|Born|| 12 February 1909|
|Died|| 26 April 1945 36) (aged|
Dachau concentration camp
|SS paramilitary career|
Sigmund Rascher (12 February 1909 – 26 April 1945) was a German SS doctor. He conducted deadly experiments on humans about high altitude, freezing and blood coagulation under SS leader Heinrich Himmler’s patronage, to whom his wife Karoline “Nini” Diehl had direct connections. When police investigations uncovered that the couple defrauded the public with their supernatural fertility by ‘hiring’ and kidnapping babies, she and Rascher were arrested in April 1944. He was accused of financial irregularities, murder of his former lab assistant, and scientific fraud, and brought to Buchenwald and Dachau before being executed. After his death, the Nuremberg Trials judged his experiments as inhumane and criminal.
The Schutzstaffel was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in Nazi Germany, and later throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II. It began with a small guard unit known as the Saal-Schutz made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for party meetings in Munich. In 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit, which had by then been reformed and given its final name. Under his direction (1929–45) it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany. From 1929 until the regime's collapse in 1945, the SS was the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror within Germany and German-occupied Europe.
Nazi human experimentation was a series of medical experiments on large numbers of prisoners, including children, by Nazi Germany in its concentration camps in the early to mid 1940s, during World War II and the Holocaust. Chief target populations included Romani, Sinti, ethnic Poles, Soviet POWs, disabled Germans, and Jews from across Europe.
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel, and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Germany. Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and among those most directly responsible for the Holocaust.
Sigmund Rascher was born the third child of Hanns-August Rascher (1880–1952) a physician and avid follower of Rudolf Steiner.[ citation needed ] Therefore, Rascher attended the first Waldorf School, a school based on Steiner's anthroposophist approach to education. He came under the influence of Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, who believed in the influence of cosmic rhythms on life processes. He completed his secondary education, the German Abitur in Konstanz in 1930 or 1931—he used both dates.
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.
Ehrenfried Pfeiffer was a German scientist, soil scientist, leading advocate of biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophist and student of Rudolf Steiner.
In 1933, he began to study medicine in Munich, where he also joined the NSDAP. The exact day of his joining is uncertain: Rascher insisted that it was on 1 March, whereas documents show 1 May. This is relevant in that the first date is 4 days before the Nazi victory in the German national election, March 1933, whereas the second date is after Hitler had consolidated power on 23 March with his Enabling Act.
Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.
Munich is the capital and most populous city of the second most populous German federal state of Bavaria, and, with a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city of Germany after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.
After his medical internship, Rascher worked with his now divorced father in Basel, Switzerland, and continued his medical studies there, joining the Swiss Voluntary Work Forces. In 1934, he returned to Munich to finish his studies, and received his doctorate in 1936.[ citation needed ] In May 1936, Rascher joined the SA .[ citation needed ] From 1936 to 1938 Rascher worked on cancer diagnostics, supported by a DFG stipend under Prof. Trumpp in Munich.[ citation needed ] Until 1939 he was an assistant physician at Munich's hospital Schwabinger Krankenhaus. [ page needed ]
Basel is a city in northwestern Switzerland on the river Rhine. Basel is Switzerland's third-most-populous city with about 180,000 inhabitants.
A doctorate or doctor's degree or doctoral degree is an academic degree awarded by universities that is, in most countries, a research degree that qualifies the holder to teach at the university level in the degree's field, or to work in a specific profession. There are a variety of doctoral degrees, with the most common being the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which is awarded in many different fields, ranging from the humanities to the scientific disciplines.
The Sturmabteilung, literally Storm Detachment, was the Nazi Party's original paramilitary. It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s. Its primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, especially the Red Front Fighters League of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and intimidating Romanis, trade unionists, and, especially, Jews – for instance, during the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.
In 1939, Rascher transferred to the SS with the rank of Private.[ citation needed ]
In 1939 Rascher denounced his father, and was conscripted into the Luftwaffe. A relationship with and eventual marriage to former singer Karoline "Nini" Diehl gained him direct access to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. Rascher's connection with Himmler gave him immense influence, even over his superiors.Though it is unclear as to the precise nature of Diehl's connection to Himmler, she frequently corresponded with him and interceded with him on her husband's behalf; it is suggested that Diehl may have been a former lover of Himmler.
A week after first meeting Himmler, Rascher presented a paper, "Report on the Development and Solution to Some of the Reichsfuehrer's Assigned Tasks During a Discussion Held on April 24, 1939".Rascher became involved in testing a plant extract as a cancer treatment. Kurt Blome, deputy of the Reich Health Leader and Plenipotentiary for Cancer Research in the Reich Research Council, favoured testing the extract on rodents, but Rascher insisted on using human test subjects. Himmler took Rascher's side and a Human Cancer Testing Station was established at Dachau. Blome worked on the project.
