Did the Nazi medical experiments later turn out to be useful?

I’ve heard this factoid bantered about over the years, but I can’t really cite a specific reference–some Discovery channel show might be the closest I could get. In any case, was it true that US doctors, particularly US military doctors, found (and used) a gold mine of information in the Nazi death camp doctors’ records? How long a person can survive in frigid water, what the effects he or she will suffer as a result of depressurization, that kind of thing. Is it true that modern treatments for hypothermia and other conditions trace back to the Nazi doctors?


Take a gander at this previoust thread about Josef Mengele

Recently I saw a speaker from the National Holocaust museum. She had said that they did learn some things about hypothermia from their experiments, that were later used. I guess most of the “benefits” were in the pharmaceutical industry, and benefited some of the German phamacies. She also said that the Nazi doctors and their tests are often used as examples in ethics classes in med school. BTW, I think Mengele did more experiments on twins (I don’t know if this was on the other thread, because I didn’t read it all).

Eh, one factoid that I’ve had floating around in my head for years is that the Nazis were the ones who established conclusively that you couldn’t cross humans and dogs. No details on how exactly they accomplished this; the brain balks at visualizing it.

A quick check of Google shows 535 hits on “Nazi hypothermia”, most if not all of them having to do with the ethics of using the Nazi data.

A friend of mine who is a former coroner and forensic pathologist once told me that the nazi studies on bullet impacts (the bastards would shoot people and then prod the holes to see what happened) are the basis for a lot of modern forensic knowledge of bullet wounds.

As a scientist, I can add a little to this.

From what I’ve heard, they were terrible scientists. An important part of experimentation is controlling for effects other than what you’re looking for. Apparently, the Nazis were pretty lax on the positive and negative controls in their experiments. Also, the twin experiments were little more than seeing which twin would die first when exposed to some horrific condition.

Not surprising they were terrible scientists since they were terrible human beings as well.

As we know, the Nazis lost or expelled many good sientists. One result was what Jk said (I realize the apparent cynicism of my statement).
As far as hypothermia, their contribution was negligible: very little results or inadequate experiments survived. Bullet studies in humans have no particular value in the first place: unfortunately wars and urban life (or death?) give more than enough material.

the bastards would shoot people and then prod the holes to see what happened
This is done every day all accross the country (of course, the shooter and the probbers are different people).

The Nazi scientist were as inhumane as you could get. Doing human endurance experiments was just the tip of the ice burg. They preformed live autopsies and if I recall correctly from a teacher back in high school, would try to attach animal limbs onto people. pretty hideous stuff.
No doubt, I’m sure when the information came into allied hands, they used the information in a more postive way. Maybe thats a good thing tho… something bad being used instead for something good.

Don’t know about the Germans, but jwg (in the link that Jophiel supplied) alluded to something that I read a few years ago in the NY Times – namely that horrific human experiments performed by the Japanese during WWII did in fact yield valuable medical insights.

For example, one of their findings can be found in any first aid manual: the best immediate treatment for a skin burn is cold water. One can only imagine what suffering was endured to learn this fact, but you can’t say the information gained was entirely worthless.

There are some who believe that unethically obtained “data” (of which Nazi “science” would seem to be the apotheosis) should never be used or cited. See for example this on-line review.

Duck, is it a piece of misinfo or the evidence of their “scientists” stupidity?
No two species can be croseed, by definition. Exceptins are extremely rare (wolfs+dogs), the progeny is usually barren (mule).

By jk1245

Well you must have heard wrong. The speaker (I can’t remember her name, it’s driving me crazy) said that contrary to what a lot of people think, they weren’t quacks that didn’t know what they were doing. The Nazi doctors knew what they were doing, both medically and morally.

Hopefully on you!

Despite the evils Hitler inflicted on generations of people it has to be said that the man had some good ideas. With the devaluation of the price of human life combined with an imaginative dictator who could make or break any research, some really weird experiments were done. I’m not sure about the extent of medical experiments but I’ve heard that the phsychological experiments were just as jam packed with wackiness. They involved things such as human reponse to various situations. this seemed to be usefull for the nazi’s when we remember their unprecedented success with propaganda.

On an unrellated conspiracy theory;

So who has possesion of these files?

Oh and who has the most effective and greatest volume of propaganda?

Hello America

Ironically, though hitlers open minded approach to bizarre experiments helped the nazis it was his closed minded bias that possibly cost him the war. many great scientists were lost to germany including that jewish marvel who made the atom bomb possible, Albert Einstein.
The inventor of the bomb itself was a defected italian.

Excuse me?

Could you name a couple for me? I must have been home sick from school the day they went over his “good” ideas.

Maybe I’m just tired and being overly nitpicky, but Three’s Company was “jam packed with wackiness”. Attempting to see how much torture (mental or physical) a human can stand before they go completely insane is sick, disgusting, and immoral.

If these experiments were so great why didn’t he volunteer? The nazi’s were not trying to further science and medicine, they were trying to amuse themselves by torturing and slowly killing unfairly imprisioned citizens who didn’t have the way or the means to stand up for themselves.
I cannot recall ever reading anything about anything good that came from Hitler or the Nazis. And, IMHO, there are not enough good ideas in the world to compensate for what he and his followers did. If there is something useful that came out of his rule, I am not aware of it - could you please enlighten me?

I’m a little curious about that comment myself.

Have any of you read QB VII (not sure of the number) by Leon Uris?

The “human factors” experiments carried out by the Nazis were so monstrous as to be disgusting. They injected dye directly into the eyes of people trying to change them to blue. Men had radioactive compounds injected directly into their testicles to see if mutation or sterilazation could be achieved. Identical twins were reserved for especially brutal experiments due to the availability of a control subject. That these twins were often mere children gave these torturers not a moment’s pause.

If there was any medical progress made by the Nazis it was entirely negated by the horrific enormity of their crimes against humanity. To discuss any of their work as a medical “gold mine” is to give a whiff of respectability to their disgusting acts. As open minded as I am, I cannot in good conscience watch an offhanded discussion of Nazi brutality allow to be clothed in the validity of scientific investigation.

Try to consider that people did not willingly engage in being nearly frozen to death. Many of these so-called “medical experiments” were more akin to torture with a callous disregard for human life that any sort of real science.

The fact that some of my mother’s family died at the hands of the Nazis might also have something to do with my stance.

I challenge any of you to read Uris’ book and walk away with a perception different from mine.


I would cite The Autobahn and if it weren’t for Hitler then we wouldn’t have that funny Three Stooges Episode You Nutsy Spy…

I think it’s generally understood by nearly everyone that Hitler and the Nazis were horrible and evil. But Hitler had to do some good things for the people of Germany or he wouldn’t have had the support and loyalty he did.

I’ve heard historians say that if Hitler had died before he got started on his destruction he’d be remembered as a great leader of the 20th century.