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Mauthausen: Medical Experiments at KZ Gusen

Barracks No. 27 to 32 were used for the ill and unfit inmates of KZ Gusen Camp. All these barracks were located directly near the crematorium of KZ Gusen, where Dr. Kaminski was chief of Autopsia and chief prosecutor. Between 1940 and February 1944, medical help was forbidden to Jewish inmates. Also, no medical treatment was given to prisoners from the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1942. Neither Jewish inmates nor Soviet inmates received any narcotics in cases they were used for medical experiment there. The camp also had little medicine and no bandages. Prisoners had to use paper or other things for bandages. Furthermore, inmates that were infected by typhoid fever or tuberculosis were generally killed at KZ Gusen by heart-injections. For this they were isolated in a special part of Barrack No. 30 called "Graben" (ditch). In some cases, prior to killing these inmates, they were subjected to medical experiments. Starting in 1945, all inmates of Mauthausen Central Camp who suffered tuberculosis were sent to Gusen to die in Block No. 30. The barracks were used as follows:

Block 26: Logistics

Block 27: Pathological Unit (Dr. Helmut Vetter)

Block 28: Chirugical Unit (Dr. Toni Goscinski)

Block 30: Infected inmates (and "Graben" (ditch) = killings by heart injections)

Block 31: Infected inmates (and "Bahnof" (railway-station) = death-chamber; death by diarrhoae)

Block 32: Reconvalescent Inmates

The inmates who were sent to "Bahnhof" at Barrack No. 31 due to diarrhoea were refused any medical help. Neither the doctors, nor other prisoners entered this barrack. Even the little food was not brought into this barrack--it was only brought to the front entrance. From time to time the "Blockaelteste" entered the barrack to beat the starving inmates to death with a wooden stick. Between 1940 and 1942, the average weight of a KZ Gusen inmate was 42 kilograms (some of the inmates weighed only 28 to 36 kilograms). Between 1940 and 1942, the average survival period of KZ Gusen inmates was only 6 months. Due to the armament projects, the average survival period increased in 1943 and 1944 to 9 and 12 months, but it dropped rapidly again in 1945 due to the many deportations from other camps.

The KZ Gusen Pathological Museum

The Pathological Museum was accommodated in Block 27 and was used to display 286 specimen of human organs that were produced at KZ Gusen in connection with the Medical Academy of the SS at the University of Graz. The photograph shows hearts, lungs, kidneys, faces, skeletons and skulls of murdered KZ Gusen inmates. In some cases, inmates were only killed by heart-injections because of their anatomical "anomalies" . The Museum also had an album showing the tatooed skin of some of the inmates. Other "artwork" (lamp-shades and even furniture) was also produced in the Gusen camp. In 1944, three big crates with anatomical preparations were transferred to the SS Medical Agency at Graz.


SS - Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Helmut Vetter

As an employee of IG-Farben and Leverkusen, he carried out medical experiments with different sorts of medicine at KZ Gusen. He specialized in tuberculosis and experimented in 1944 with "Ruthenol" and "Praeparat 3582" at Block No. 27 of KZ Gusen I. These were similar to his experiments at KZ Auschwitz.

Dr. Herbert F. Heim

Besides his private experiments, he specialized in the production of preparations of human heads. Some of these preparations were shown in the KZ Gusen Pathological Museum. The others were sent to friends of Dr. Herbert Heim as special gifts or were used by Heim as weights on writing desks.

Dr. Eduard Krebsbach

Between October 1941 and Autumn 1943, he was Chief-Physician of the SS and the Police at Linz, Steyr, Wels and KZ Mauthausen-Gusen. He was the first to start mass-execution of ill and unfit prisoners by heart-injections. So he was nicknamed "Dr. Spritzbach" (Injection-Doctor) in the camps. In January 1942, 732 Spanish inmates and 571 Soviet inmates were exterminated by heart-injections at KZ Gusen Concentration Camp. In general, heart-injections were given at KZ Gusen Camp two times a week until April 1945. The career of Dr. Krebsbach ended at KZ Mauthausen-Gusen when he shot Josef Breitenfellner, a young man from Langenstein-Village who served in the German Army at that time and was home for vacation. Krebsbach shot this German soldier May 22, 1943, on vacation from his private house because he was disturbed by Breitenfellner and his friends. Due to this crime, Dr. Krebsbach was moved from KZ Mauthausen-Gusen to KZ Warwara where he led the selections along with the liquidation of that camp in August 1944. Later, he worked as the Inspector for Epidemies in the occupied countries of Lettland, Estland and Lithuania. The following SS-Doctors refused to give heart-injections at KZ Gusen:

  • Dr. J. Fried
  • Dr. B. Adolph
  • Dr. K. Boehmichen

Dr. Hermann Kieswetter and Dr. Hermann Richter

Carried out surgery on KZ Gusen inmates for no medical reason. To study the function of the human brain, Kiesewetter also carried out Trepanations with KZ Gusen inmates.

Sources: Gusen Memorial Committee