Medical experiments at Natzweiler-Struthof

As in several of the other Nazi concentration camps, there were medical experiments conducted at Natzweiler-Struthof. The experiments included medical studies on typhus, mustard gas, and phosphene gas.

Dr. Goude, one of the survivors, wrote the following in a book called "Tragedy of the Deportation":

In block 5 there was a special chamber where were put the survivors from the gas chambers, in order to study on them the lesions made by the new gases being tested. Professor Haagen, the Reich's specialist in hygienics, presided over these experiments. I did not like to get involved with these things for it was always dangerous. Yet in June, I was compelled to go to block 8 to take two 3 ounce bottles of blood from each deportee who was convalescent from typhus, this to make a convalescent serum to heal ill S.S.s.

According to testimony given at the Doctor's trial at Nuremberg, the subjects of the mustard gas experiments were German criminals who were sent to Natzweiler after being convicted of a crime. In a book sold at the Memorial site, we find the following information about the medical experiments at Natzweiler-Struthof:

1. Mustard gas

At the end of 1942 and during 1943, application of liquid mustard gas on German common delinquents in the infirmary (3 deaths).

2. Experiments on typhus

100 Tziganes ordered through the Berlin administration arrive from Auschwitz in November 1943. 20 of them died of cold when they arrived, the others were unstable. 100 others were sent in December.

Haagen took 80 of them that he divided into two groups of 40. The first group was vaccinated twice in January and February 1944 with the Haagen vaccine, the second group was not vaccinated.

On May 18, 1944, both groups had to undergo a scarification in the arm with "virulent typhus germs."

A revealing fact: the records of the infirmary give the proof that in March 1944, typhus was unknown in the camp. It appeared around April 10, 1944.

3. Phosphene gas

Doctor Bickenbach was instructed to find an antidote to phosphene. He began his experiments on animals, and from 1943 he made experiments on deportees, in the gas chamber at Struthof.

4. The affair of the Israelite corpses

Hirt, professor of anatomy in Strasbourg, received corpses from the camp of Russian war prisoners at Mutzig, but as he thought they were too lean, he asked for people in a good physical condition for studies on heredity.

87 Israelites (30 of whom were women) were sent from the camp at Auschwitz. They were shut up in block 13 at the Struthof where they were measured, and they had to undergo experiments on sterilization. On August 11, 13, 17, 19, 1943, under the direction of doctors from Strasburg, the S.S. gassed the 87 Israelites in the gas chamber at Struthof with cyanide. Death occurred after 30 to 60 seconds. The corpses were transported to the Institut d'Anatomie in Strasburg. 17 entire corpses (3 of which being women's) were found at the liberation as well as many dissected pieces.

The experiments made at Struthof have moreover been confirmed by the declarations of Kramer, ex-commandant of the camp at Natzweiler, arrested by the English in the camp at Belsen and executed later. He confessed he had received corpses from Auschwitz. He confessed that he had treated them himself in the gas chamber and that he had observed by the exterior opening what was going on inside the chamber; he concluded: "I felt no emotion when performing these acts for in fact I was brought up like that." (sic)

Evacuation of the camp

Life in the Camp