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Dachau Low-Temperature Medical Experiments

Report by SS-Untersturmf?hrer Rascher about intense cooling experiments in Dachau concentration camps, September 10, 1942:

The experimental subjects were placed in the water, dressed in complete flying uniform, winter or summer combination, and with an aviator's helmet. A life jacket made out of rubber kapok was to prevent submerging. The experiments were carried out at water temperatures varying from from 2.5 to 12 Centigrade. In one experimental series, the occiput (brain stem) protruded above the water, while in another series of experiments the occiput (brain stem) and back of the head were submerged in water.

Electrical measurements gave low temperature readings of 26.4 in the stomach and 26.5 in the rectum. Fatalities occurred only when the brain stem and the back of the head were also chilled. Autopsies of of such fatal cases always revealed large amounts of free blood, up to one-half litter, in the cranial cavity." (TWC, 220)

Work Cited

TWC. Trials of War Criminals Before the Nurenberg Military Tribunals - Washington, U.S Govt. Print. Off., 1949-1953, Vol. I

Letter from SS-Untersturmf?hrer Dr. Rascher to SS-Sturmbannf?hrer Rudolph Brandt, October 3, 1942:

The Reich leader SS wants to be informed of the state of the experiments. I can announce that the experiments have been concluded, with the exception of those on warming with body heat. The final report will be ready in about 5 days. Prof. Holzl?hner, for reasons I cannot fathom, does not himself want to make the report to the Reich Leader Himmler and has asked me to attend to it. This report must be made before 20 October, because the great Luftwaffe [German air-force] conference on freezing takes place on N?rnberg on 25 October. The report on the results of our research must be made there, to assure that they be used in time for the troops. May I ask you to arrange for a decision from the Reich Leader regarding the final report to him, and the submission to him of the relevant material?

Today I received your letter of 22 September 1942, in which the Reich Leader orders that the experiments on warming through body heat must absolutely be conducted. Because of incomplete address it was delayed. Today I asked Obersturmbannf?hrer Sievers to send a telegram to the camp commander immediately, to the effect that four Gypsy (Roma) (Roma) women be procured at once from another camp. Moreover, I asked SS Obersturmbannf?hrer Sievers to take steps to have the low pressure chamber ready for use. (Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals. Washington, U.S Govt. Print. Off., 1949-1953, Vol. I, p. 221-222)

Report by Prof. Dr. Holzl?hner, Dr. Rascher, and Dr. Finke, regarding cooling experiments, October 10, 1942:

If the experimental subject was placed in the water under narcosis, one observed a certain arousing effect. The subject began to groan and made some defensive movements. In a few cases a state of excitation developed. This was especially severe in the cooling of head and neck. But never was a complete cessation of the narcosis observed. The defensive movements ceased after about 5 minutes. There followed a progressive rigor, which developed especially strongly in the arm musculature; the arms were strongly flexed and pressed to the body. The rigor increased with the continuation of the cooling, now and then interrupted by tonic-clonic twitchings. With still more marked sinking of the body temperature it suddenly ceased. These cases ended fatally, without any successful results from resuscitation efforts. (Trials of War Criminals Before the Nurenberg Military Tribunals - Washington, U.S Govt. Print. Off., 1949-1953, Vol. I, p. 226-243)

Source: The Nizkor Project