|Healing-Killing Conflict: Eduard
|kill him.16 At that point
Wirthss emotions were undoubtedly affected by his own confusion, guilt,
and anxiety about the future.
| But prisoners' views of Wirths depended upon their
individual vantage points, and some were extremely critical of him, especially
of his experimental research.
Wirthss main research. concerned
pre-cancerous growths of the cervix (the outer portion of the uterus). It
involved, first, use of a then-new instrument, the colposcope, which was
inserted through the vagina, so that the cervix could be viewed first in its
natural state, and then after the application of certain substances (acetic
acid and an iodized compound). When certain changes were observed (questionable
cases were to be considered positive), the cervix was surgically removed and
sent to his brother's laboratory in Hamburg-Altona (under the supervision of
Hinselmann, Wirthss old professor and one of the first doctors to use the
colposcope) where the tissue was studied for pre-cancerous growths .
Wirthss brother, an already noted gynecologist, was involved in the work,
and since he did the surgery and held demonstrations for others, was considered
by some inmates to be its initiator.17
While, as Dr. Marie L. explained, at first sight this experiment
appear[ed] relatively harmless, that turned out to be far from the case:
the colposcopic examination was unreliable; moreover, it was unnecessary to
remove the entire cervix (a biopsy could have been done); and the poor
condition of Auschwitz inmates made for many complications, including
infections and hemorrhages, some of which either caused deaths or else left
patients sufficiently debilitated to be selected for the gas chamber. This
prisoner doctor was later to declare that Wirthss project equals
the other experiments in its, arbitrary nature and utter contempt
from Nazi minds without scruples.
survivor physicians condemned Wirths to me for the killing of Dr. Samuel, the
Jewish surgeon who combined pathos and arrogance in his close collaboration
with Wirths and other SS doctors under the illusion that it would enable him
and his daughter to survive (see pages 250-53). Both were killed, and
Samuels death in particular has been looked upon as a betrayal on the
part of Wirths in either giving the order or acceding to it. Thus Dr. Jan W.
insisted, The liquidation of Dr. Samuel said something about his
[Wirthss] character because Samuel collaborated with him for quite a long
time, and he made use of Samuels knowledge.
condemned Wirthss typhus experiments, which resulted in two fatalities;
and it was, in fact, the chief doctors secretary who made this
surreptitious episode more widely known (see pages 291-92).18
As physician survivors evaluated the
larger Auschwitz experience, their view of Wirths tended to become more
critical. Dr. Wanda J., despite being protected by him, spoke of him as having
been more clever than