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Horst Schumann

(1906 - 1983)


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Dr. Horst Schumann (first lieutenant of the air force and SS-Sturmbannführer), was born in 1906 as son of a physician in Halle/Saale. He entered the NSDAP in 1930 and, two years later, joined the SA. In 1933, he was a doctor in Halle and was employed in the Public Health Office. After the war began, Schumann was recruited by the air force as a physician.

Viktor Brack, director of the department "Aktion T 4" asked him to participate in the euthanasia program. Schumann agreed and, in January 1940, he became head of the euthanasia-institute Grafeneck in Wurttemberg, where people were killed by motor exhaust fumes. Half a year later, he became director of the institute Sonnenstein/Pirna in Saxonia.

After Hitler officially ordered the extermination of “life unworthy of life,” Schumann belonged to a commission of doctors who transferred weak and sick prisoners in Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau, Flossenbürg, Gross-Rosen, Mauthausen, Neuengamme and Niederhangen concentration camps to the euthanasia killing centers.

On July 28, 1941, Schumann arrived in Auschwitz for the first time.Like Carl Clauberg, Schumann was searching for a convenient means of mass sterilization that would enable the Third Reich to carry out the biological destruction of conquered nations by “scientific methods” — through depriving people of their reproductive capacity. “X-ray sterilization” equipment was set up for Schumann in one of the barracks at Birkenau. Every so often, several dozen Jewish men and women prisoners were brought in. The sterilization experiments consisted of exposing the women's ovaries and the men's testes to X-rays. Schumann applied various intensities at various intervals in his search for the optimal dose of radiation. The exposure to radiation produced severe burns on the belly, groin, and buttocks areas of the subjects, and festering sores that were resistant to healing. Many subjects died from complications. The results of the X-ray sterilization experiments were unsatisfactory. In an article that he sent to Himmler in April 1944, titled “The Effect of X-Ray Radiation on the human Reproductive Glands,” Schumann expressed a preference for surgical castration, as being quicker and more certain.

Schumann left Auschwitz in 1944. In October 1945, he suddenly appeared in Gladbeck where we was appointed urban sports-doctor. He opened his own consulting practice in 1949 with a refugee credit and was only recognized as a war criminal in 1951. Schumann fled and worked as a doctor on a ship before settling in the Sudan in 1955. Four years later, he fled again via Nigeria and Libya to Ghana. In 1966, Schumann was finally delivered to the German Federal Republic, where the trial against him was opened in September 1970. The proceedings were delayed in April 1971 because of Schumann's high blood-pressure. Without any public interest, Schumann was released from prison on July 29, 1972. He spent the rest of his life in Frankfurt and died on May 5, 1983, eleven years after he had been released.


Sources: Institut fuer Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte - Uni Linz; The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum

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