Is it acceptable to use data from Nazi medical experiments?

The question ‘Is it acceptable to use data from Nazi experiments?’ is one of the most difficult ethical questions to answer. At least for me it is, I am a man who bases a lot of his decisions on his gut feeling. In this case my gut feeling says no.

However if I keep my opinion of this devoid of all emotion, it throws up another question ‘Is it acceptable to use data from Nazi experiments, to safe someone in your family?’. In that case I more then likely would come to a different answer.

I am not going to tell anyone what their answer should be. I will just highlight some of the experiments and how they were conducted. But I’ll start with one experiment and its conclusion.

At the start of August 1942, at Dachau concentration camp, prisoners were forced to sit in tanks of freezing water for up to three hours. After subjects were frozen, they then underwent different methods for rewarming. Many subjects died in this process. The data of this experiment did reveal that body-temperature recovery was fastest with immersion in warm water, but that rewarming and presumably survival were achieved with the other methods, too.

The horizontal axis shows minutes, and the vertical axis temperature (°C). The German title can be translated as “Effect of combined rewarming treatment: warm bath, massage and light box.” The water temperature was 8°C. The arrows and numbers (1 to 6) were superimposed by the present author. Translations of the corresponding notations from the German are: 1, in water; 2, period out of bath (no German notation); 3, warm bath; 4, massage; 5, light box; and 6, response to speech (regaining of consciousness).

Sterilization Experiments: Himmler’s interest in Dr Clauberg’s Cell Block 10 was sterilization. He convinced Clauberg to begin experiments on reversing his infertility treatments and to discover ways to block the fallopian tubes. Clauberg redirected all of his energies toward the single goal of effective mass sterilization. Thousands of inmates had their genitals mutilated in order to discover cheap methods of sterilization. The Nazis hoped that these methods could ultimately be applied to millions of “unwanted” prisoners. Women at Auschwitz were sterilized by injections of caustic substances into their cervix or uterus, producing horrible pain, inflamed ovaries, bursting spasms in the stomach, and bleeding. Young men had their testicles subjected to large doses of radiation and were subsequently castrated to ascertain the pathological change in their testes.

Mustard gas experiments: Between September 1939 and April 1945, many experiments were conducted at Sachsenhausen, Natzweiler, and other camps to investigate the most effective treatment of wounds caused by mustard gas. Test subjects were deliberately exposed to mustard gas and other vesicants (e.g. Lewisite) which inflicted severe chemical burns. The victims’ wounds were then tested to find the most effective treatment for the mustard gas burn.

Poison Experiments: A research team at Buchenwald developed a method of individual execution through the intravenous injections of phenol gasoline and cyanide on Russian prisoners. The experiments were designed to see how fast the subjects would die.

Tuberculosis Experiments: The Nazis conducted experiments to determine whether there were any natural immunities to Tuberculosis (“TB”) and to develop a vaccination serum against TB. Doctor Heissmeyer sought to disprove the popular belief that TB was an infectious disease. Doctor Heissmeyer claimed that only an “exhaustive” organism was receptive to such infection, most of all the racially “inferior organism of the Jews.” Heissmeyer injected live tubercle bacilli into the subjects’ lungs to immunize against TB. He also removed the lymph glands from the arms of twenty Jewish children. About 200 adult subjects perished, and twenty children were hanged at the Bullenhauser Dam in Heissmeyer’s effort to hide the experiments from the approaching Allied Army.

Malaria experiments: Between February 1942 to about April 1945, experiments were conducted at the Dachau concentration camp in order to investigate immunization for treatment of malaria. Healthy inmates were infected by mosquitoes or by injections of extracts of the mucous glands of female mosquitoes. After contracting the disease, the subjects were treated with various drugs to test their relative efficacy. Over 1,200 people were used in these experiments and more than half died as a result .Other test subjects were left with permanent disabilities.

Malaria card of Father Bruno Stachowski from Claus Schilling’s research at Dachau. Approximately 1000 cards were kept back from destruction by the prisoner assistant Eugène Ost.

Epidemic Jaundice experiments: From about June 1943 to about January 1945 experiments were conducted at the Sachsenhausen and Natzweiler concentration camps, for the benefit of the German Armed Forces, to investigate the causes of, and inoculations against, epidemic jaundice. Experimental subjects were deliberately infected with epidemic jaundice, some of whom died as a result, and others were caused great pain and suffering.

