Scrapbookpages Blog

July 17, 2017

Dachau experiments are back in the news

After all these many years, the medical experiments done at the Dachau concentration camp, are back in the news.

You can read about it at http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/dachau-georg-tauber-artwork-nazi-germany

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

When Dr. Sigmund Rascher of the Schutzstaffel (SS), a paramilitary organization of Nazi Germany, started conducting his merciless medical experiments at the Dachau concentration camp using prisoners as guinea pigs, he sent for a prisoner, an artist, to document his work. His assistant Walter Neff, a former camp inmate himself, approached Georg Tauber, a Bavarian advertising illustrator. Lured by the prospect of a reduced prison term, Tauber took the offer in 1942. However, unable to stomach the barbarity on display, he showed up at these sessions not more than three times.

One day, he told Neff that he had had enough. As Tauber recalled later in a 1946 letter to the Munich Public Prosecution Office, “Neff said to me, ‘Don’t be so stupid, he can get you released in a few months and you’re free.’ ‘Walter,’ I said, ‘even if I have to stay here for another ten years, it’s alright. I can’t watch that again, I just can’t.’”

End quote

I have a section on my scrapbookpages.com website about the medical experiments done at Dachau. These experiments were done to SAVE lives.

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/experiments.html

The following quote is from my kosher website:

Begin quote

Among the worst atrocities committed at the infamous Dachau concentration camp were the cruel and inhumane medical experiments, using prisoners as guinea pigs, conducted by Dr. Sigmund Rascher for the benefit of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force.

From March 1942 until August 1942, Dr. Rascher performed high altitude experiments under the authority of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. The Nazi justification for these experiments was that this was done in an effort to save the lives of German pilots.

In 1942, the American government did similar high altitude experiments for the US Air Force. According to a book entitled “Lindbergh” by A. Scott Berg, these experiments began on September 22, 1942 when Charles Lindbergh and six of his colleagues flew to Rochester, Minnesota where they met Dr. Walter M. Boothby, a pioneer in aviation medicine, who was the chairman of the Aeromedical Unit for Research in Aviation Medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

Their mission was to study the medical problems associated with high altitude flying. For the next ten days, Lindbergh himself became a human guinea pig, according to Berg’s book.

After the conquest of Germany, the American government confiscated the results of Dr. Rascher’s tests and made use of his experiments for the US Air Force.

End quote

Read more on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/experiments.html

 

 

 

 

April 26, 2013

April 26th, the anniversary of the day that Dr. Sigmund Rascher was allegedly executed at Dachau in 1945

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:39 am

On this website, you can read an article with this headline:  1945: Sigmund Rascher, feared science

Dr. Sigmund Rascher is shown on the right, as he conducts an experiment

Dr. Sigmund Rascher is shown on the right, as he conducts an experiment

The article on the website cited above begins with these words:

It’s on this date in 1945 that Sigmund Rascher is supposed to have been summarily executed in Dachau.

If that’s what happened, it’s no more than Rascher (English Wikipedia page | German) deserved.

There is a link in the article to a page on my website which you can read here. (the link on the website with the article does not work)

I don’t believe that Dr. Rascher was executed at Dachau.  I wrote a blog post about the alleged execution of Dr. Rascher, which you can read here.  (the website with the article links to my blog post)

Dr. Rascher conducted some very cruel experiments for the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) at Dachau.  America also conducted experiments for the American Air Force, but stopped short of letting the subjects die during the experiments.

An experiment carried out by Dr. Sigmund Rascher at Dachau

An experiment carried out by Dr. Sigmund Rascher at Dachau for the Luftwaffe

The photo above shows a Russian POW who was the subject of one of Dr. Rascher’s experiments.  You can read more about Dr. Rascher’s cruel experiments on my website here.  I was horrified when I saw the photo above at Dachau.  The man looks like an American, but I learned later that he is Russian.

If Dr. Sigmund Rascher had not been killed, he would probably have been brought to America, along with other German scientists and doctors, after the war.  Or he might have been put on trial in the Doctor’s Trial at Nuremberg.

March 8, 2011

New book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells about his sad last days

Filed under: Buchenwald, Dachau, Germany — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:03 pm

I am currently reading the new best-selling book by Eric Metasas, entitled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.  The book is long; life is short.  So I decided to skip ahead to read the ending.

Caution: Spoilers ahead.  If you don’t want to know how the book ends, don’t read any further.

