, their performance, and their results, and asked me then to describe the technique. He began his lecture with the following words:

"I carry the full human, surgical, and political responsibility for these experiments."

This lecture was followed by a discussion. No criticism was raised. I am convinced that all the physicians present would have acted in the same manner as I.

Subsequent to my repeated urgent requests, I went to the front as surgeon immediately after this conference. Only after I was wounded did I return as a patient to Hohenlychen. I never entered the camp Ravensbruck again. I protested vigorously against these experiments on human beings, endeavored to prevent them, and to limit their extension after they had been ordered. In order not to be forced to participate in these experiments, I repeatedly volunteered for front-line service. Insofar as it was in my power, I have tried to dissuade Doctor Koller and Doctor Heissmeyer from performing these experiments. I declined habilitation at the University of Berlin because I felt that it might result in my being obliged to carry on additional experiments at Ravensbruck. Since I succeeded in scientific discoveries of the highest practical importance, that is, the solution of the cancer problem and its therapy, I have not communicated this fact to Professor Gebhardt and have not published this work in order not to be ordered again to carry out experiments.

[signed] ] Fritz Fischer

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 21st day of November 1945.

[signed] John J. Monigan, Jr. 

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein

Pohl Discusses Experiments with Himmler

Execution of Patients Suffering from Nervous or Mental Disease

1. Information Received from Dr. Anton Edler von Braunmühl, at present acting director of the Heil-und Pflegeanstalt (State Hospital for the Insane) in Eglfing-Haar, near Munich

Contact with Dr. von Braunmühl was established through Major Rudolf J Baruch, M.C., of the 93rd Evacuation Hospital, which was then located in Munich. Major Baruch had learned that Dr. von Braunmühl had evidence concerning the killing of the insane, especially of insane and mentally defective children and that he was eager to divulge this information to the American authorities.

When Major Baruch and myself went to see Dr. von Braunmühl on 3 June 1945, we found him very co-operative indeed. He not only gave us a good deal of information, but also turned over a number of documents which he had salvaged from the former director’s, namely, Dr. Hermann Pfannmüller’s secret files, when the latter fled at the time of arrival of the American armies.

Dr. Pfannmüller had left the contents of his secret files in a room to be burned the next morning, but Dr. von Braunmühl salvaged what he considered the most incriminating documents during the intervening night.

Dr. von Braunmühl stated that between January 1940 and June 1941, 1,857 patients were taken away to be killed. When these figures were checked with the lists included in the documents, it turned out that this figure did not include the special transport of Jewish victims dispatched on 20 September 1940 to Lublin, Poland, of which no figures remained available in the files, apart from correspondence with relatives and various interested agencies inquiring of their whereabouts. The correspondence refers to 31 different patients included in this transport, 14 of whom were male, and 17 female. One of the males was a 10 year old child. All but one of the 1,857 victims, whose names and other data are available in the salvaged lists, were non-Jews.

In addition to the above mentioned victims, a great number of children (several hundreds) were killed by poison (barbiturates, hyoscin and a special preparation called modiscop), in the institution at Eglfing itself. All this was done in great secrecy. Attendants cooperating in the killings were sworn to secrecy under the threat of death. Signed statements of this nature were included in the file of documents which Dr. von Braunmühl turned over.

The people who carried out the transports were members of a branch of the S.S. which went under the alias of "Gemeinnützige Krankentransport G.m.b.H." ("Commonly Useful Transport Company for the Sick"), Berlin, W9, Potsdamer Platz 1.

Correspondence concerning the killing of children went through the "Reichsausschuss zur wissenschaftlichen erfassung von erb- und anlagebedingten schweren Leiden" ("Realm Committee for the Scientific approach to severe illness caused by heredity or constitution"), Berlin-Frohnau, Enkircher Strasse 13 and Berlin W9, Postschliessfach 101. The chairman of the latter organisation was Dr. Richard von Hegener, Berlin-Schöneberg, Apostel Paulusstr 1.

The victims selected for killings were carted off at night from the freight station in freight cars by torchlight by the S.S. men dispatched for the purpose. Relatives of patients were told that they were transported to another institution "which is not known to us" and were told to wait for further communications or to write to the "Transport Company for the Sick". After four weeks they were usually notified that the patient died from appendicitis or a stroke and that the body was burned because of "danger of infection".

