Nazi Experiments

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The Validity of Nazi Hypothermia Experimentations: The Question of Ethics Versus Scientific Knowledge. This essay deals with medical experiments conducted by the Nazis during the Second World War. Many types of experimentation occurred in the Third Reich, they include euthanasia, hypothermia, high pressure, and genetics. However, most of the experiments carried out in Nazi Germany are viewed as little else than another method of torture imposed upon involuntary subjects. The question can be posed: Do any of the Nazi's medical experiments contain valid scientific information, and if so, should this information be used? Due to the broad field of Nazi experimentation, I will explore this question dealing with, mainly, one type of Nazi experimentation - hypothermia. Overall, these medical experiments contained no medically valid or scientifically valid information. Speculation has appeared as to the validity and ethical aspect of the experiments that were performed. Should any of the information that was obtained from the from these experiments be used considering the circumstances in which the information was gathered? Several debates arise concerning the ethical use, as well as the scientific use of these experiments. This will be addressed later in the essay. According to Baruch Cohen, three main types of experiments existed in the Third Reich, which includes Medico-Military Research, Miscellaneous - Ad Hoc Experiments, and Racially Motivated Experiments. (no pp). Hypothermia experiments fall into the category of Medico- Military research due to the use of the information that was recorded from these experiments dealing with medical or military advances. Miscellanies - Ad Hoc experiments dealt with research that had no scientific purpose, poison experiments are an example of these experiments. Racially Motivated experiments which dealt with experiments dealt with genetic and racial interests, sterilization experiments fell into this category. The use of hypothermia experiments originated from the need for new technology. During the Second World War, air warfare had not been widely used, this led to a need for science to quickly attempt to make improvements upon the standards of air warfare. Hypothermia experiments were conducted in large vats of freezing liquid. This simulated the conditions of the North Sea, where main pilots died after descending into the cold waters. Another method to conduct hypothermia experiments involved strapping subject to a stretcher and to leave them outside - often naked - in sub-zero conditions. In the course of this essay, we will refer to the latter method of the hypothermia experiments. These experiments were similar to other types of experiments performed in Nazi Germany because of the inhumane methods employed to gain the results of the experiments. Even though the hypothermia experiments began out of a need to advance an aspect of air warfare, an element of torture always accompanied the research techniques. This was caused by Nazi physicians having the attitude that the subjects of these experiments were destined to die in the concentration camps. Therefore, by performing experiments on them, the doctors believed that they may actually be aiding these people by bringing death faster. As an example of the torturous experiments being used by some Nazis concerns two Russian men, that were believed to have made a comment to the SS officer conducting the experiment. These two men withstood the temperature in the freezing solution longer than previously recorded, when this was noted, the SS officer raised the temperature slightly in order to prolong their pain; this led to their death.(Rosenberg. no pp). Hypothermia experiments carried out in the Third Reich differ slightly from other experiments that were performed. The important difference is the presence of a scientific purpose present in the experiment. Research experiments, such as hypothermia and pressure, began out of a need for innovation, while racially motivated experiments, such as sterilization and euthanasia, originated from anti-Semitic movements. Medical research was performed in the hope that a discovery would establish the Third Reich as a world leader. The methods of experiments that were conducted in Germany during this time cannot be justified; the subjects were treated in a sub-human fashion, and if the Nazi's medical experiments are viewed in today's standards, these experiments would not be excusable if performed on animals. The inhumane experiments were conducted because the government wanted to advance the Third Reich, there was very little accurate scientific emphasis placed upon problems. Nevertheless, hypothermia experiments may contradict the general condemnation of the medical experiments in Nazi Germany by offering a relatively valid scientific source. Thus, is the data gathered from hypothermia experiments valid both scientifically and ethically? Some scientists have argued that even though the practices of using such methods would violate any laws involving medical norms and expectations of the Hippocratic oath, much of the results from the hypothermia, and consequent rewarming experiments, are relevant. If the concentration camp experiments on hypothermia did not take place, this information would not have been gathered and employed elsewhere. Baruch Cohen explains that the use of Nazi hypothermia experiments by current researches, such as Robert Pozos - the Director of the Hypothermia Laboratory at the University of Minnesota - would aid to fill the gaps of current research. Pozos would not allow a subject's core body temperature to fall below thirty-six degrees. The only experiments that have allowed a human's core body temperature to fall below thirty-six degrees were those conducted at Dachau. By using the Nazi's results from hypothermia experiment, Pozos can compile a more accurate conclusion on the effects of hypothermia on the body. Some critics have originally condemned the usage of the data collected, but on further investigation have concluded the relevance to the medical community. This is illustrated by Pozos in reference to Andrew Ivy. Ivy was the American scientist that evaluated the observations of Nazi medical experiments for the Nuremberg trials. On first inspection, Ivy found the experiments to have no scientific value, and were nothing more than atrocities of the war. However, after re-evaluation, Ivy noted that some of the information from the hypothermia experiments held relevance, he is one of the first scientists to consider the data accurate. For more than two thousand years physicians have sworn to practice by the guidelines set in the Hippocratic Oath. Even though the validity concerning most of Nazi experimentations has been recorded as containing no medical or scientific purpose - excluding the study of psychology - the debate over the results of the hypothermia experiments is still in question. The debate over the scientific value of the hypothermia experiments is the most important aspect of the validity of Nazi experiments. If the observations are not accurate, they will not be used, thus ending the ethical problems which arise when this data is used. "The scientific method is a procedure of research in which a problem is identifies, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated, and the hypothesis is empirically tested."