I’m curious if any of Mengele’s research can be seen as forwarding some understanding of something with a positive result. Not trying to defend him btw, I need this for a story im writing.
This is not answering the OP. However, I hope you agree that this is on Topic. From the 30’s thru the 90’s there were really only 2 standards for advanced anatomy textbooks. “Gray’s Anatomy” being one and “Pernkopf’s Anatomy” the other.
In the post-war ear there was no doubt the Pernkopf, a Vienna U guy, had been about as big a Nazi as you could be & not be hung. That fact never affected the acceptance of his work. In the 90’s a charge, in letter to JAMA, was leveled that his work was based – at least a part from the 40’s – on pictures & drawings based on concentration camp victims.
The Austrian Government & Vienna U investigated the charge and said (essentially but using the %) that they were 99% certain that Pernkopf did not use Holocaust victims in his research.
However the controversy surrounding it never really went away (some ’30-‘40’s editions of the book were festooned with swastika’s and SS ‘bolts etc.) & it becomes hard to separate Pernkopf, who more or less led the purge of Jews from Vienna U in the late 30’s, even before the Anschluss he was a BIG Nazi & major Hitler fan, from his work
As far as I know, nothing whatsoever. As you might expect, what theorising there was about what he was doing tended to be eccentric at the best of times. As a similar example, it’s evident from the diary of Johann Paul Kremer (see KL Auschwitz Seen By The SS, Interpress, Warsaw 1991), one of Mengele’s medical colleagues in the camp, that Kremer’s “research” was based on a form of Lamarkian inheritence. On the subject in general, I’d recommend Robert Jay Lifton’s The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide (Basic, 1986).
The more awkward case is the research into freezing at Dachau, which has sometimes been cited in the postwar literature on hypothermia. From this page
Right, seconding bonzer, the “experiments” had way too many non-controlled variables to produce valuable data (ignoring the morality of the whole thing.) The conditions were far from controlled, the guards would torment the victims in different ways, for example, so that there is no statistical commonality among the various “data.”
great stuff so far guys/gals thanks. BTW I can fudge a little bit on the verifiablility/legitimacy of the research as long as the conclusions were true. Ahhh fiction!
On an aside: didn’t they find out lethal doses of poisons from the tests? How would we know how much cyanide or strychnine is fatal? I thought we had a lot more medical information coming from this sad period, but apparently not. Hmmm.
I suppose you could say they the Nazis learned how much zyklon-B one needed to kill a showerroom full of victms. And some of the real world limitations of industrial human slaughter houses. All useful facts for the studious maniacal killer.
But the nazis had no interest in preserving life, so data about “recovery” from trauma or illness under medical protocols is virtually non-existent.
And truth be told, to be fair to the nazis (?), controlled statistically valid clinical trials as a medical research tool, is a pretty recent phenomena. Virtualy all of the medical knowedge from that era, regardless of its source, was based on hearsay and anecdotal information. You’d be very hard pressed to point to ANY medical research from the 40’s or earlier that is still considered valid today.
As I understand it, most information on toxicity of poisons and the like is inferred from animal studies. If you find that it takes a gram of a substance per ten kilograms of body mass to kill a mouse, a pig, a monkey, and a horse, then it’s reasonable to suppose that it takes the same amount for a human. Some information probably also comes from police investigations of criminal poisonings.
I remembered hearing that we learned a lot about forensic ballistics close-range impact wounds from Mengele’s work.
Did the nazis experiment with X-ray dosages, or is that simply fiction from Leon Uris’ novel QB VII?
lol arken, I assume your kidding
According to Mengele: The Complete Story, by Gerald L. Posner and John Ware, Mengele did experiment with the X-rays that Rysdad mentioned. Also, I seem to recall from a different book that experiments with gunshot wounds might have been done at Auschwitz, but I’m not sure. In any case, very little information of practical value seems to have come directly from any experiments conducted by Nazi doctors during WWII. Mengele’s thing really seems to have been genetics, and he contributed nothing of worth to this field.
I understand from non-medical sources that the cold-immersion experiments mentioned by Bonzer were of some value to future doctors. The only other real medical advances I can think of that came directly from WWII involve starvation; evidently some of the people imprisoned in the Jewish ghettos were doctors who managed to learn some useful things during their ordeal. Sorry that I don’t have a cite for this last factoid.
Of course there were other scientists and doctors in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s who had little to do with the atrocities of the death camps; surely (I hope) at least some of them engaged in legitimate medical research. It should also be noted that most big wars seem to produce some medical advances; as we get better and better at killing and maiming each other, medical personel are forced to come up with new ways to preserve life.
No, KidCharlemagne, sadly I’m not. This is definately a FOAF-type story so take it with a grain of salt. I got it from a friend of mine who claimed he got it from his stepfather who used to be the coroner in this county (that last part I can vouch for having met the man).
According to my friend, the experiments that Mengele did where he shot people at close range have provided aid to forensic scientists today.
I suppose this is outside the scope of the question, since Mengele was mentioned specifically, but it does appear as though many hideously cruel human experiments performed by the Japanese during WWII did produce useful results. I can recall news reports from within the last decade that the American government promised amnesty in exchange for the experiment data.
Not so much a response to the OP, but you might find the discussion on this thread from a year ago useful: Using Nazi-derived test data from torture victims
I think the thing about Mengele’s ‘experiments’ was that the scientific community has been loathe to use the results for ethical reasons. From my (very limited) knowledge, while most of his stuff was the work of a complete fucking mad-man, there is some that could prove useful today (particularly some of his ‘work’ with twins) that cannot be replicated because of ethical constraints (and with good reason…HE had no such qualms).
Wasn’t it about 10-15 years ago that there was a proposal to release Mengele’s findings to the sci-world, but this was vetoed, not because of his methodology (which at times was exemplary) but because of the memory of the victims and the pain of the survivors?
I am of two minds about whether to make his results public. On one hand, I understand how this might seem like capitalizing on the misfortunes of others. Yet from a ‘clinical’ point of view, if there is information there that might help us increase our knowledge, then perhaps all that atrocity might not be in (total) vain?
- I think the thing about Mengele’s ‘experiments’ were that the Jewish political community protests heavily every time the results are considered for any use. This may have been the source of the other SD thread mentioned: some time ago, a researcheer wanted to heavily re-analyze all the material from the hypothermia experiments to try to find anything useful in them. His argument at the time was basically that it has already happened, so whatever valuable information that can be drawn from it should be. Various Jewish organizations protested on many fronts- that it shouldn’t involve government funding, that it shouldn’t be published in any respectable medical journals, that it shouldn’t be taught or used as examples in any medical schools, and on and on and on. The story appeared on the news outlets (papers, TV) in St. Louis, but I don’t remember the researcher being local.
- I have no opinion on the subject (of use of the reasults, that is) either way, but as there are still persons living who escaped/survived the camps, I can kinda understand why they’d object. - DougC
Not Mengele, but similar…
Unit 731, the Japanese medical research program, also did frostbite experiments on Chinese and Russian prisoners. They reached the same results as the Germans, that warming the frozen limbs in 37[sup]o[/sup]C water was more effective than rubbing or other tradition means of treatment.
Hal Gold’s Unit 731: Testimony. Came closer to making me lose my lunch than any other book.