Torture and Horrific Experiment during Holocaust

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

The Holocaust was horrific in many ways, one of these ways was the experiments that were conducted on the victims of the Holocaust in the name of science. All of the experiments conducted on victims during the Holocaust involved torturing these victims. The debate is if it is ethical to use this research in science and medicine today. It is unethical to use the research that was conducting during the Holocaust because the research was overall mostly unsuccessful and these experiments were simply ways that the Nazis could torture their victims further.

It is very important to address the fact that all of the experiments conducted on the victims of the Holocaust were simply another form of torture. Because of the beliefs of the Nazis and their theory of eugenics, they believed that they could do whatever they wanted towards these innocent people. Although some people may believe that these experiments could be helpful for science today, it is still important to recognize the torture the victims of these experiments endured. As said by Dr. Jay Katz, who is a professor of law and medicine at the Yale University School of Law,” However hard we might try, we cannot separate the data from the way they were obtained” (14).

Even if these experiments found out things that could be utilized in today’s world, doing so would completely undermine the human suffering that occurred in order to obtain these results in the first place. The experiments that could be deemed as helpful towards science could never possibly be repeated in an ethical manner. An important part of experiments and science is being able to repeat an experiment and get the same results. There is no way that a majority of the experiments on the victims of the Holocaust could be repeated because of how unethical they are. The only way they could possibly be viewed as being correct is if they were repeated with the same results. Since there is no way to do this ethically, the data found in these experiments can not be accepted as fact.

An example of one of the experiments that could be viewed as helpful towards modern science and medicine is the Dachau Hypothermia Experiment. This experiment was conducted in order to establish the best way to treat people who had been exposed to immersion hypothermia (5). The conditions of this experiment simulated the freezing water that German soldiers could encounter in the North Sea. The victims were forced into a tank of this freezing water for long periods of time in order to study how it would affect them. The results of this experiment showed how quickly it would take for its victims to die due to hypothermia and different methods to bring them back to a normal body temperature.

Although these experiments could possibly be helpful to study the effects of hypothermia on people, it is impossible to say that for sure because of how this experiment could never ethically be repeated. This same idea can also be shown in the Phosgene Gas Experiment. Phosgene gas was commonly used as a weapon during WWI and the Nazis wanted to find a cure for being exposed to it. In order to test this, they subjected fifty two prisoners to this gas, which caused most to develop lung problems and four of them to die (11).

Even though it would not be the exact same as humans, a better way to test the effects of phosgene gas is to test on animals. This is the method that the Environmental Protection Agency, also known as the EPA, takes in order to study this gas. Besides the inherent flaws of how this data was collected, not accounting for sex and weight, Lee Thomas, former EPA Chief Administrator, decided that,”Similar information could have been taken from other sources, like animal experiments and medical records of workers accidentally exposed to the gas” (12).

Although these sources would not give the exact results of phosgene’s effect on people, it would be a much more ethical way to acquire this data. A criticism of this is the idea that the use of this data could help to save people now. It is argued that this data could have helped people who live near phosgene processing plants and soldiers who are already putting their lives on the line (12). Although this research may seem like something that can help people, it is extremely unethical to undermine the people that were killed for this information.

The idea that this information could even be trusted in the first place brings up controversy of its own. Since this experiment can never be ethically replicated, who says that it can be trusted? It is impossible to know how many mistakes the Nazi doctors made in their research on this. While this information could have the potential to save lives, it could possibly do more harm than good if its source cannot be trusted. The importance of not being able to ethically repeat these experiments is that if they cannot be repeated now, then the data found in these studies should not be used.

Most of the experiments done during the Holocaust did not produce good results. The results of these experiments could also be flawed because of how the prisoners of the Holocaust were often times malnourished and sickly, which would be different then the soldiers these experiments were made for. The purpose of many of these experiments was to help the war effort of the time, even though the conditions of the victims were very different from the conditions of the German soldiers. The victims of the Holocaust were extremely malnourished and were forced to starve in the camps. The lack of nutrition they were receiving led to many diseases such as Beriberi, Pellagra, Marasmus, and even more (13).

All of these diseases were directly due to the lack of substance in the victims diets during the Holocaust. These diseases would be very painful and oftentimes lethal to the victims. This would be very different from German soldiers who were being fed well. Even though these soldiers may not have been eating as much as the average person should due to actively fighting a war, they were definitely being fed much more and being treated better than the victims of the Holocaust. One of the experiments conducted in order to help the war effort of the time was when victims were forced to only drink sea water for long periods of time. The purpose of this experiment was to show how drinking sea water for extended periods of time would affect Germany’s navy.

The torture of this experiment was so bad that the victims were observed,”…licking the mopped floors for moisture” (5). It is clear that this experiment’s true focus was to torture its victims. The effect of sea water on people could have easily been observed by looking at the German soldiers who had to be in these conditions, not prisoners who were already suffering from a lack of nutrients. It would most likely be easier to simply study records of people who had drank sea water in the past. Instead, the Nazis wanted to torture innocent people in the name of “science.”

