All that has been most talked about since World War II broke out are the many gruesome acts that the Nazis carried out against German Jews in the name of ‘racial purity’. The Holocaust, which was the genocide that involved killing of approximately 6 million Jews at the hands of Hitler-run Nazi regime, still accounts for the most haunting memory from World War II diaries.
But it was not the Holocaust alone, the Nazi Human Experimentation was another equally horrific run carried out by the Nazi doctors. Prisoners were forced to serve as toy dolls on whom hazardous experiments were performed. These experiments, or more like medical tortures, more often than not resulted in death, disfigurement, permanent disability, and of course, trauma.
1. Twin experiments – They sewed twins!
Josef Mengele was the central leader of the experiments and in the span of one year (1943 to 1944) he experimented on as many as 1,500 sets of twins imprisoned at Auschwitz camp. And out of this huge number, just about 200 managed to survive the tests.
The gruesome act involved injecting dyes in the eyes of twins to see if they changed color and even sewing them together in order to create their own version of conjoined twins!
2. Experiments with poison- To test the potency levels of poisons by shooting the prisoners with poisonous bullets
They wanted to learn about the efficacy of various poisons and in order to do so, they secretly poisoned the food items of the prisoners, which, of course, resulted in their death. In some cases, prisoners were murdered immediately after they consumed the food, in order to officially allow autopsies. There was also a time when the prisoners were shot with poisonous bullets!
3. Sea water experiments- The sole food for the prisoners!
At one of the Nazi concentration camps, experiments were conducted to test the effects of sea water on the human body and if it can be made drinkable. For the same, a group of about 90 Romani people were given nothing edible but sea water for approximately 2-3 months. Historians note that the subjects suffered such severe dehydration that they were even observed licking freshly mopped floors in the hope of finding the left traces of drinkable water.
4. Mustard gas experiments- They first burned the prisoners, then tried to treat their burns, and definitely not out of pity
They wanted to test the treatments that could heal the burn wounds incurred by Mustard gas. So unsurprisingly, they first let the mustard gas scorch the prisoners and then, they tested the treatment possibilities for the burns.
5. Bone, muscle, nerve transplantation- They extracted these parts without administering anesthesia to the prisoners
They wanted to know about the possibilities of bone, muscle and nerve regeneration. And for the same, they extracted the bones, and the other said parts from the subjects without even administering anesthesia to the subjects. Subsequently, the subjects suffered mutilation, sheer agony, and permanent disability.
6. Head injury experiments- They hammered the heads of little kids
This one seems like a scene right out of a psycho thriller. The experiments (if that’s what they were), were carried out in a small building behind the house of a Nazi doctor. It involved strapping of a young boy to a chair so that his movements could be restricted. Above his head, was adjusted a mechanized hammer that came down and hit his head in intervals of every few seconds! The torture, it goes unsaid, drove the boy insane.
7. High altitude experiments- The prisoners were rendered breathless in low-pressure chambers
The purpose behind this experiment was to aid German soldier pilots, who in case of emergencies, had to eject at high altitudes. The prisoners were kept in low-pressure chambers, that in a way were made to simulate the temperature conditions at an altitude of up to 66,000 ft.
The brains of those who survived this test in the initial run were experimented upon! Out of the 200 subjects, 80 died immediately and the rest were executed.
8. Malaria experiments- To look for Malaria cures, they first infected the healthy inmates by mosquitoes
They wanted to test for possible malaria cures and so they injected healthy inmates with the extracts of mucous glands of female mosquitoes. After the victims contracted malaria, they were given various drugs to test their efficacy. As many as 1000 inmates were forcefully made victims of the fatal disease and over half of them died as a result.
9. Sulphonamide (anti-microbial agent) experiments- To test the effectiveness of sulphonamide, they wounded the prisoners and then infected those wounds
First, they wounded the prisoners and then, they infected the wounds with bacteria (the special ones that are responsible for causing tetanus and the deadly form of gangrene- gas gangrene). And to conceive a wound similar to that of a battlefield wound, they tied the ends of the wound to cut off the blood supply. What’s more, they aggravated the infection by infusing wood shavings and ground glass into the wounds.
After fully satisfying their evil sides, they got down to work and addressed the wounds with sulphonamide to test the effectiveness of the anti-microbial agent.
10. Sterilization experiments- Deceivingly, they sterilized as many as 300,000 prisoners in a span of four years!
All that Hitler wanted was to establish and spread the “Germanic race,” which he considered to be the pure and ideal Aryan race. And the Nazi doctors helped Hitler achieve the same by carrying out involuntary sterilization of people, who suffered genetic disabilities like weak-mindedness, schizophrenia, blindness, deafness and other psychological and physical deformities.
After following a series of failed but gruesome experiments, the prisoners were sterilized through deception. They were called in a room and asked to fill up some forms that took just about a couple of minutes. Within that much amount of time, they were administered with radiation treatments. The prisoners, all this while, were completely unaware that they were rendered sterile!
The Nazi doctors would have thought; “the prisoners are going to be killed anyway, so why not kill them in a way that is beneficial for us.” But what they clearly failed to see was that their acts gave the word ‘torture’ a whole another and highly intensified meaning.