What if you knew that the data might help save lives today?
Detailed notes kept by Jewish doctors
on children and adults who starved to death in the Warsaw ghetto were later
published as a seminal study on hunger disease.
Hypothermia expert Robert Pozos believes Nazi data on rapid rewarming could
save lives, while Dr. John Hayward, also a specialist in hypothermia, has used
Nazi cooling curves to determine how long cold-water survival suits would
safeguard people at near-fatal temperatures. As journalist Kristine Moe has
pointed out , scientists and physicians have gained valuable
insights from other horrific events in history. Jewish doctors locked inside
the Warsaw Ghetto took copious clinical notes on how their compatriots, many of
them children, perished from starvation; smuggled out of the ghetto, those
notes were later published as a landmark study on hunger disease. Survivors of
the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki offered a valuable, albeit
tragic, opportunity for specialists to learn more about radiation sickness.
With human lives at stake, should we consider the Nazi data any differently?
"The argument that the information [from the Dachau hypothermia
experiments] could be used to save human lives is a powerful one...."
—Dr. Robert Pozos, hypothermia expert
"I'm trying to make something constructive out of it. I use it with my guard
up, but it's useful."
—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
"We won't argue that the experiments were well reported or well designed, but
compared to what we had, they offered a measure of improvement. They obviously
had a lot of flaws. But we felt compelled to use it because it provided
—John Vandenberg, EPA project manager in charge of regulatory review of
phosgene gas, on why he condoned citing data from the Nazi phosgene
44. Moe, p. 7.
45. Pozos, Robert S. "Scientific Inquiry and Ethics: The Dachau Data." In
Caplan, p. 106.
46. Moe, p. 5.
47. Sun, Marjorie. "EPA Bars Use of Nazi Data." Science, Vol. 240 No.
4848, 4/1/88, p. 21.
Photo: National Archives, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives
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