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Nazi Medical Experiments: Dachau High Altitude Medical Experiments


Brandt to Sievers, March 1942

Letter from SS-Sturmbannführer Brandt to SS-Obersturmbannführer Sievers, 21 March 1942:

"Reference is made to the subatmospheric pressure experiments which are being carried out on concentration camp inmates in the Dachau camp by the air force. The Reich Leader-SS has approved the experiments under the conditions that SS-Untersturmführer Dr. Rascher who is an Obersturmführer in the air-force, will take part in them." (ToWC, Vol. I, p. 144)

Rascher to Himmler, April 1942

Letter from SS-Untersturmführer Rascher to Reichführer-SS Himmler, 5 April 1942:

"Highly esteemed Reich Leader:

"Enclosed is an interim report on the low-pressure experiments so far conducted in the concentration camp of Dachau...

"Only continuous experiments at altitudes higher than 10.5 Km resulted in death. These experiments showed that breathing stopped after about 30 minutes, while in two cases the electrocardiographically charted action of the heart continued for another 20 minutes.

"The third experiment of this type took such an extraordinary course that I called an SS physician of the camp as a witness, since I had worked on these experiments all by myself. It was a continuous experiment without oxygen at a height of 12 Km. conducted on a 37-year old Jew in good general condition. Breathing continued up to 30 minutes. After 4 minutes the experimental subject began to perspire and to wiggle his head, after 5 minutes cramps occurred, between 6 and 10 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.

"Severest cyanosis developed in between and foam appeared at the mouth...

"Autopsy report

"One hour later after breathing had stopped, the spinal marrow was completely severed and the brain was removed. Thereupon the action of the auricle stopped for 40 seconds. In then renewed its action, coming to a complete standstill 8 minutes later. A heavy subarchnoid oedema was found in the brain. In the veins and arteries of the brain a considerable quantity of air was discovered." (ToWC, Vol. I, p. 144)

Rascher to Himmler, May 1942

Letter from SS-Untersturmführer Rascher to Reichsführer-SS Himmler, 11 May 1942:

"Highly esteemed Reich Leader,

"Enclosed I am forwarding a short summary on the principle experiments conducted up to date...

"For the following experiments Jewish criminals who had committed race pollution were used. The question of the formation of embolism was investigated in 10 cases. Some of the experimental subjects died during a continued high-altitude experiment; for instance, after one-half hour at the height of 12 Km. After the skull had been opened under water an ample amount of air embolism was found in the brain vessels and, in part, free air in the brain ventricles.

"To find out whether the severe psychic and physical effects, as mentioned under No. 3, are due to the formation of embolism, the following was done: After relative recuperation from such a parachute descending test had taken place, however, before regaining consciousness, some experimental subjects were kept under water until they died. When the skull and the cavities of the breast and of the abdomen had been opened under water, an enormous amount of air embolism was found in the vessels of the brain, the coronary vessels, and vessels of the liver and the intestines, etc.

"It was also proved by experiments that air embolism occurs in practically all vessels even while pure oxygen is being inhaled. One experimental subject was made to breathe pure oxygen for 2.5 hours before the experiment started. After 6 minutes at a height of 20 Km, he died and at dissection also showed ample air embolism, as was the case in all other experiments." (ToWC, Vol. I, p. 152)

Source: The Nizkor Project