Of the people responsible for the killings, Dr. von Braunmühl holds the former director of the state hospital for the insane in Eglfing, Dr. Hermann Pfannmüller, as most directly responsible, although he acted in the name of the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior.

Dr. von Braunmühl emphasizes that Dr. Pfannmüller is a brutal fellow who actually enjoyed to dispatch patients to their death. He used to refer to newly admitted patients as "new chunks of meat". Dr. von Braunmühl stated that he considered Dr. Valentin Faltlhauser, director of the Institution for the Mentally Sick in Kaufbeuren, an equally bad type. Dr. Falthauser did most of the killing on his own premises and even had a private crematorium installed, similar to the crematoriums in concentration camps.

Dr. von Braunmühl considers both Dr. Pfannmüller and Dr. Falthauser as war criminals and he recommended that they should be tried. The trial should preferably be by a joint American and Bavarian Commission, because Dr. von Braunmühl is a very patriotic Bavarian and feels that the people of Bavaria would like to express their abhorrence of the practices imposed upon them during their period of tyrannic domination by the Nazis.

Dr. von Braunmühl also expressed the desire that if the American authorities gave any publicity to these matters it should first of all be given to Kaufbeuren and only later and as little as possible to Eglfing, because he felt that too much publicity focused on Eglfing would interfere with the confidence of the public in the type of treatment available at Eglfing, which he hoped to establish on the highest possible standards as soon as he took over as its new director.

He also felt that since he turned over on his own initiative most of the evidence, that some consideration should be shown to his institution. I told Dr. von Braunmühl that I could not make any binding promises in that direction, but I would communicate his point of view to the C.I.C authorities, with whom the final decision would rest.

When I turned over the information to the C.I.C investigator, Captain Barbour of the 9th Air Force, on the next day (4 June 1945), after I had deposited the documents at the 7th Army Document Center, I did transmit Dr. von Braunmühl’s views but left it entirely up to C.I.C to act according to their policies in regard to whether or not they wanted to "play ball" with Dr. von Braunmühl.

Dr. von Braunmühl then went on to say that Dr. Pfannmüller was now a prisoner of the allies and that he had been held in a camp at Fürstenfeldbruck. However, he learned later that he was recently transferred to a nearby German hospital because of abdominal pain.

Of other people responsible for the killings, Dr. von Braunmühl named Professor Dr. Walter Schultze, the departmental director of the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior. Other organizers of the killings were Professor Heyde in Würzburg and Professor Carl Schneider in Heidelberg. Dr. von Braunmühl stated that Dr. Pfannmüller and Dr. Schultze could probably name some more of the higher-ups in Berlin who were responsible.

The killings of children were carried out in a special section of the children’s department at Eglfing. The most popular substance used for the killing was "modiscop", which was a preparation manufactured in Vienna and widely used as an anaesthetic in Vienna, where it had been found to be quite toxic for children. When the lists, including documents, were looked over with Dr. von Braunmühl it was found that 275 children were listed, 213 of which were killed on "authorization".

From the documents it became evident that all patients transported away for killing after 20 September 1940 were non-Jews. A letter written by Dr, Pfannmüller on that date reported gleefully that his institution for the insane was now free of Jews, except for one Czechoslovakian Jew who was soon to be transferred to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

The number of non-Jews killed during the first 9 months of the killing up to 20 September 1940, was 469. During the second period of 9 months, after completion of the killing of the Jews, 1,388 non-Jews were killed. It is obvious from these figures that the killing of non-Jews was greatly increased after the Jews had been exterminated.

As an illustration of the great secrecy in which the killings were carried out, Dr. von Braunmühl pointed to the fact that even county officials and mayors of towns were merely told that the patient had been transferred to an institution of unknown location, and were referred for further information to the above named transport company.

As stated above, the documents which Dr. von Braunmühl gave me were turned over by me to the 7th Army Doc.Ctr on 4 June 1945, where they were discussed with Captain Barbour, 9th Air Force, the officially designated C.I.C investigator.

Due to the co-operation of Lt. Holger Hagen of the 7th Army Document Center, microfilms of the documents were prepared which are included in this report as appendices to the following chapter, in which the documents obtained from Dr. Pfannmüller’s secret file are discussed and described in further detail.

