The Science and Ethics of Nazi Experimental Data
English 1127 – 25
Dr. Rachel Mines
Casualties of war on the battlefield are to be expected, but the slow torturous deaths caused by Nazi experimentation in World War II on unconsenting victims should never have been tolerated. Even today, the controversies surrounding these experiments are being raised. A main dilemma that medicine faces is whether or not the results of Nazi experiments should be used in today’s scientific endeavors. Data collected from Nazi experimentation should not be used because of its scientific invalidity and the unethical methods used to conduct them. The experiments conducted by Nazi doctors are well documented to the degree that the most unfamiliar have some inkling of the experiments that transpired in World War II. German doctors during that time were very interested in eugenics, the science of improving genetics through selective breeding (Wilkinson 467). Their interest went hand in hand with Nazi ideology of conserving the Aryan race and abolishing all other races viewed as inferior. (Pressel 1216). Together they came up with gruesome experiments for freezing, sterilization and infectious diseases. Of the experiments conducted, freezing or hypothermia experiments consisted of freezing in either baths of ice cold water of at least three degrees Celsius or to be left out in the cold for an extended period of time (Spitz 86). They were either in flying suits or naked and were not administered anesthetic (Spitz 86). 280 to 300 victims were subjected to 360 to 400 experiments with a casualty of 50-60 deaths (Spitz 86). The results of these experiments are coveted today because we cannot run tests to drop internal temperatures to such dangerous levels.
In a separate experiment, victims were infected with the malaria virus. They were either tainted with infected blood or had their bodies pressed next to boxes containing mosquitoes carrying the virus (Spitz 103). Malaria, typhus and jaundice were the three most common types of infectious diseases in Germany at that time (Spitz 103). Out of the 1200 victims, 30 died from malaria directly while 400 died from complications due to side effects (Spitz 106). The results of these experiments are also desired because there is no way now that doctors can see the results of malaria from inoculation to death today. Another experiment had to do with sterilization of those races deemed inferior. It was decided by 1941 that all Jews from Germany and any other country that the Nazis invaded would be exterminated (Spitz 191). The reason for this was to preserve the Aryan race from any influences of outside races (Spitz 191). It was also to be used as weapon of war (Spitz 193). The Nazis wanted to stealthily sterilize their enemies as a way of getting rid of their race. Methods to do so included radiation (x-rays), drugs, surgery (tying tubes), carbon dioxide injection and castration (Spitz 191). There are many reasons as to why the data would want to be used and published in journals as supporting evidence today. Many of the experiments conducted are too unethical to replicate in today’s world (Dyal 10). The only way of knowing the results of such situations would be to use the only data that is available; the data from the experiment conducted by Nazi doctors. Others argue that by not using the data we aren’t able to find the good in it, to extract the light from the dark (Post 43). Many say that only by acknowledging the results from such experiments can we avoid like experiments today. Only by admitting those experiments happened with great regret could we continue to move forward with great solution to today’s medical problems. A final argument for using data obtained from experiments is to strengthen the argument that the Holocaust is a myth (Dyal 11). There are people who...
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Dyal, Elizabeth. Nazi Medical Experimentation: Should the Data Obtained be Used? OpenSIUC. Southern Illinois University Carbondale, 2001. Web. 9 Oct. 2011.
Holocaust on Trial. Nova Online. PBS, 2000. Web. 3 November 2011.
Post, S. G. “ The Echo of Nuremburg: Nazi Data and Ethics.” Journal of Medical Ethics 17.1 (1991): 42-44. EBSCO. Web. 10 Oct. 2011.
Pressel, David M. “Nuremberg and Tuskegee: Lessons for Contemporary American Medicine.” Journal of the Medical National Association. 95.12 (2003): 1217-1222. Web of Science. Web. 3 November 2011.
Ross, W.D. “Intuitionism.” Morality and Moral Controversies: Readings in Moral, Social and Political Philosophy. Ed. John Arthur and Steven Scalet. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. 74-78. Print.
Spitz, Vivien. Doctors from Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans. Boulder: Sentient Publications, 2005.
Wilkinson, S. “’Eugenics Talk’ and the Languages of Bioethics.” Journal of Medical Ethics 34.6 (2009): 467-471. Web of Science. Web. 3 November 2011.
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