Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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The Experimental Impulse 
Yet there too harmful experiments were done. Bruno Weber, the chief of the Hygienic Institute,* determined blood groups on certain inmates and injected some with blood from different blood groups in order to study the degree of the resultant harmful agglutination of blood cells. More serious than these results were the consequences of collecting blood, whether for this or other experiments or for use in transfusions for German personnel. Not only was the blood at times collected from very weak inmates, but it was sometimes done cruelly or even murderously, by entering the carotid artery in a few prisoners and causing them to bleed to death. Dr. Michael Z. described one SS noncommissioned officer, “house painter by trade, [who would take] from each patient 700, 800 and up to 1,000 cc. of blood,” and as a physician “doubted very seriously that any of these patients were able to withstand such bleedings.”

Dr. B. explained, probably truthfully, that the intent was to take blood needed for producing the serum for the various blood groups; and while he seemed to defend his chief, he admitted that Weber told SS men to “go to the camp, fetch yourselves a few fat capos, and tap [zapft] them” — with the result that the SS men did not limit themselves to well-nourished inmates but “tapped blood wherever they could get hold of it because it was much less work that way.”

In addition, prisoner doctors soon discovered that the Hygienic Institute was using human, rather than animal, muscle for its culture media. Dr. Marie L. told how, hearing the sound of executions across the courtyard (“the muffled ... shots we were all too familiar with”), she and others looked through the crevices of Block 10 windows and saw four women’s bodies removed; then about a half-hour later, “the bodies came back to their place, but they were mutilated [and] ... had cut [out of them] large areas deep into the flesh.” Dr. L. could confirm what inmates working in a lab had already suspected after noticing “in the culture media pieces of meat with hairless skin.” The simple conclusion: “Since the SS stole the meat used to produce the culture media, the chief SS physician of the Hygienic Institute found it very simple to replace it with human flesh.” Dr. Michael Z. told how the same SS noncommissioned officer who brutally took large amounts of blood from inmates would accompany Dr. Weber to executions and “bring back trunkfuls of human flesh to prepare the culture media.”

In Auschwitz, then, human flesh was more expendable than valuable animal meat; using it could seem an acceptable, even “sensible,” expression of Auschwitz “medical science.”

It turned out that Dr. Weber was involved in other fatal experiments, having to do with what Dr. B. described as “brainwashing with chemi- […cals]
* Langbein had the “impression that Weber was disgusted by the occurrences in Auschwitz, but nonetheless preferred stay in an extermination camp to service at the front. He constantly tried to emphasize the importance of his institute, for whose enlargement he invested all his energies.”47   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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