The execution of Sigmund Rascher

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If there was ever any indication how warped the Nazi ideology was , it is probably best illustrated in the execution of Dr Sigmund Rascher.

Dr Sigmund Rascher was one of the most ruthless and brutal Nazi physicians in many ways even worse then Mengele.

Among the worst atrocities committed at the infamous Dachau concentration camp were the cruel and inhumane medical experiments, using prisoners as guinea pigs, conducted by Dr. Sigmund Rascher for the benefit of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force. From March 1942 until August 1942, Dr. Rascher performed high altitude experiments under the authority of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. The Nazi justification for these experiments was that this was done in an effort to save the lives of German pilots.

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Rascher also conducted so-called “freezing experiments” on behalf of the Luftwaffe, in which 300 test subjects were experimented upon without any consent. These were also conducted at Dachau after the high-altitude experiments had concluded. The purpose was to determine the best way of warming German pilots who had been forced down in the North Sea and suffered hypothermia.

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Rascher’s victims were forced to remain outdoors naked in freezing weather for up to 14 hours, or kept in a tank of icewater for three hours, their pulse and internal temperature measured through a series of electrodes. Warming of the victims was then attempted by different methods, most usually and successfully by immersion in hot water; at least one witness, an assistant to some of these procedures, later testified that some victims were thrown into boiling water for rewarming.

Rascher experimented with the effects of Polygal, a substance made from beet and apple pectin, which aided blood clotting.

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He predicted that the preventive use of Polygal tablets would reduce bleeding from gunshot wounds sustained during combat or during surgery. Subjects were given a Polygal tablet, and shot through the neck or chest, or their limbs amputated without anaesthesia. Rascher published an article on his experience of using Polygal, without detailing the nature of the human trials and also set up a company to manufacture the substance, staffed by prisoners.

In a normal society all these crimes would have been enough reason for a trial. But not in Nazi Germany. Since these crimes weren’t seen as crimes because they were conducted on “subhumans” and therefore were seen as bonafide medical experiments for the betterment of the Aryan race.

The one thing the Nazis didn’t like though was being lied to.

Attempting to please Himmler through demonstrating that population growth could be accelerated by extending female childbearing age, Rascher publicized the fact that his wife had given birth to three children even after reaching 48 years of age, and Himmler used a photograph of Rascher’s family as propaganda material. However, during her fourth “pregnancy,” Mrs. Rascher was arrested while attempting to kidnap a baby and an investigation revealed that her other three children had been either purchased or kidnapped. Himmler felt betrayed by this conduct, and Rascher was arrested in April 1944.

In addition to acting as an accessory in the kidnappings of the three infants, Rascher was also accused of financial irregularities, the alleged murder of his former lab assistant, (not clear who this was) and scientific fraud. Both Rascher and his wife were hastily condemned without trial to the concentration camps.

Rascher was imprisoned at Buchenwald following his arrest in 1944, until the camp’s evacuation in April 1945. He and other prisoners were then taken to Dachau where Rascher was executed by SS-Hauptscharführer Theodor Bongartz  on 26 April 1945, three days before the camp was liberated by American troops.

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The legacy of his experiments went on long after the war and were taken up by the allied troops and US Government.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/10/01/nazis-nasa-and-dachau/

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/11/05/hubertus-strughold-father-of-space-medicinebut-at-what-cost/

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