Information received from Miss Amalie Widmann, Nurse at the State Hospital in Wiesloch, near Heidelberg

Miss Widmann stated that the first transport of patients to a killing center left Wiesloch on 29 February 1940. Among the patients were a good many who had become endeared and attached to Miss Widmann.

After they had been taken to the killing center, Miss Widmann became unable to take her mind off the sad fate of these patients, and she became unable to rest day or night.

She had to think about them all the time. She finally felt that it might give her ease of mind if she could actually see what happened, and she decided to visit the killing center in Grafeneck herself. So she asked for a furlough, not telling anybody what she planned to do, and she went to Grafeneck on 22 July 1940.

When she got off the train at Marbach a.d. Lauter bei Münzingen, which is the railhead for Grafeneck, the people whom she asked for directions to Grafeneck looked at her in a peculiar way as if there was something strange or funny about her. When she finally arrived in front of  the institution in Grafeneck, she found a sign reading: "Entry strictly prohibited because of danger of infection" ("Zutritt wegen Seuchengefahr strengstens verboten").

There were heavily armed men in green uniform, obviously police about the area. Suddenly Miss Widmann felt gripped by an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and she ran away over an open field crying bitterly. She sat down and cried for a while. She then saw that she was on the premises of a stud farm.

The farmer came and asked her whether he could do anything for her, and she told him that she wanted to go and see the institution in Grafeneck. The farmer then told her: "Do not go there. One must not say anything". Shortly afterwards, an SS man appeared, accompanied by other SS men, with hounds. They took her into the building, where she was brought before an official who asked her what she wanted.

She said that she wanted to see some of her old patients and find out how they were. The official then stated that the patients liked it so much there that they would never want to leave again. He then interrogated her sharply abut her antecedents and her connections with any group, if any.

He then called up Dr. Möckel. Miss Widmann added that she felt she owed her life to Dr. Möckel because if he had not talked for her they would have killed her. The reason why she went there was because of her deep feeling of close relationship with her patients.

  • 29 February 1940

Nazi Gynecological Instruments Found

Other medical instruments found near Auschwitz as well. By: Omer Shachnai

A terrifying and shocking collection of instruments, which were used by Nazi death camp doctors to perform medical experiments on prisoners in Auschwitz, were found in a home near the former death camp.

The collection includes more than 150 gynecological and surgical instruments, shown in the picture on the right, which were found in Oswiecim, a small adjacent town, after which the death camp was named.

A spokesman for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp Museum said on Thursday (August 23rd) that the instruments are thought to have been used by Carl Clauberg, a Nazi physician who was a member of the SS, and experimented with methods of mass sterilization of women, as a part of the Third Reich's plan to exterminate the entire Jewish race. Scores of women who were held as prisoners at the death camp died as a result of the demented procedures which were performed on them by Clauberg and his “medical” crew.

The tools were found after the liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp, within the area that was closed and inaccessible from outside, the camp interest zone, close to the train station in Oswiecim. They were in private hands for over 60 years and through a local collector and enthusiast of history, they were just donated to the Museum.

"This is a great event, quite unusual. I never thought that after so many years it would be possible to identify and acquire such a rich collection. Moreover, there are very few items related to the SS doctors’ pseudo-scientific experiments. Evidence of their crimes were either destroyed or consistently sent to the depths of the Reich,” director of the Museum Doctor Cywinski emphasized.

This discovery comes after a fire at the Majdanek concentration camp wiped out some 10,000 pairs of shoes earlier this month, which belonged to the victims. As well, in May, heavy floods covered the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and nearly destroyed the memorial area.

In June 1945, Clauberg was taken prisoner by the Russians. He was then sentenced to 25 years behind bars, before being sent back to West Germany in 1955. He was charged again on the basis of complaints and evidence provided by the survivors. He died two years later, in 1957.



Selected at Auschwitz as a guinea pig along with Jewish children from other countries, including Jacqueline Morgenstern from France, Georges-André was sent to the Neuengamme camp.

He was the victim of pseudo-medical experiments. The day before the liberation of the camp, he and his comrades in suffering were hanged in the basement of a Hamburg school, the Bullenhuser Damm. A book with that title tells the story of those Jewish children's martyrdom, and today there is a street in Hamburg called Georges-André Kohn Strasse.

Contributor: bgill
Created: October 14, 2011 · Modified: December 10, 2011

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