The Holocaust And Terrible Experiments Of Josef Mengele

The Holocaust, meaning “totally burnt,” was one of the most tragic events to ever occur in world history. It is considered an extreme form of genocide, which is a deliberate killing of large groups of people, especially of certain religious or ethnic groups. Centered in Eastern Europe, in places such as Germany, Poland, and the Ukraine, the Holocaust officially began in 1941, and didn’t end until 1945. 11 million Jews were captured and placed into concentration camps, and around 6 million were murdered by the political party known as the Nazi regime.

The Nazi party had officially come to power by 1913, using propaganda and terror to enforce their beliefs onto civilians. They believed that Germans were the supreme race, and that people of the Jewish religion should be exterminated because they were the sole cause for Germany losing WW1. Perhaps the biggest anti-Jew in all of Europe, Adolf Hitler, a German politician, rose to power along with the Nazi party, and was the reason for many of the horrific incidents that took place during the Holocaust. Because of his widespread popularity throughout eastern Europe, many believed in Hitler’s anti-semitic policies. Those who did believe in the Jewish religion were labeled as “low” and “evil”, and were blamed for many social and economical problems.

Citizens were labeled as Jews if three or more of their grandparents practiced the Jewish religion. So even if a citizen was openly catholic and practiced catholicism, they would still be labeled as a Jew, and still suffered the same consequences. In the time period before and during the Holocaust took place, Germany’s parlaiment was made entirely of Nazy perty members. They passed a list of laws called the Nuremberg Laws in September of 1935; these laws took away the Jewish people's’ rights in Germany. They also protected the German blood and honor. Because of laws such as these, Jews had to wear badges to identify themselves as Jewish, and would not be welcomed into German schools and other public places. These laws are very similar to the future segregation laws that would be passed in America during the 1950s and 60s. The Nuremberg Laws caused many people of the Jewish denomination to “switch over” to Catholicism, and hide their religion in order to try and keep their families together.

Many people believe that the Holocaust was all about racism against the Jewish. Though this is very true, other groups were also prosecuted. Hitler and his Nazi regime also encaptured twins, homosexuals, the disabled, and the mentally ill. It was also very popular to perform experiments on these people in the concentration camps, since they were labeled as different by Adolf Hitler and his party. The most popular experiments were done on twins, because the Nazis wanted to create more of the “superior race,” or the Germans. They wanted to create more humans with the perfect German appearance.

Special death camps were constructed for the mass destruction of the Jewish race and the enrapturement of certain groups; these were called concentration camps. Victims were ripped from their homes and thrown onto cattle trucks, which transported them to the camps. Life in a concentration camp was a “living hell”. Prisoners were stripped of their clothing, and were given old, tattered clothes, labeling them as Jews and others who were different from the rest of society. The camps lacked flooring, heating, and proper roofs. There was almost always a shortage of water and sanitary facilities. The soiled straw mattresses used as bedding by the prisoners only helped to spread diseases. The concentration camps were also infested with rats, bugs, and other vermin.

Food was scarce in the camps as well. Most were only given a small chunk of bread and watery soup to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Healthy prisoners were forced to work at least 10 hours a day, some even dying out in the fields of pure exhaustion and malnourishment. Those who decided to sit down and take a break from their daily work, tried to escape, or were accused of trying to aid escapees, were publicly hanged and killed in the camps in front of the rest of the prisoners. Later on, the Nazi soldiers decided to mass murder the Jews in the concentration camps by using poisonous gas chambers. Victims were ordered to strip down and walk into a dark, enclosed building to “just take a shower.” Poisonous gas was then released onto them, killing every person in the room within only fifteen minutes. All of the dead bodies were then pushed and piled up into huge furnaces, where they were just burnt to ashes.

From 1933 to 1945, Germany was on a mission to cleanse the German population of those who were “un-German.” The individuals who were targeted were accused of ruining the nation’s biological health, and tainting the German bloodline. This is what the main goal of the concentration camps were for; mass genocide. Although million were killed in the camps, some were kept aside for experimentation purposes. Politicians who were part of the Nazi party hired physicians, geneticists, psychiatrists, and anthropologists to direct and carry on with these experiments. There were three main reasons for the experimentations; to test products for the aid of military personnel survival, to test drugs and treatments, and to advance the Nazi and German racial and ideological goals. For each and every experiment and test conducted in the Nazi concentration camps, innocent humans were taken against their will and performed on, and used as test subjects.

Experiments dealing with the advancement of military technology involved throwing innocent people into danger. Many experiments were carried out by the German Air Force, for they wanted to test parachutes. They wanted to see what altitude the parachutes would allow them to float back down to safety. To test this, victims were given untested parachutes and thrown out of airplanes. It was also popular to freeze individuals to test out methods for treating hypothermia. One of the most popular concentration camps to undergo these types of experiments was a concentration camp called Dachau. Dachau was known for specifically imprisoning homosexuals and performing tests on them. Physicians from the German Air Force and the German Experimental Institution for Aviation stationed in Dachau were the leaders of these types of experiments.

Many other experiments were carried out to test new drugs aimed to treat military and occupational illnesses, diseases, and injuries. These experiments were done at Jewish concentration camps such as Sachsenhausen, Natzweiler, and Buchenwald by the Nazi police force under Hitler’s reign. Inmates were used to test brand new and usually unsafe vaccinations for very contagious diseases such as malaria, typhus, tuberculosis, yellow fever, and hepatitis. They were exposed to many substances and unknown diseases in order to see if those substances would harm the Nazis in any way. Homosexuals and Gypsies were also taken hostage by the Nazi police force and were used for testing by being exposed to new technologies involving mustard gas. They were trying to create the fastest-killing mustard gas in order to carry out the mass murdering of the Jewish population.