Every prisoner of the regime was deemded to be a potential subject for inhuman research. Helpless victims, the inmates of psychiatric hospitals and concentration camps, were available for exploitation while alive. Leading scientists and professors took an active part in this ruthless abuse. Every university anatomical institute in Germany — and probably Austria — was the recipient of the cadavers of victims of Nazi terror, in particular, political victims executed by the Gestapo.

After the war, West Germany allowed Doctor Baron Otmar Von Verschuer to continue his professional career. Doctor Von Verschuer was the mentor, inspiration and sponsor of Mengele. After he executed his victims. Mengele would personally remove the victims’ eyes, while there were still warm, and ship them to Von Verschuer to analyze. n 1951, Verschuer was awarded the prestigious professorship of human genetics at the University of Münster, where he established one of the largest centers of genetics research in West Germany.

The question ‘Is it acceptable to use data from Nazi experiments?’ will remain a controversial one.

sources

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199005173222006

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4822534/

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/nazi-medical-experiments

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/epidemic-jaundice-experiments

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/medicine-and-murder-in-the-third-reich#3

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-ethics-of-using-medical-data-from-nazi-experiments#2

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The silent killer in WWII-An unexpected enemy.

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Of all the enemies Allied soldiers confronted during World War II, malaria proved to be among the most stubborn. The mosquito-borne disease was a constant scourge for soldiers stationed in the Pacific and Mediterranean theaters. General MacArthur’s retreat to the malarial Philippine peninsula of Bataan in early 1942 led directly to his sickly army’s surrender to the Japanese a few months later. The illness continued to cripple American forces during the ensuing campaigns in Papua New Guinea and Guadalcanal, where it was so rampant that a division commander ordered that no Marine be excused from duty without a temperature of at least 103°F.

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Troops in Southern Europe faced similar problems. During the Seventh Army’s Sicilian campaign from July to September 1943, 21,482 soldiers were admitted to the hospital for malaria; 17,535 were admitted for battle casualties. All in all, malaria accounted for almost a half-million hospital admissions and more than 300 American deaths during the war.

After some fits and starts, the military responded to the malaria outbreak with a full-out assault. The Army’s Medical Department dispatched malaria control units to war zones to clear and clean standing water and bombard malarial areas with recently developed insecticides like DDT and “bug bombs.” With access to quinine cut off by the Japanese conquest of Java, the government sped up trials of the anti-malarial medicine atabrine.

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Between 60 and 65 percent of Soldiers serving in the South Pacific reported having malaria at some point.  Reports indicate that some enlisted men would refuse to take the anti-malaria drug Atabrine because continual use turned the skin a sallow yellow color.  Atabrine was only partially effective to begin with, and Soldiers who stopped use were virtually unprotected.

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Despite side effects such as turning the skin yellow, millions of tablets of the drug were distributed to troops toward the end of the war.

Atabrine was not the only tool the Army used to fight the spread of malaria in the Pacific.  The fact that no one could ensure that all troops would take the medication consistently meant that additional measures needed to be taken to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible.  One of the most important and effective tools the Army had against malaria was the insecticide dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, more commonly known as DDT.

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Beginning in 1943, the Army began using DDT in a powdered form which was applied directly to soldiers and refugees in Italy, where a typhus epidemic was raging.  It was discovered that this treatment was highly effective against the lice that carried the disease.  The same powder was used in the Pacific as well, but the Army soon realized that DDT could also be useful against malaria.

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The military also warned soldiers about the dangers of the disease with an aggressive propaganda campaign that tried a variety of approaches, including patriotic appeals, racist caricatures, scare tactics, and goofy cartoons (including one drawn by the young Dr. Seuss). The campaign worked: Infection rates fell dramatically, and a healthier fighting force went on to claim victory in Europe and Asia.

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The Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) also did its part to help fight malaria among the servicemen in the PTO.  Stations of AFRS’s “Mosquito Network” in the South Pacific constantly reminded soldiers to take their Atabrine, and often injected humor into their broadcasts.  For instance, the station on Guadalcanal ran a program called “The Atabrine Cocktail Hour,” a show that aired each day at 1730 and featured fifteen minutes of “cocktail music” from “exotic” places like the “Fungus Festooned Fern Room” or the “Starlight Roof high atop the Hotel DeGrink in downtown Guadalcanal.”

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The only silver lining to the malaria problem was that the Japanese suffered just as much, if not more, than the Americans.  Estimates suggest that at times some Japanese units were 90% combat ineffective due to a combination of malaria and dysentery.  Fresh American troops, not yet infected, were most effective when used against Japanese forces that had been in the field for months; and the lack of medical provisioning led to even higher casualties among the Japanese.