By Ross Pomeroy for RealClearScience
During the Holocaust, the twisted “ethics” of the Nazi Party produced horrendous medical experiments. When the ethos of German physicians changed from focusing on the health of the individual to the collective health of society, terrible things could be justified at the expense of “undesirable” individuals, as long as such actions promoted the well-being of everyone else.
It was under this perverted mindset, seduced by the allure of unlimited funding and resources, that Nazi scientists conducted all manner of torturous experiments on unwilling human subjects, mainly in concentration camps. As a result, more than 15,000 people died and 400,000 others were left scarred, barren or crippled.
The final result of this horrific episode in medical history was the Nuremberg Code, a set of ten rules created in the wake of the “Doctors Trial” in Nuremberg, Germany, to ensure that experiments on humans are conducted ethically. .
One of the stated principles of the Code is to receive the participants’ voluntary consent, avoid unnecessary suffering, and allow subjects to end an experiment whenever they want.
Although the scientific atrocities of the Nazis are decades away, we must not forget them, lest they be repeated in one semblance of another. Here are five of the Nazis’ most horrific medical experiments:
1. Injuring subjects to test drugs.
Nazi doctors would regularly inflict battlefield-like wounds on participants without anesthetic to test the effectiveness of various compounds intended to suppress infections and promote healing. They often also applied bacteria to the wounds or rubbed ground glass or wood shavings. As one survivor recalled:
“They made a cut, about 10 centimeters long and 2 centimeters wide, on my arm above the palm of my hand. Today I understand that the surgery performed on me without anesthesia was intentionally done with tools that had not been sterilized to cause infection. At the time, they kept changing the bandages with different medicated creams and liquids. The bandage was not wrapped around the arm, but only covered the wound. Every day they examined the cut and every time the cut was about to heal, they opened it up again and started from scratch.”
2. Amputation and Transplantation Experiments.
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In particularly naive and heartless experiments, scientists at Ravensbruck concentration camp cut off the limbs of inmates — again without anesthesia — to see if those limbs could be easily transplanted onto others, presumably in hopes of providing wounded Nazi soldiers with replacement appendages. . The experiments were not successful.
3. High Altitude Research.
Nazi SS doctor Sigmund Rascher devised one of the most murderous experiments. He and members of the Luftwaffe Medical Service placed more than 200 inmates from Dachau concentration camp one at a time in a low-pressure chamber to simulate the effects of high altitudes on humans. high in the air.
Eighty subjects died of oxygen deprivation and altitude sickness, and the rest were murdered so that autopsies could be performed. It is rumored that Rascher occasionally dissected the brains of prisoners while subjects were still alive to directly observe the immediate effects of high altitude on the organ.
4. Survival on sea water.
Also in Dachau, doctor Hans Eppinger conducted experiments to see if people could survive six to 12 days by drinking only seawater. Ninety people were deprived of food and forced to endure the process. Most were seriously injured from dehydration and starvation at the study’s conclusion. Why can’t people survive drinking seawater?
According to NOAA, “Human kidneys can only make urine that is less salty than salt water. Therefore, you have to urinate more water than you have drunk to get rid of all the excess salt that you have ingested from drinking seawater. You will eventually die from it.” dehydration, even as you get thirstier.”
5. Freezing experiments.
Perhaps the most infamous experiment investigated hypothermia. Rascher and others wanted to find the best method of treating Nazi soldiers who had been left in icy water or exposed to extreme winter cold.
For example, about 300 prisoners in Dachau were immersed for hours in ice baths or left naked in the freezing cold. When their bodies reached the astonishingly low temperature of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, Nazi doctors tried to resuscitate them in a variety of ways, from warm sleeping bags to flaming baths, to sun lamps, to even sex (yes, sex).
About a third of the subjects died. Nazi doctors determined that heating people in hot water saved the most lives.
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
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