The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1997/08/31

The conditions under which such persons worked in the camps
were well calculated to lead to their deaths. Those
conditions were related by the WVHA. An illustration of WVHA
management be found in an order directed to commandants of

                                                  [Page 212]
concentration camps, 11 August 1942, and issued by SS
Brigade Fuehrer and General of the Waffen SS Gluecks, Chief
of Office Group D of WVHA (2189-PS):

     "The Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police
     has ordered, that punishment by beating will be
     executed in concentration camps for women by prisoners
     -- under the ordered supervision.
     "In order to coordinate this order the main office
     chief of the main SS economic administration office, SS-
     Obergruppenfuehrer and General of the Waffen-SS Pohl,
     has ordered, effective immediately, that punishment by
     beating will also be executed by prisoners in
     concentration camps for men." (2189-PS)

Even after their deaths, the prisoners did not escape the
management of WVHA. A directive to the commanders of
concentration camps, 12 September 1942, signed by the Chief
of the Central Office of Office Group D of WVHA, SS
Obersturmbannfuehrer Leibehenschel, provided:

     "According to a communication of the Chief of the
     Security Police and the SD and conforming to a report
     of the Chief of Security Police and SD in Prague, urns
     of deceased Czechs and Jews were sent for burial to the
     home-cemeteries within the Protectorate.

     "Based on different events (Demonstrations, erecting of
     posters inimical to the Reich on urns of deceased
     inmates in halls of cemeteries in the home-communities,
     pilgrimages to the graves of deceased inmates, etc.)
     within the Protectorate, the delivery of urns with the
     ash remnants of deceased Nationals of the Protectorate
     and of Jews is henceforth prohibited. The urns shall be
     preserved within the Concentration Camps. In case of
     doubt about the preservation of the urns oral
     instructions shall be available at this agency."

(e) SS use of concentration camp labor for pecuniary profit.
The SS regarded the inmates of concentration camps as its
own personal property to be used for its own economic
advantage. The suggestion in Himmler's letter to Goering,
will be recalled, that the SS be given a larger
responsibility in the armament program conducted in the
camps (1584-PS). As early as 1942 Speer recognized that the
SS was motivated by the desire for further profits when he
suggested to Hitler in a conference on 20, 21, and 22
September that the SS receive a share of the war equipment
produced by concentration camp labor in ratio to the working
hours of the prisoners (R-124). The Fuehrer agreed that a 3
to 5 percent share would satisfy SS commanders (R-124).

                                                  [Page 213]
Himmler himself frankly admitted his intention to derive
profits for SS purposes from the camps in his speech to the
officers of the SS Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler" (1918-PS):

     "*** The apartment-building program which is the
     prerequisite for a healthy and social basis of the
     entire SS as well as of the entire Fuehrercorps can be
     carried out only when I get the money for it from
     somewhere; nobody is going to give me the money, it
     must be earned, and it will be earned by forcing the
     scum of mankind, the prisoners, the professional
     criminals to do positive work. The man, guarding these
     prisoners, serves just as hard as the one on close-
     order drill. The one who does this and stands near
     these utterly negative people will learn within 3 to 4
     months *** and we shall see: In peacetime I shall form
     guard-battalions and put them on duty for 3 months only
     -- to fight the inferior being (Untermenschentum), and
     this will not be a boring guard duty, but if the
     officers handle it right, it will be the best
     indoctrination on inferior beings and the inferior
     races. This activity is necessary, as I said; 1. to
     eliminate those negative people from the German people;
     2. to exploit them once more for the great folk
     community by having them break stones and bake bricks
     so that the Fuehrer can again erect his grand
     buildings; and 3. to in turn invest the money, earned
     soberly this way, in houses, in ground, in settlements
     so that our men can have houses in which to raise large
     families and lots of children. This in turn is
     necessary because we stand or die with this leading
     blood of Germany and if the good blood is not
     reproduced we will not be able to rule the world."

 (4) Functions and activities with respect to human
experiments. One aspect of SS control over concentration
camps remains to be mentioned -- its direction of the
program of biological experiments on human beings which was
carried on in the camps. An American military tribunal has
passed judgment on some of the SS members who participated
in these experiments at Dachau. e purpose of this discussion
is to show only that those experiment were the result of SS
direction and that the SS played a vial part in their
successful execution.

