Dachau: The most Bizarre Experiment carried out in Concentration Camps during World War II


Dachau was the first concentration camp created in Germany by the Nazi dictatorship during the 1930s. It was erected on the fringes of Dachau, near Munich, and served as a model for all subsequent Nazi-occupied European concentration camps.

From 1933 through 1945, the camp detained and imprisoned political opponents of the Nazi dictatorship, as well as Jews, Romani people, homosexuals, and others deemed “unworthy of life” by the Nazi regime.

Dachau’s conditions were severe and terrible.
Prisoners were subjected to hard labor, malnutrition, sickness, and severe punishments in order to dehumanize and crush their spirits.
The detainees were held in tight and filthy conditions, and many suffered from hunger and other ailments as a result of a lack of competent medical care.

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Dachau, Germany: Exterior view of a building at Dachau Concentration Camp. Photo by Heinrich Weingland, Gettyimages.
Medical Experiments

Many detainees at Dachau were subjected to medical experiments, frequently without their knowledge, as the Nazi dictatorship tried to further its racial and eugenic beliefs. These tests were frequently traumatic and resulted in lasting harm or death.

They included testing on the impact of high altitude, freezing temperatures, and numerous diseases and toxins. The medical experiments carried out at Dachau and other Nazi concentration camps were a heinous violation of medical ethics and a stain on medical history.

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20th February 1947: An autopsy specimen of the brain of a Dachau concentration camp victim. Experiments were carried on the victims by first putting them in a low-pressure chamber and then strangling them under water. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The trials were carried out on an autopsy specimen of a Dachau victim’s brain in an attempt to simulate high-altitude conditions. To imitate drowning, victims were placed in a low-pressure chamber and strangled under water.

This type of experiment was intended to collect data on how the human body would react to high-altitude situations, such as those encountered by pilots during air attacks.

It is crucial to remember that these types of experiments were not limited to Dachau, but were carried out in a number of other concentration camps throughout the war.

Inhumane treatment of inmates, including medical experimentation, was a defining feature of the Nazi dictatorship and a clear breach of international law and medical ethical norms.

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1754: Cold water immersion during hypothermia experiments at Dachau concentration camp presided over by Professor Holzlohner (left) and Dr Rascher (right). Prisoners did not volunteer; they were forced to participate. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

After the war, the doctors who carried out these experiments were tried for their crimes, notably the Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial in 1947.

The history of these trials serves as a reminder of the significance of holding those responsible for such atrocities accountable and ensuring that such crimes do not occur again.