Several of the seventy or
more medical-research projects conducted by
the Nazis between the fall of 1939 and spring
of 1945 were conducted at Auschwitz.
These projects involved experiments conducted
with human beings against their will, and
at least seven thousand were so treated, based
upon existing documents and personal testimonies;
there were undoubtedly many more for which
no documentation or personal testimony remains.
About two hundred German
medical doctors were involved in the concentration
camp experiments, conducting Selektionen,
medical services, and research. They maintained
close professional ties with the German medical
establishment, and used the universities and
research institutes in Germany and Austria
in their work.
Dr. Ernst Robert Grawitz,
SS Chief Medical Officer, received all requests
for authority to perform experimentation,
and obtained two opinions before passing them
with his recommendation.
Grawitz used Dr. Karl Gebhardt,
personal physician, for one opinion, and Richard
Glücks and Arthur Nebe for the other.
He then passed his report to Himmler,
who took great interest in the experiments
and often interfered with them.
There were three broad classes
of experiments. The German Air Force conducted
experiments at Dachau
(and elsewhere) dealing with survival and
rescue, including research into the effects
of high altitude, freezing temperatures, and
the ingestion of seawater.
Medical treatment constituted
a second class, and involved research into
the treatment of battle injuries, gas attacks,
and the formulation of immunization compounds
to treat contagious and epidemic diseases.
Finally, there were racial
experiments, including research into dwarfs
and twins, serological research, and skeletal
examination. It is this class of horrors that
returns us to Auschwitz (Encyclopedia
of the Holocaust,, Vol. 3, pp. 957-958).
During his interrogation
Eichmann, Israeli police Captain Avner
Less brought up the subject of Eichmann's
complicity in medical 'research' projects
which had been approved by the Reichsführer-SS,
Himmler , and read four documents to him.
What follows is the text of Less's interrogation
at that point...
LESS: I have
some photostats of documents that were submitted
in the first Nuremberg
war crimes trial, the trial of the physicians.
The sender of this letter is the business
manager of Ahnenerbe. I'll read it to you.
2, 1942. Secret. To SS-Obersturmbannführer
Dr. Brandt. Dear Comrade Brandt: As you
know, the Reichsführer-SS gave orders
some time ago to the effect that SS-Hauptsturmführer
Prof. Dr. Hirt should be supplied with
everything he requires for his research.
For certain anthropological investigations
-- I have already reported to the Reichsführer-SS
on the subject -- 150 skeletons of prisoners
or Jews are needed, and these are to be
made available by the Auschwitz concentration
camp." Etc. etc. It's signed: "With
comradely greetings, Heil Hitler, Yours,
The second document is
a report by this Professor Hirt. "Re:
Procurement of the skulls of Jewish-Bolshevistic
commissars for scientific research at the
University of Strassburg." I quote:
collections from nearly all races and
people are in existence. It is only of
Jews that so few skulls are available
to science that work on them admits of
no secure findings. The war in the East
now offers us an opportunity to make good
this deficiency. In the Jewish-Bolshevistic
commissars, who embody a repulsive and
characteristic type of subhuman, we have
the possibility of acquiring a reliable
scientific document by acquiring their
The smoothest and most
expeditious way of obtaining and securing
this provision of skulls would be to instruct
the Wehrmacht to hand over all Jewish-Bolshevistic
commissars immediately to the military
police. The person charged with securing
this material (a young physician or medical
student belonging to the Werhmacht or
better still to the military police) is
to prepare a previously specified series
of photographs and anthropoligical measurements.
After the subsequently
induced death of the Jew, whose head must
not be injured, he will separate the head
from the trunk and send it, immersed in
a preserving fluid, in well-sealed lead
containers made especially for this purpose,
to the designated address."
And now the next document.
A letter of June 21, 1943. From Ahnenerbe.
"To Reich Security
Headquarters IVB4, Attention: SS-Obersturmführer
Eichmann. Re: Skeleton collection.
With reference to your
letter of September 25, 1942, and the
consultations held since then regarding
the above-mentioned matter, we wish to
inform you that Dr. Bruno Beger, our staff
member charged with the above-mentioned
special mission, terminated his work in
the Auschwitz concentration camp on June
15, 1943, because of the danger of an
epidemic. In all, 115 persons, 79 male
Jews, 2 Poles, 4 Central Asians, and 30
Jewesses, were processed.
These inmates have been
placed, men and women separately, in the
concentration-camp sick quarters, and
quarantined. For the further processing
of these selected persons, immediate transfer
to Natzweiler concentration camp is desirable
and should be effected as quickly as possible
in view of the danger of infection in
Auschwitz. A list of the selected persons
is appended. You are requested to send
the necessary instructions."
And now for the last document.
Personal Staff, Field Headquarters, November
6, 1942. Secret. To Reich Security Headquarters
IVB4. Attention: SS-Obersturmführer
Eichmann. The Reichsführer-SS has
ordered that Dr. Hirt, head of the Anatomy
Department in Strassburg, should be supplied
with everything needed for his research.
In the name of the Reichsführer-SS,
I therefore request you to help establish
the projected skeleton collection. per.
proc. SS-Obersturmbannführer Brandt"
Lang, Jochen. ed. Eichmann Interrogated:
Transcripts from the Archives of the Israeli
Police. NY: Farrar, Straus, &
Giroux, 1983, pp. 169-171).
Thus the German government's
full complicity in the crimes committed
at Auschwitz under the guise of "medical
research" is clear, with a chain of
evidence reaching all the way to Himmler.