Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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The Experimental Impulse 
been a locus not only for the planning of murderous medical experiments but for the technology of mass murder in the death camps. And even in Auschwitz, that little Hygienic Institute laboratory on Block 10 was a frequent site for phenol killings (see chapter 14).

The Hygienic Institute on Block 10 is an especially concrete example of combined healing and killing. The same can be said of Wirths’s relatively benign and yet dangerous experiments on Block 10, discussed in chapter 15. The unusually constructive arrangements among prisoner physicians and SS doctors saved many lives, even as the malignant central designs (of Himmler, Mrugowsky, and Grawitz) combined with Auschwitz medical authority (of Wirths and Weber) in lethal experimentation and in supporting the killing project. 
Experimental Auschwitz  
Auschwitz applied most of its energies to killing people, but its openness to virtually any form of human manipulation inevitably resulted in a wide variety of additional experiments. Eduard Wirths, as chief doctor, was the Auschwitz sponsor and facilitator of most of these experiments, particularly those in which there was interest from Berlin at a higher level. An example here is the continuous experimental activity of SS Captain Dr. Helmuth Vetter, a key figure in pharmacological “trials” in Auschwitz and elsewhere. He was employed for many years with Bayer Group WII of the I. G. Farben Industry, Inc., Leverkusen, and, at Auschwitz, retained his connections. He ran medical trials for Bayer in Auschwitz and Mauthausen (and possibly in other camps) on several therapeutic agents, including sulfa medications and other preparations whose content is not exactly known.*

Vetter commuted between Auschwitz and Mauthausen in order to supervise the study of the effects of “ruthenol” and “3582” on many different serious medical conditions (typhus, typhoid, paratyphoid diseases, diarrhea, tuberculosis, erysipelas, and scarlet fever among others); but of the 150 to 250 patients he gave these medications to on the contagious disease ward in Auschwitz, about 50 were suffering from typhus. The impression of prisoner doctors was that these agents were of no therapeutic use, and some patients seemed to die quickly after receiving them. Vetter was reluctant to accept these negative findings, always insisting that better results had been obtained in other camps.50

Vetter drew other SS doctors into his research, including Eduard Wirths. The latter became not only what one observer called Vetter’s
* Among these preparations were ones numbered 3582 (a nitroacridine preparation), V1012, and ruthenol (a combination of preparation 3582 and arsenic acid).  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

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