Rascher suggested in early 1941, while a captain in the Luftwaffe's Medical Service, that high-altitude/low-pressure experiments be carried out on human beings.While taking a course in aviation medicine at Munich, he wrote Himmler a letter in which he said that his course included research into high-altitude flight and it was regretted that no tests with humans had been possible as such experiments were highly dangerous and nobody volunteered for them. Rascher asked Himmler to place human subjects at his disposal, stating quite frankly that the experiments might prove fatal, but that previous tests made with monkeys had been unsatisfactory. The letter was answered by Rudolf Brandt, Himmler's adjutant, who informed Rascher that prisoners would be made available.
Rascher subsequently wrote back to Brandt, asking for permission to carry out his experiments at Dachau, and plans for the experiments were developed at a conference in early 1942 attended by Rascher and members of the Luftwaffe Medical Service. The experiments were carried out in the spring and summer of the same year, using a portable pressure chamber supplied by the Luftwaffe. The victims were locked in the chamber, the interior pressure of which was then lowered to a level corresponding to very high altitudes. The pressure could be very quickly altered, allowing Rascher to simulate the conditions which would be experienced by a pilot freefalling from altitude without oxygen. After viewing a report of one of the fatal experiments, Himmler remarked that if a subject should survive such treatment, he should be "pardoned" to life imprisonment. Rascher replied to Himmler that the victims had to date been merely Poles and Russians, and that he believed they should be given no amnesty of any sort.
Rascher also conducted so-called "freezing experiments" on behalf of the Luftwaffe on 300 test subjects without their consent. US investigators later concluded that Rascher had been merely a convenient front for Luftwaffe chief surgeon Erich Hippke, who had been the true source of the ideas for Rascher's experiments.The experiments were 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. 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.
Himmler attended some of the experiments, and told Rascher he should go to the North Sea region and find out how ordinary people there warmed victims of extreme cold. Himmler reportedly said he thought "that a fisherwoman could well take her half-frozen husband into her bed and revive him in that manner" and added that everyone believed "animal warmth" had a different effect than artificial warmth.Four Romani women were sent from Ravensbrück concentration camp and warming was attempted by placing the hypothermic victim between two naked women.
In October 1942, results of the experiments were presented at a medical conference in Nuremberg in two presentations named "Prevention and Treatment of Freezing", and "Warming Up After Freezing to the Danger Point".
Rascher, who had by now been transferred to the Waffen-SS, was eager to obtain the academic credentials necessary for a high-level university position. A habilitation which was to be based on his research failed, however, at Munich, Marburg, and Frankfurt, due to the formal requirement that results be made available for public scrutiny.
Similar experiments were conducted from July to September 1944, as the Ahnenerbe provided space and materials to doctors at Dachau to undertake “seawater experiments”, chiefly through Wolfram Sievers. Sievers is known to have visited Dachau on 20 July 1944, to speak with Kurt Plötner and the non-Ahnenerbe Wilhelm Beiglboeck, who ultimately carried out the experiments.
While at Dachau, Rascher developed the standard cyanide capsules, which could be easily bitten through, either deliberately or accidentally.
Rascher experimented with the effects of Polygal, a substance made from beet and apple pectin, which aided blood clotting. 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.
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. An investigation later revealed that her other three children had been either purchased or kidnapped. Himmler felt betrayed, 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 murder of his former lab assistant, 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 firing squad on 26 April 1945, three days before the camp was liberated by American troops. In another first hand account a fellow SS officer witnessed Rascher's execution by SS-Hauptscharführer Theodor Bongartz on Himmler's direct order by shooting him through the cell observation and food delivery door, then kicking his body with the words 'You pig, now you've got the punishment you deserve'.
After his death, the Nuremberg Trials judged his experiments as inhumane and criminal.
Karl Brandt was a German physician and Schutzstaffel (SS) officer in Nazi Germany. Trained in surgery, Brandt joined the Nazi Party in 1932 and became Adolf Hitler's escort doctor in August 1934. A member of Hitler's inner circle at the Berghof, he was selected by Philipp Bouhler, the head of Hitler's Chancellery, to administer the Aktion T4 euthanasia program. Brandt was later appointed the Reich Commissioner of Sanitation and Health. Accused of involvement in human experimentation and other war crimes, Brandt was indicted in late 1946 and faced trial before a U.S. military tribunal along with 22 others in United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et al. He was convicted, sentenced to death, and later hanged on 2 June 1948.
Dachau concentration camp was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in 1933, intended to hold political prisoners. It is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory northeast of the medieval town of Dachau, about 16 km (10 mi) northwest of Munich in the state of Bavaria, in southern Germany. Opened by Heinrich Himmler, its purpose was enlarged to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, German and Austrian criminals, and eventually foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded. The Dachau camp system grew to include nearly 100 sub-camps, which were mostly work camps or Arbeitskommandos, and were located throughout southern Germany and Austria. The camps were liberated by U.S. forces on 29 April 1945.
The Doctors' trial was the first of 12 trials for war crimes of German doctors that the United States authorities held in their occupation zone in Nuremberg, Germany, after the end of World War II. These trials were held before US military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials", formally the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).