Another problem with the experiments conducted during the Holocaust was that they often times did not have detailed reports that would allow this data to even be used today. The data that was found from many of these experiments was very unorganized and did not allow for solid conclusions to be made from it. The doctors that conducted the experiments could be seen as not actually having the proper medical experience that would allow them to successfully conduct these experiments.

An example of this can be seen with the tuberculosis experiments that were conducted by Doctor Heissmeyer. In this experiment, Heissmeyer was trying to disprove the widely accepted idea that tuberculosis was an infectious disease (12). Heissmeyer, like the rest of the Nazis, was a firm believer in eugenics and believed that only the Jewish people would be affected by this disease. In his study, he “injected live tubercle bacilli into the subjects’ lungs to immunize against TB” (12). His ideas on this already well known topic just show how ignorant he was to the field of immunology. He simply wanted to see what would happen to his victim’s bodies after injecting them to this disease.

This was not uncommon for the other doctors of the Nazis as well. These doctors were not concerned with actually helping these people and just wanted to see how their bodies would react to what they did to them. Going back to the Dachau Hypothermia Experiment, it can be seen that many different experiments conducted by the Nazis were overall very unorganized and unprofessional. In the hypothermia experiment, it is important to take note of the fact that the details of this study were not even specified in its report. The report of this study did not specify differences about,”the effects of age, clothed as compared with unclothed immersion, or nutritional state on the rate of body cooling” (9).

These details are considered very critical in modern science and medicine and should not have been left out of the report. The lack of details just goes to show the inconsistencies and unprofessional nature of the doctors conducting these experiments. As said by Brigadier General Telford Taylor, Chief Counsel for the prosecution at Nuremberg,”Those experiments revealed nothing which civilized medicine can use” (12). Most of the theories that were tested with these horrific experiments could be tested now in a much more ethical way. There are many ways that theories such as new medicine, research the effects of high altitude, and more could be tested without torturing innocent people.

Josef Mengele is an important person to pay attention to when looking at the experiments done by the Nazis. The experiments of Josef Mengele disproved the theory of eugenics, even though this was the opposite of his intentions. Like the rest of the Nazis, Mengele believed that the theory of eugenics accurately showed how the Jewish people were inferior to the Aryan race. In his research, he used twins in order to differentiate between genetic factors and factors from the environment. The twins that he used for his experiments were mostly children and he would always be looking for new sets of twins to conduct his research on.

The victims of these experiments were subjected to injections of unknown substances, surgeries without anesthesia, death, and more in order to prove that diseases and traits were linked to heredity instead of environment (4). He wanted to do this in order to prove that the Aryan race was superior to the Jews and the other people who were subjected to the horrors of Auschwitz. Since the theory of eugenics is false, Mengele was unable to prove these claims and instead fed into his torture fantesies to explore the human body. Mengele had done legitimate research using twins with his mentor, Dr. Otmar von Verschuer, back in the 1930s.

However, the nature of the the Holocaust and specifically Auschwitz, where his experiments occurred, gave Mengele free range to do whatever he wanted to his victims (3). Mengele did not have any empathy towards his prisoners which allowed him to torture them in order to satisfy his curiosity of things that could be done to the human body. The stories of the survivors of Mengele’s experiments truly show how terrible this torture was. Victims like Vera Kriegel and her twin sister Olga had to endure this suffering when they were only five years old. Because of Mengele they were,“…subjected to… being kept in a small wooden cage with her sister and being given painful injections in her back” (7).

Twins like Vera and Olga had to face extreme torture at the hands of Mengele simply to fullfil his own horrific fantasies. This example shows just how Mengele treated the twins like they were animals to be tested on. Mengele’s ruthless nature when it came to these twins was apparent through his lack of realization of what he was putting these children through. He truly did not think of these twins as actual people but instead thought of them as lab rats that he could test whatever he wanted on. When one of a set of twins ended up dying due to the torture Mengele had put them through, Mengele would kill the other twin as well as dissect both of them to see the differences between their bodies (1).

This shows the disrespect that Mengele had for the twins that he was torturing. Although it is obvious to point out that Mengele did not care about the wellbeing of his victims, his sadistic torture towards them simply emphasizes this. Another example of Mengele’s ruthless nature towards these victims didn’t come directly from one of his twins. On one instance in the camps when the doctors were arguing over if a boy in the camp had tuberculosis, Mengele settled the argument by simply killing the boy and dissecting him for signs of the disease, which there were none (6).

The extreme measures that Mengele took in this scenario show how vicious he was towards his prisoners. Mengele’s actions and how he treated his victims go back to his work being ethical because pure torture should not be considered science. His efforts towards “proving” eugenics just show that Mengele was so willing to prove something that wasn’t true that he was willing to kill thousands of innocent twins to do it. Although twin experiments had been used in the past in order to show differences between nature and nurture, Mengele abandoned ethics and research protocols in order to play into his sadistic fantasies (1). His ignoring of ethics in his experiments makes his research unethical to use because the use of his work would be extremely disrespectful towards the victims of Mengele’s work.

Cite this paper

Torture and Horrific Experiment during Holocaust. (2021, Dec 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/torture-and-horrific-experiment-during-holocaust/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out