The program seems to have originated in a request by Dr.
Sigmund Rascher to Himmler for permission to utilize persons
in Concentration camps as material for experiments with
human being, in connection with research he was conducting
on behalf Of the Luftwaffe. A letter dated 15 May 1941,
addressed to the

                                                  [Page 214]
Reichsfuehrer SS and signed by S. Rascher reads in part as

     "For the time being I have been assigned to the
     Luftgaukommando VLL, Munich for a medical course.
     During this course, where researches on high-altitude
     flights play a prominent part (determined by the
     somewhat higher ceiling of the English fighter planes)
     considerable regret was expressed at the fact that no
     tests with human material had yet been possible for us,
     as such experiments are very dangerous and nobody
     volunteers for them. I put, therefore, the serious
     question: can you make available two or three
     professional criminals for these experiments? The
     experiments are made at Bodenstaendige Bruefstells fuer
     Hoehenforschung der Luftwaffe, Munich. The experiments,
     by which the subjects can, of course, die, would take
     place with my cooperation. They are essential for
     researches on high-altitude flight and cannot be
     carried out, as has been tried, with monkeys, who offer
     entirely different test-conditions. I have had a very
     confidential talk with a representative of the air
     forces surgeon who makes these experiments. He is also
     of the opinion that the problem in question could only
     be solved by experiments on human persons. (Feeble-
     minded could also be used as that material.)" (1602-PS)

Dr. Rascher promptly received assurance that he would be
allowed to utilize concentration camp inmates for his

A letter dated 22 May 1941, addressed to Dr. Rascher and
bearing the signature of SS Sturmbannfuehrer Karl Brandt,
reads in part:
     "Shortly before flying to Oslo, the Reichsfuehrer SS
     gave me your letter of 15 May 1941, for partial reply.
     "I can inform you that prisoners will of course be
     gladly made available for the high-flight researches. I
     have informed the Chief of the Security Police of this
     agreement of the Reichsfuehrer SS, and requested that
     the competent official be instructed to get in touch
     with you." (1582-PS)

The altitude experiments were conducted by Rascher. In May
1942 General Field Marshal Milch on behalf of the Luftwaffe
expressed his thanks to the SS for the assistance it
furnished in connection with the experiments. This letter,
dated 20 May 1942, addressed to SS Obergruppenfuehrer Wolff
reads in part:

     "In reference to your telegram of 12 May our sanitary
     inspector reports to me that the altitude experiments
     carried out by the SS and Air Force at Dachau have been
     finished. Any continuation of these experiments seems
     essentially un-
                                                  [Page 215]
     reasonable. However the carrying out of experiments of
     some other kind, in regard to perils at high seas,
     would be important. These have been prepared in
     immediate agreement with the proper offices; Major
     (M.C.) Weltz will be charged with the execution and
     Capt. (M.C.) Rascher will be-made available until
     further orders in addition to his duties within the
     Medical Corps of the Air Corps. A change of these
     measures does not appear necessary, and an enlargement
     of the task is not considered pressing at this time.
     "The low-pressure chamber would not be needed for these
     low-temperature experiments. It is urgently needed at
     another place and therefore can no longer remain in
     "I convey the special thanks from the supreme commander
     .of the Air Corps to the SS for their extensive
     cooperation. "I remain with best wishes for you in good
     comradeship and with
                                               "Heil Hitler!
                                               "Always yours
                                     "s/s E. Milch" (343-PS)
Having finished his high-altitude experiments, Dr. Rascher
proceeded to experiment with methods of rewarming persons
who been subjected to extreme cold. On 10 September 1942 he rendered
an intermediate report on intense chilling experiments which
had been started in Dachau on 15 August (1618-PS). That
report states:

     "The experimental subjects (V) were placed in the
     water, dressed in complete flying uniform, winter or
     summer combination, and with an aviator's helmet. A
     life jacket made of rubber or kapok was to prevent
     submerging. The experiments were carried out at water
     temperatures varying from 2.5 degrees to 12 degrees.
     "Electrical measurements gave low temperature readings
     of 26.4 degrees in the stomach and 26.5 degrees in the
     rectum. Fatalities occurred only when the brain stem
     and the back of the head were also chilled. Autopsies
     of such fatal cases always revealed large amounts of
     free blood, up to l/2 liter, in the cranial cavity. The
     heart invariably showed extreme dilation of the night
     chamber. As soon as the temperature in these
     experiments reached 28 degrees, the experimental
     subjects (VP) died invariably despite all attempts at
     "During attempts to save severely chilled persons
     (Unterkuehlte), it was shown that rapid rewarming was in
     all cases
                                                  [Page 216]
     preferable to slow rewarming, because after removal
     from the cold water, the body temperature continued to
     sink rapidly. I think that for this reason we can
     dispense with the attempt to save intensely chilled
     subjects by means of animal heat.

     "Rewarming by animal warmth -- animal bodies or women's
     bodies -- would be too slow." (1618-PS)

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