The Ahnenerbe was a think tank that operated in Nazi Germany between 1935 and 1945. It was an appendage of the Schutzstaffel (SS) and had been established by Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer of the SS. It was devoted to the task of promoting the racial doctrines espoused by Adolf Hitler and his governing Nazi Party, specifically by supporting the idea that the modern Germans descended from an ancient Aryan race which was biologically superior to other racial groups. The group comprised scholars and scientists from a broad range of academic disciplines.
Helmut Vetter was an SS-Hauptsturmführer and a Nazi war criminal.
Rudolf Hermann Brandt was a German SS officer from 1933–45 and a civil servant. A lawyer by profession, Brandt was the Personal Administrative Officer to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and a defendant at the Doctors' Trial at Nuremberg for his part in securing the 86 victims of the Jewish skeleton collection, an attempt to create an anthropological display of plaster body casts and skeletal remains of Jews. He was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and executed in 1948.
Karl August Genzken was a Nazi physician who conducted human experiments on prisoners of several concentration camps. He was a Gruppenführer of the Waffen-SS and the Chief of the Medical Office of the Waffen-SS. Genzken was tried as a war criminal in the Doctors' Trial at Nuremberg.
Karl Franz Gebhardt was a German medical doctor and a war criminal during World War II. He served as Medical Superintendent of the Hohenlychen Sanatorium, Consulting Surgeon of the Waffen-SS, Chief Surgeon in the Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police, and personal physician to Heinrich Himmler.
Kurt Blome was a high-ranking Nazi scientist before and during World War II. He was the Deputy Reich Health Leader (Reichsgesundheitsführer) and Plenipotentiary for Cancer Research in the Reich Research Council. In his autobiography Arzt im Kampf, he equated medical and military power in their battle for life and death.
Gerhard August Heinrich Rose was a German expert on tropical medicine. Participating in Nazi human experimentation at Dachau and Buchenwald, he infected Jews, Romani people, and the mentally ill with malaria and typhus. Sentenced to life in prison, he was released in 1953.
Hubertus Strughold was a German-born physiologist and prominent medical researcher. Beginning in 1935 he served as chief of aeromedical research for the Luftwaffe, holding this position throughout World War II. In 1947 he was brought to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip and held a series of high-ranking medical positions with both the US Air Force and NASA.
Allach porcelain a.k.a. Porzellan Manufaktur Allach was produced in Germany between 1935 and 1945. After its first year of operation, the enterprise was run by the SS with forced labor provided by the Dachau concentration camp. The emphasis was on decorative ceramics —objects d'art for the Nazi regime. The company logo included stylized SS runes. Sometimes in place of the company name, the pottery markings mentioned the SS: "DES
Friedrich Karl Freiherr von Eberstein was a member of the German nobility, early member of the Nazi Party, the SA, and the SS. He was elected to Reichstag and held the position of the chief of the Munich Police during the Nazi era. Eberstein was a witness at the Nuremberg Trials.
Claus Karl Schilling, also recorded as Klaus Schilling, was a German tropical medicine specialist who participated in the Nazi human experiments at the Dachau concentration camp during World War II.
Wilhelm Hermann Pfannenstiel was a German physician, member of the Nazi Party from 1933,, and SS officer from 1934,. In August 1942 he witnessed, together with Kurt Gerstein, the gassing of Jews in Bełżec extermination camp. He may also share responsibility with other SS officials in criminal medical experimentations on unwilling and uninformed human beings, mainly Jews prisoners in Dachau concentration camp.
The SS Medical Corps was a formation within the SS of professional doctors who provided medical services for the SS, including experiments on and the development of different methods of murdering prisoners. Members of the SS Medical Corps also served on the front with the Waffen-SS as support personnel practicing field expedient medicine on wounded members of the SS.
Hermann Becker-Freyseng was a German physician and consultant for aviation medicine with the Luftwaffe during the Nazi era. He was recognised as a leading specialist in aviation medicine. Becker-Freyseng was one of those convicted at the Doctors' Trial.
Prof. Dr.med. Erich Hippke was a German Air Force General Surgeon with the rank of Generaloberstabsarzt. He is most noted as Chief Medical Officer of Luftwaffe and subsequent Inspector of the Medical Matters of Luftwaffe during World War II.
Unethical human experimentation is human experimentation that violates the principles of medical ethics. Such practices have included denying patients the right to informed consent, using pseudoscientific frameworks such as race science, and torturing people under the guise of research. Around World War II, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany carried out brutal experiments on prisoners and civilians through groups like Unit 731 or individuals like Josef Mengele; the Nuremburg Code was developed after the war in response to the Nazi experiments. Countries have carried out brutal experiments on marginalized populations. Examples include American abuses during Project MKUltra and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, and the mistreatment of indigenous populations in Canada and Australia. The Declaration of Helsinki, developed by the World Medical Association (WMA), is widely regarded as the cornerstone document on human research ethics.