Friday, March 23, 2007

Mengele's Twin Studies

German Nazi-science on the whole is disturbing to the majority of those reading about it today. What is the most disturbing piece of information out of all of it is that the Nazis were actual people committing these crimes, not aliens or some foreign beings who might have no connection to humanity. The idea that baffles many is the fact that humans can ruin other humans' lives and brainwash them so easily.

Josef Mengele played quite a large role in this. A physician in the Nazi camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Mengele had the job of deciding who could die and who could be used for labor. Mengele was head of a "Gypsy" camp whose inhabitants later all got gassed, which led Mengele to achieve a higher position of power (Chief Medical Officer); this seems an odd way to gain power to any sane human being.

Mengele is most famous for his interest in twins, who furthered his studies in heredity. He used them to test diseases such as Noma, a disease primarily caused by malnutrition and weak immune systems (obviously prevalent in concentration camps). Often, Mengele would use one twin as a control and inject the other twin with something he thought caused such an infection. He would also try various amputations and to change the twins' eye colors by injecting them with foreign substances. Usually this was performed on children, which makes the matter seem even worse.

Was it good or bad that twins were sent to the concentration camps instead of the gas chambers? It seems like a Catch-22. Some mothers hid their twins, unsuspecting of what was to come next, and they would all end up in the gas chamber; other mothers would offer their twins at hearing the request (other requests were made as well for dwarves, giants, and other abnormal qualities). It seems that going to the concentration camp to be tested and tortured is not much better than getting gassed.

Mengele's experiments are a prime example of two simple questions that have plagued many people since the time of these concentration camps; how could anyone do such things to another human being, and how could anyone sit back and let it happen?


Blogger Ami said...

I don't really know a lot about the thoughts of the common public during the Nazi regime, but I am pretty sure that at least in the beginning, the common population was unaware of what was going on in the concentration camps. But as time progressed, it is unsettling that more people of Germany didn't speak out against the removal of all the Jews. Given that the new government had greatly improved Germany's economy and the lives of the non Jews, it must have been apparent to the common man that good things were not being done to the Jews. This makes me wonder, do we as bystanders have a certain responsibility to speak out about wrongs that we observe? In theory I would say yes, but it becomes more complicated when there could be serious consequences. In Germany, I know that there was punishment for speaking negatively about the government.

12:19 AM  
Blogger turtle soup said...

I think it's really scary what humans are capable of doing. And it's sad how people can take lives without any sort of guilt or after thought. These men like Mengele were killing millions as if they had the authority to do so. It was a job. These men had families of their own, yet they could feel no sympathy. It really scares me how the Nazis could go through this? Is it really brainwashing like you said? Their feelings of superiority blinded them into having a sense of power. response to Ami's above, I would say yes, it is our responsibility to step up and respond when we see something that shouldn't be happening. Yes there are consequences but sacrifices also need to be made for things to change.

1:36 PM  
Blogger maxine said...

This twin study is a case where the progression of science and of a supposed superior race were put above interests that would benefit the common good of human life. While it is disturbing that these experiments were performed on humans, children nonetheless; it is even more shocking that Mengele was given a promotion for the research that came out of his experiments. The question of ethics obviously comes into play when studying science during and after the Holocaust. Despite the focus on science, it is important that human beings in society realize what even a modicum of power can do--it can blind those already in charge and leave them to wield their authority upon anyone in their paths. Never should science purposely attempt to destroy human lives--the line must be drawn somewhere.

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