Before I started reading this book, I knew that Dietrich Bonhoeffer had spent some time as a prisoner at the Buchenwald concentration camp, but what I didn’t know was that he had met Dr. Sigmund Rascher who was also a prisoner at Buchenwald.

On page 508, the author mentions that Dr. Waldemar Hoven and Dr. Sigmund Rascher shared the last two months of Bonhoeffer’s life, meaning that Dr. Rascher and Dr. Hoven were prisoners at Buchenwald in the Spring of 1945. I quickly checked the notes for the book and learned that this information had come from the book entitled The Venlo Incident written by Captain Payne-Best.

Dr. Sigmund Rascher was the SS doctor who had conducted medical experiments for the Luftwaffe at Dachau, starting in May 1942, with the consent and approval of Himmler. Then in May 1944, Dr. Rascher and his wife were arrested because they had registered, as their own, a child that was not their’s.  This information comes from an affidavit signed by Dr. Friedrich Karl Rascher, the uncle of Dr. Sigmund Rascher, which was entered into the proceedings of the Nuremberg IMT.

The following quote is from the book entitled The SS, Alibi of a Nation, 1922 – 1945 by Gerald Reitlinger:

Rascher remained at work in Dachau til May 1944, when Freiherr von Eberstein, higher SS and police leader for Munich, came to arrest him — but not for his experiments. It had been discovered that the children whom Frau Rascher had borne after the age of forty-eight had in reality been kidnapped from orphanages. The camp commandant and the chief medical officer at Dachau thereupon discharged a flood of complaints against Rascher, whom they described as a dangerous, incredible person who had been under Himmler’s personal protection for years, performing unspeakable horrors. Himmler naturally refused to have the Raschers tried, but they were confined in the political bunkers of Dachau and Ravensbrueck, the fate under the Third Reich of people who knew too much. Captain Payne-Best met Sigmund Rascher during the southward evacuation of the Dachau political bunker at the beginning of May 1945. He found Rascher garrulous and sympathetic. One of Rascher’s boasts to Captain Payne-Best was that he had invented the gas chamber. Perhaps that was why Sigmund Rascher disappeared soon afterwards, and likewise Frau Rascher who was last seen in Ravensbrueck.

So, acccording to Reitlinger, a highly respected historian, Captain Payne-Best did not meet Dr. Rascher until both were on the evacuation trip from Dachau to the South Tyrol.

According to Freiherr Von Eberstein, the SS officer and Police President of Munich, who arrested Dr. Rascher, he was sent to a prison in the city of Munich.  Munich is 18 kilometers from Dachau, so it makes sense that Dr. Rascher would have been sent to Dachau, not to Buchenwald.

Metaxas points out in his book that a group of prisoners, including Bonhoeffer, were taken from Buchenwald to Flossenbuerg in a van with a “wood-fueled engine.”  Along the way, they encountered bridges that had been destroyed and bomb damage along the roads. With such scarce transportation near the end of the war, why would Dr. Rascher have been moved from the Munich prison to Buchenwald, which was over 200 miles away?

Captain Payne-Best wrote that he arrived at Dachau on April 9, 1945, the same day that Dr. Rascher arrived there.  But were they on the same bus or train?  Captain Payne-Best was with a group of prisoners from Buchenwald, but Dr. Rascher had been in prison in Munich. Was Dr. Rascher first transferred from Munich to Buchenwald before being sent to Dachau?  April 9th was the day that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed at Flossenbuerg, where he had been transferred from Buchenwald.

Dr. Sigmund Rascher was allegedly shot on April 26, 1945 inside a prison cell at Dachau on the direct orders of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, but according to Gerald Reitlinger, Dr. Rascher had been sent from Dachau to the South Tyrol, along with Captain Payne-Best.

Captain Sigismund Payne-Best was a British intelligence agent; he was arrested on November 9, 1939 as a suspect in an alleged British plot to kill Hitler. Before he was moved to the Buchenwald concentration camp in August 1944, Captain Payne-Best had previously been a prisoner at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where Georg Elser, the man who had tried to kill Hitler with a bomb planted at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich on November 8, 1939, was also a prisoner.

Both Elser and Captain Payne-Best were awaiting a trial during which Hitler expected to prove that the British intelligence service (MI6) was involved in Elser’s failed assassination attempt.  Georg Elser was allegedly killed at Dachau on April 9, 1945 during an Allied bombing raid. All the other prisoners in the bunker were taken to a bomb shelter and Elser was the only one who was killed. Wait a minute!  Did Captain Payne-Best arrive at Dachau on the day that there was a bombing raid?

