Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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The Experimental Impulse 
worked on Block 30, in the women's hospital in Birkenau, in a large room containing two extensive X-ray apparatuses and a small booth for him, which had a window and was, of course, insulated with lead plates to protect him from radiation.

Experimental subjects — relatively healthy young men and women in their late teens or early twenties, who had been obtained by a previous day’s order from the camps — were lined up in a waiting room and brought in one by one, often completely ignorant of what was to be done to them. Women were put between plates that pressed against abdomen and back; men placed penis and scrotum on a special plate. Schumann himself turned on the machines, which hummed loudly; and each “treatment” lasted “several minutes” according to Dr. Stanislaw Klodzinski, “five to eight minutes” according to Dr. Alma Brewda, another prisoner physician. Many of the women emerged with what Marie L. called “substantial burns,” which could become infected and take a long time to heal; and many quickly developed symptoms of peritonitis, including fever and severe pain and vomiting. Not long after the X rays, the women’s ovaries were removed surgically, usually in two separate operations. This was the operation performed mainly by Dering (see pages 246-49), and the method often used — a horizontal incision above the pubic area as opposed to a median laparotomy (abdominal opening) — carried the greater danger of infection. The ovaries were sent to laboratories to determine whether the X rays were effective in destroying tissue.30

As Dr. L. wrote, “There were deaths, there were complications, there were aggravations of pulmonary tuberculosis, given the absence of preliminary examination. There were pleurisies, long endless suppurations.” She observed also that the operations were performed “at a more and more accelerated pace,” so that Dering could eventually perform ten within two hours.31

Dr. Wanda J. was ordered to comfort the young Greek women being operated upon (“Greek children, because they were between sixteen and eighteen, … [already] like skeletons”) one after the other: the girls screaming and crying (“They called me Mother, [and] they thought I would save them but I couldn’t”) through the crude spinal tap and rough ten-minute surgery; the pathetic, childlike victim being carried out on a stretcher as the next one was brought in for the spinal tap. Dr. J. pointed out that Dering neglected to take the ordinarily obligatory step of applying a portion of the peritoneum (the membrane lining the abdominal cavity) as a flap to cover and protect the “stump” of the tube from which the ovary had been removed, and thereby contributed to later complications of bleeding and severe infection: “They were nine months in bed. I was doing the dressing all the time — and the smell, I can’t tell you. They were in a big room — only … eight of them, because two died.”

By then Schumann had lost interest in them (there was nothing more to find out concerning castration-sterilization), but Dr. J. had to go to considerable effort to keep them more or less hidden “because if Schu- […mann]  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
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