THE EVIL SCIENCE OF HUMAN EXPERIMENTS
ADOLF HITLER GERMANY, 1934-1945 15 MILLION KILLED
The atrocities of Adolf Hitler? How long have you got? The genocide of six million Jews during the Holocaust, people he classed as Untermenschen (sub-humans). At least three million prisoners of war executed. Up to 500,000 Romani (gypsies) slaughtered. The imprisonment of 100,000 homosexuals. The euthanasia of 75,000-250,000 mentally handicapped Germans. The list is long, and repulsive.
There’s also a strong case to be made over Hitler’s influence on the deaths of 66 million people during World War Two, thanks to his aggressive war-mongering and empire expansion.
One of the most depraved exploits acted out under Hitler’s watch were the Nazi’s human experiments, conducted on concentration camp prisoners during the early-1940s.
Hideous procedures were performed under the guise of science, using people as guinea pigs to advance various Nazi causes, including weapon development, the rescue of military personnel in combat and to further the regime’s twisted racial ideologies.
Without exception, captives were forced to take part, often resulting in death, disfigurement or permanent disability.
German physicians such as Edurad Wirths (Auschwitz) had no time for sentiment – as well as Jews, Romani, ethinic Poles and disabled Germans, children were also considered fair game.
At Auschwitz, Dr Josef Mengele experimented on almost 1,500 twins. Mengele was keen to see if the human body could be unnaturally manipulated, and whether there was a way to quickly multiply the Aryan race. In doing so, he undertook various macabre procedures: injecting dyes into the eyes of kids to see if they would change colour, or sewing children together in an attempt to artificially create conjoined twins. Around 200 twins survived their ordeals.
Then there were the freezing experiments at Dachau in which victims were submerged in icy water for up to five hours, to see if there was a way to treat German pilots who’d ejected into cold seas; the sea water experiments whereby groups were given nothing to drink (or eat) except sea water, resulting in extreme dehydration and sickness; the transplant experiments at Ravensbruück that saw a victim’s joints and limbs amputated, then implanted onto someone else; or the bomb experiments at Buchenwald that involved scalding prisoners with phosphorus burns to test various pharmaceutical treatments for bomb wounds.
But perhaps the lowest point – and an example of just how ingrained human experimentation had become within the Nazi Party – was the passing of the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Defective Progeny in July 1933, which legalised the involuntary sterilisation of anyone with diseases deemed to be hereditary (i.e. those with physical deformities, mental issues, blindness, deafness, alcoholic dependence, and more). Within two years of the act being rubberstamped by parliament, around 1% of citizens aged between 17 and 24 had been injected with iodine and silver nitrate to stop them producing offspring. By 1945, around 400,000 Germans had been sterilised.
INHUMANE TREATMENT Nazi physicians conduct a freezing experiment on a prisoner at Dachau in 1942. The use of human guinea pigs for sick experiments was widespread during Hitler’s reign.