The largest reason for carrying out extensive tests and experiments during the Holocaust was to enhance the Nazi German idealocial and racial goals. Hitler wanted to create the most perfect communist society where everyone was the same; strong men and women with the blond hair and bright blue eyes. To do this, scientists conducted numerous experiments on sets of twins. With twins, they wanted to see if they could easily duplicate the traits that were most desired by Hitler.

The most infamous person to carry out these twin experiments was Doctor Josef Mengele of Auschwitz. Josef was born on March 16, 1911, in Günzburg, Germany. In 1935, he obtained a PhD in physical anthropology from the University of Munich and a doctorate degree in genetic medicine. By 1937, he became the assistant of Dr. Otmar von Verschuer at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene, and joined the Nazi Party Regime. Mengele earned his medical degree in 1938, and then drafted into the army in 1940. After he was wounded along the Eastern Front of WWII, Josef finally returned to Germany in 1943, and was transferred to Auschwitz only a few months later.

Mengele began his career in the concentration camps when he accepted a new position as Chief Camp Physician of Auschwitz II, which was also known as Birkenau. He was responsible for picking which prisoners were fit for working, and those who would die immediately in gas chambers. For this, he was known as the “Dark Angel” because of his cruelty towards the prisoners. Mengele was notorious for sneaking off duty to look for twins by observing the trainloads of people entering the camp, for he and his former mentor, Dr. Otmar von Verschuer, were interesting in performing medical experiments on them. Now, with a license that allows him to maim and kill his patients, Josef Mengele began torturing sets of twins in painful and agonizing experiments. He would connect brain stimulators to each twin, separate them, and torture one of them in order to see if the other could feel the same pain. He also performed open brain surgeries on the twins without any painkillers.

Dr. Mengele was particularly fascinated with heterochromia, or the genetic disorder of having two different eye colors, and also wanted to create a way to artificially generate certain eye colors. Mengele often mercilessly gouged out patients’ eyes in order for “scientific research,” leaving many patients completely blind. On top of this, he performed experiments on Jews and Gypsies to show that they were more susceptible to diseases than Nazi Germans. He also captured many mentally and physically disabled persons in order to research their oddities. Mengele performed gruesome experiments by collecting and analyzing blood, sample tissues, and even whole body appendages, often amputating and immobilizing patients. A great number of his “test subjects” were mutilated and brutally murdered from his experiments, or were killed in order to perform post-death examinations and autopsies.

Only about 200 individuals survived Dr, Josef Mengele and Dr. Otmar von Verschuer’s experiments, two of which were twins Renate and Rene Guttmann. They were born on December 21, 1937 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Shortly before they were born however, their parents were forced to flee Germany in order to escape the Nazi Police. They lived in a very small and poor apartment in Prague, yet they were very clean and proper. Their lives were forever changed when the German Army occupied Czechoslovakia. Just before the twins turned six, Renate and Rene were sent to Auschwitz, and separated from each other and their family.

Renate was used as one of Dr. Josef Mengele’s test subjects while staying at the Auschwitz concentration camp. She was taken immediately to a hospital where her personal statistics were taken. Renate had x-rays taken of her, and blood was drawn straight from her neck. Renate says that she was once strapped to a table and cut open with a knife, feeling every bit of it. She was given unknown injections, many of which made her throw up or have diarrhea. After one of her injections, Renate became very ill and was taken to the hospital’s intensive care unit. There, the nurse who was caring for Renate hid her underneath one of her long skirts, and she kept quiet until she could escape. Renate miraculously survived Dr. Mengele’s experiments at Auschwitz, and was eventually reunited with her twin brother Rene in 1950.

After WWII, when Germany was liberated by the Allied forces, and the Holocaust was put to a stop, the Nazi Police force members, communist dictators, and doctors were punished. While many tried to flee in order to survive, most were put on trial. One such trial was called the “Doctor’s Trial”. On December 9, 1946, the American military opened criminal proceedings on twenty-three of the leading German physicians, scientists, and doctors involved in the Holocaust. The Chief of Council during the Doctor’s Trial was Brigadier General Telford Taylor; he opened it with the statement, “The defendants in this case are charged with murders, tortures, and other atrocities committed in the name of medical science. The victims of these crimes are numbered in the hundreds of thousands. A handful only are still alive; a few of the survivors will appear in this courtroom. But most of these miserable victims were slaughtered outright or died in the course of the tortures to which they were subjected. For the most part they are nameless dead. To their murderers, these wretched people were not individuals at all. They came in wholesale lots and were treated worse than animals'.

Officials finally decided on a process for which the convicted were charged by. This was called the “Euthanasia Program”. The Euthanasia Program was basically a process where the court would weigh the crimes of the convicted individual, and prosecute the individuals who were “unworthy of life”.

The Holocaust is quite possibly the most gruesome and inhumane event to ever occur in human history. Not only were hundreds of thousands of families separated, billions captured, and millions killed, but countless men, women, and children suffered. The experiments that were conducted on vulnerable individuals in concentration camps were horrific and evil, and helped to worsen the effects of the Holocaust on society.  

16 December 2021
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