(Webster's 703). This method is the universal basis for scientific research, this is relevant to note when exploring Nazi hypothermia experiments. The scientific value of the Nazi's experimentation is doubtful, this is due to the need to constantly test scientific hypotheses. Scientific method dictates that a theory cannot be proved totally correct. It is this part of science that denotes that experiments should constantly occur to support the validity of an experiment. Here we encounter the first obstacle of the possible acceptance of Nazi medical experiments as being valid. Under medical ethics, human rights laws, and even animal rights laws, the conditions that these experiments were conducted in cannot be reproduced. Therefore, the hypothermia experiments cannot be reproduced. "Since the experiments cannot be repeated, Robert Pozos states, the data can never be considered accurate."(102). Pozos continued that "even if the experiments had not been duplicated, that does not disprove their accuracy." (102). This contradictory explanation concerning the validity of hypothermia experiments illustrates that Pozos's poor attempt to justify these experiments in terms of individual findings, from the whole of Nazi experimentation. Another justification that should be considered in deciding if the hypothermia experiments are useful to modern science is the possibility that results from experiments conducted in the Third Reich have been fabricated. Propaganda in Nazi Germany was extremely common, therefore caution should be taken when analyzing the results of the experiments. According to Robert Berger, "the experimental approach was disorganized and haphazard. The work did not follow an orderly protocol essential for an acceptable scientific inquiry."(111) Furthermore, "there is evidence of falsification and suggestion of fabrication, while many conclusions are not supported by the data presented." (Berger 111). Cohen suggests that fabrications of the Nazi's hypothermia experiments were due to political pressures placed on the experimenters to produce hypothermia results. If this was not accomplished, the experimenters were severely punished. Hypothermia research had its beginnings in the Third Reich. Techniques for the reversal of hypothermia were also pioneered in the death camps. Yet, the intention of these experiments was not only acquiring knowledge on this condition, but for the advancement of the Nazi Regime and, at times, a form of torture. The validity of the scientific aspect of hypothermia experiments is an extremely debatable topic. If the results of the entire hypothermia experiments are being examined, then the amount of significant data in very minimal. However, as Katz and Pozos point out, information taken from individual results on the experiments has supported knowledge of hypothermia that existed before the Second World War.(136). Also, some of the results from these experiments sparked not only controversy as to their significance, but initiated further investigations into the observations, especially concerning the rewarming of the body. As with the pervious mention of Ivy, Nazi hypothermia experiments were not viewed objectively due to the other atrocities that were a part of the Third Reich. This may possibly be the only positive repercussion arising from the Third Reich during the Holocaust. A conclusion concerning the scientific validity of information taken from is difficult to determine. The main point of this scientific debate is whether the information is considered as a part of all experiments conducted in Nazi Germany, or as a separate entity. As a whole, the Nazi doctor's experiments held no scientific importance, and could not be applied to any other scientific endeavor. Yet, some individual aspects have sparked some advances in medical procedures. For example, in these experiments it was observed that if the rewarming method used that was raised the body's core temperature slower, then the chance of death was greatly diminished. These individual aspects of the hypothermia experiments contain scientific value, albeit somewhat small. As stated, some of the results from the hypothermia experiments give accurate insight into the scientific aspect of the possible use of the experiments. However, a conclusion whether or not the research is valid and should be used cannot be fully reach without examining the ethical view of the experiments. The Nuremberg Trails, which occurred in 1945, explore the accountability of many of the Nazi physicians who conducted medical inquiries. Of the twenty- two men and one woman, fifteen were convicted of atrocities against humankind. This point cannot be ignored in the examination of the justifications in using some of the results from experiments that these people conducted. Science is amoral. This may be the only determinant to the ethical use of Nazi based experimental data. Ethically, the manner of conducting the experiments dictates that the results should not be used. Scientifically, the hypothermia experiments contained some value - this is the only exception in terms of other Nazi experiments . It is this exception that can, and should be, applied to any appropriate research or theory; caution concerning the significance of the amount of importance placed upon these experiments should also be taken into account. With this stipulation, hypothermia experiment conducted in the Third Reich hold some reliability. Yet this is merely the scient

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