The story of Georg Elser’s execution, according to Captain Sigismund Payne-Best, is that either Adolf Hitler or Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had ordered the head of the Gestapo, SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, to deliver a letter, authorizing the execution of “special prisoner Georg Eller” during the next Allied air raid, to the Commandant of the Dachau concentration camp, Obersturmbannführer Eduard Weiter, on April 5, 1945.

Eller was a code name for Elser so that the other prisoners would not know his true identity. By some strange coincidence, Captain Payne Best had come into possession of this letter in May 1945 shortly before the end of World War II.

In my humble opinion, Captain Payne-Best made up some of the stories in his book, The Venlo Incident, including the story that Dr. Rascher was a prisoner at Buchenwald. But why would he do that?  I think that it was because he wanted to tell the story that he had met Dr. Rascher in a washroom at Buchenwald and that Dr. Rascher had told him all about the gas chamber at Dachau.

To this day, tour guides at Dachau tell visitors that the gas chamber at Dachau was not used for “mass murder” but it was used a few times to test different kinds of poison gas.

January 12, 2011

the letter from Dr. Sigmund Rascher to Himmler which proves that a gas chamber was built at Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Germany — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 7:52 am

Some of the tour guides at Dachau tell visitors today that the gas chamber, located just outside the concentration camp, was used a few times to gas a small number of prisoners, although not for mass gassing.  Some of the guides tell visitors that the gas chamber was used to test combat gases on prisoners in the camp.  This claim is based on a letter that was written by Dr. Sigmund Rascher to Heinrich Himmler, in which Rascher mentioned that “the same installation as in Linz is to be built at Dachau” and that he wanted to use the new installation to test combat gases.   (more…)

May 18, 2010

Who killed Dr. Sigmund Rascher and why?

Dr. Sigmund Rascher was the man who conducted medical experiments for the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) at Dachau, starting in May 1942. His wife, Nini Rascher, was a good friend of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, and she had recommended him for this job.

Dr. Rascher was allegedly shot on April 26, 1945 in prison cell #73 in the Dachau bunker by SS-Hauptscharführer Theodor Bongartz, on Himmler’s orders.  His wife was allegedly hanged, around the same time, at the Ravensbrück concentration camp.  But why would Himmler order two of his good friends to be executed at such a late date during World War II?

I won’t keep you in suspense: I don’t think that Himmler ordered the execution of the Raschers.

I believe that Captain Sigismund Payne Best, a British intelligence agent, who was a prisoner at Dachau, was involved in the murder of Dr. Rascher.  Why?  Because Dr. Rascher had allegedly told Captain Payne Best, while both men were allegedly imprisoned at the Buchenwald concentration camp, that he had designed the Dachau gas chamber and that thousands of people were gassed there.

The problem is that Dr. Rascher was never a prisoner at Buchenwald, so he could not possibly have told Captain Payne Best anything at Buchenwald.

With Dr. Rascher dead, Captain Payne Best could testify as a hearsay witness that there was a gas chamber at  Dachau and that it was used.

Actually, Captain Payne Best never got a chance to testify because no one was ever put on trial for the crime of operating a gas chamber at Dachau.

Dr. Sigmund Rascher doing a medical experiment at Dachau

Dr. Leo Alexander, a native of Austria who fled to China and then to America when the Nazis came to power, was an investigator for the prosecution in the War Crimes Commission at Nuremberg from 1946 to 1947, gathering information for the Nuremberg Doctor’s Trial.  If Dr. Rascher had lived, he would have been put on trial at Nuremberg as a war criminal because he had done experiments on Dachau prisoners.

Dr. Alexander’s report, on the Prolonged Exposure to Cold, evaluated the Nazi hypothermia experiments conducted by Dr. Rascher at Dachau (shown in the photo above).  Dr. Alexander found inconsistencies in Dr. Rascher’s lab notes which led him to believe that Dr. Rascher had deceived Himmler about his results. According to Dr. Alexander, Rascher reported to Himmler that it took from 53 minutes to 100 minutes for the prisoners to die in the freezing water. However, Dr. Alexander’s inspection of Dr. Rascher’s personal lab notes revealed that some of the subjects had suffered from 80 minutes to five or six hours before they died.

According to Dr. Alexander, Himmler discovered that Dr. Rascher had lied in his reports and Dr. Rascher’s deception was the reason that Himmler ordered the execution of both Dr. Rascher and his wife in April 1945. Himmler allegedly committed suicide shortly after he was captured by the British so we will never know if Dr. Alexander’s theory is correct.

However, Dr. