Criminal and completely unethical medical experimentation carried out on human "guinea pigs" by German physicians mutilated and murdered more than 7000 men, women, and children. Victims were initially taken from Germany's general population (physically handicapped and mentally ill), then from the ranks of concentration-camp prisoners and POWs.
In 1927 the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics was established in Berlin to develop German "race science." Under director Eugen Fischer, the institute formulated complex race theories, and encouraged the weeding out of Germany's "genetically unfit." Later, under Nazi rule, this philosophy culminated in forced sterilization and other, even more terrible research.
Nazi scientists were curious about the limits of human endurance as well as bodily reaction to a whole catalogue of remorseless physical insult. At Auschwitz, Dr. Horst Schumann removed the testicles of young men after subjecting the organs to burning X-rays. At the same camp, Dr. Eduard Wirths and gynecology professor Dr. Carl Clauberg studied women's wombs following injections of toxic chemicals.
Ravensbrück's Dr. Karl Gebhart inflicted leg fractures on healthy, young Polish women, and freely transplanted amputated limbs from prisoner victims to patients at the SS hospital. Dr. Sigmund Rascher was posted to Dachau, where he forced "patients" to swallow Polygal 10, a coagulant designed to inhibit blood loss. They were then shot at point-blank range.
Dr. Karl Brandt, chief of all German medical services, authorized tests of phosgene- and mustard-gas poisoning that were performed at Sachsenhausen by Drs. Walter Sonntag and Heinrich Baumkötter.
Dr. Arnold Dohmen infected Sachsenhausen prisoners with hepatitis; deadly gangrene bacilli came courtesy of Dr. Ernst Grawitz, head of SS health services. At Buchenwald, Dr. Karl Genzken infected prisoners with typhus. Other physicians throughout the camp system induced yellow fever, smallpox, cholera, diphtheria, influenza, and tuberculosis. At the prompting of the Luftwaffe, physicians at Dachau and elsewhere killed prisoners while studying their reactions to extreme heat and cold; and to oxygen deprivation during painful experiments simulating high altitude.
Auschwitz's Dr. Josef Mengele--dubbed the "Angel of Death" by inmates--undertook particularly bizarre criminal research. He was fascinated by twins, and attempted to change victims' eye colors with chemical eyewashes; to surgically transform normal, living twins into Siamese twins; and to test comparative organ reaction after injecting chloroform directly into twins' hearts. When a one-year-old triplet fell into Mengele's hands, the child was "autopsied" while anesthetized but still alive.
Dwarfs and hunchbacks also captured Mengele's fancy. These unfortunates were studied and then murdered. The flesh of some was boiled from bones that were subsequently sent to the Anthropological Museum in Berlin. There, and at other such places, the Nazi "research" continued.