What if you knew that such data could not be obtained today?
At the Nuremberg "Doctors Trial," Dr. Leo
Alexander points at scars on the leg of Polish survivor Jadwiga Dzido, who
endured sulfanilamide experiments at Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Hypothermia expert Dr. Robert Pozos had immersed hundreds of volunteers into
ice water in the years after he founded the University of Minnesota's
Hypothermia Laboratory in 1977. (He is no longer affiliated with the
university.) But he never let a participant's temperature drop more than
3.6°F (i.e., below 95°F). Unburdened by even the slightest sense of
humanity, the Nazi hypothermia experimenters, on the other hand, let their
victims' interior body temperatures drop to 79.7°F before attempting to
revive them. Most died an excruciatingly painful death as a result. However,
some did revive, and the Nazis found that rapid rewarming in hot water proved
the most effective way to revive them. In an ethical world, such data would not
exist, but they do exist and could benefit humanity. Should they simply be lost
"Dr. Rascher, although he wallowed in blood ... and in obscenity ...
nevertheless appears to have settled the question of what to do for people in
shock from exposure to cold ... The final report satisfies all the criteria of
objective and accurate observation and interpretation ... The method of rapid
and intensive rewarming in hot water ... should be immediately adopted as the
treatment of choice by the Air-Sea Rescue Services of the United States Armed
—Maj. Leo Alexander, U.S. Army doctor who served as aide to the chief counsel
of the Nuremberg war-crimes trial and authored an oft-cited 1945 report on the
Dachau hypothermia experiments. While Alexander later concluded the
results were undependable, other medical experts, most recently hypothermia
researchers Robert Pozos and John Hayward, have claimed that the data are
"The goal of science is to produce new knowledge. If, during unethically
conducted experiments, one valid scientific fact is produced, should that
information be used as it has been, referenced in the literature as it has
been, or just discarded?"
—Jay Katz (Yale University School of Law) and Robert S. Pozos (hypothermia
"I don't want to have to use this data, but there is no other and will be no
other in an ethical world."
—Dr. John S. Hayward, hypothermia expert at University of Victoria University,
Vancouver, B.C., Canada, on why he used Nazi hypothermia data in his research
"To justify the use of Nazi data in a research article, I would expect
scientists to use the findings only in circumstances where the scientific
validity is clear and where there is no alternative source of information."
—Kristine Moe, journalist
36. Siegel, p. 1.
37. Katz, Jay and Robert S. Pozos. "The Dachau Hypothermia Study: An Ethical
and Scientific Commentary." In Caplan, p. 137.
38. Moe, p. 5.
Photo: National Archives, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives
The Director's Story |
Timeline of Nazi Abuses
Results of Death-Camp Experiments: Should They Be Used?
Exposing Flawed Science |
Site Map |
Holocaust on Trial Home
Editor's Picks |
Previous Sites |
Join Us/E-mail |
About NOVA |
Site Map |
PBS Online |
NOVA Online |
© | Updated October 2000