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Overview of Nazi “Euthanasia” and Human Experimentation.

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Presentation on theme: "Overview of Nazi “Euthanasia” and Human Experimentation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Overview of Nazi “Euthanasia” and Human Experimentation

2 Detail of the "Science of Race" segment U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

3 Display on Nazi racial science, series of glass lantern slides-- U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum [Photograph #N02379]

4 German quotation reads: "That which does not satisfy the demands of Being collapses." Eugenics poster entitled "The eradication of the sick and weak in nature"

5 Hartheim Castle, a "euthanasia" killing center where the physically and mentally disabled were killed by gassing and lethal injection. Hartheim, Austria (USHMM Photo).USHMM Photo

6 Describe the series of euthanasia activities leading up to this extreme example. How can authorities and decision-makers get to this stage? What are they using as justification?

7 Cemetery of the Hadamar “Euthanasia” Center This photograph was taken toward the end of the war. Hadamar, April 1945 (NARA Photo).NARA

8 How could the doctors and nurses get to this point? What were the motivations? What were the justifications?

9 How could the doctors and nurses get to this point? Nazification of Medicine –Changing of medical philosophy from healing the patient to healing the “volk” –State – endorsed programs centering around biological ideas  creating a stronger society Use of medical field to persecute Jewish doctors

10 What kind of transformation in ideology did the German doctors go through (away from the traditional doctor’s philosophy)? What relationship does seeing the “Volk as the vessel of God” have to Kant’s categorical imperative?


12 What do you think is motivating the doctor (Pfannmuller) in this? What motivations are going on in the lady who protested? (Why did she not simply say that this euthanasia was wrong?) What ethical reasoning prompts “humane killing” but not protecting? What difference would it make had these children been another species? (e.g. lab animals or livestock)

13 To test how to treat phosphorus burns, doctors at Ravensbruck concentration camp applied a mixture of phosphorus and rubber to inmates' skin, ignited it, and let it burn for 20 seconds.

14 "It was the worst experiment ever made. Two Russian officers were brought from the prison barracks. Rascher had them stripped and they had to go into the vat naked. Hour after hour went by, and whereas usually unconsciousness from the cold set in after 60 minutes at the latest, the two men in this case still responded fully after two and a half hours. All appeals to Rascher to put them to sleep by injection were fruitless. After the third hour one of the Russians said to the other, 'Comrade, please tell the officer to shoot us.' The other replied that he expected no mercy from this Fascist dog. The two shook hands with a 'Farewell, Comrade'... These words were translated to Rascher by a young Pole, though in a somewhat different form. Rascher went to his office. The young Pole at once tried to chloroform the two victims, but Rascher came back at once, threatening us with his gun... The test lasted at least five hours before death supervened." --Walter Neff, Auschwitz prisoner who served as Dr. Rascher's medical orderly

15 A prisoner during low-pressure experimentation at Dachau, 1942. "The third experiment... took such an extraordinary course that I called an SS physician of the camp as witness, since I had worked on these experiments all by myself. It was a continuous experiment without oxygen at a [simulated] height of 12 kilometers [39,283 feet] conducted on a 37-year-old Jew in good general condition. Breathing continued up to 30 minutes. After four minutes the experimental subject began to perspire and wiggle his head, after five minutes cramps occurred, between six and ten minutes breathing increased in speed and the experimental subject became unconscious; from 11 to 30 minutes breathing slowed down to three breaths per minute, finally stopping altogether." --Dr. Sigmund Rascher to Heinrich Himmler, 1942 Dachau..

16 Eight of the many hundreds of children whom Nazi doctors experimented upon at Auschwitz.

17 "Fifteen girls aged 17 to 18 years old. The girls who survived the following operations are in German hands and little is known about them. The subjects were placed in an ultra-short-wave field. One electrode was placed on the abdomen and another on the vulva. The rays were focused on the ovaries. The ovaries were consequently burned up. Owing to faulty doses several had serious burns of the abdomen and vulva. One died as a result of these burns alone. The others were sent to another concentration camp where some were put in hospital and others made to work. After a month they returned to Auschwitz where control operations were performed. Sagittal and transverse sections of the ovaries were made. The girls altered entirely owing to hormonal changes. They looked just like old women. Often they were laid up for months owing to the wounds of the operations becoming septic. Several died as a result of sepsis." --Sterilization experiment at Auschwitz, as described by two Dutch doctors who had been prisoners there.

18 During the second World War, Nazi human experimentation occurred in Germany. At war's conclusion, 23 Nazi doctors and scientists were tried for the murder of concentration camp inmates who were used as research subjects. Of the 23 professionals tried at Nuremberg, 15 were convicted. Seven of them were condemned to death by hanging and eight received prison sentences from 10 years to life. Eight professionals were acquitted. (Mitscherlich 1992) Nuremberg Trial

19 Nuremberg Code The result of the Nuremberg trial was the Nuremberg Code. It includes the following guidelines, among others, for researchers: Informed consent is essential. Research should be based on prior animal work. The risks should be justified by the anticipated benefits. Research must be conducted by qualified scientists. Physical and mental suffering must be avoided. Research in which death or disabling injury is expected should not be conducted.

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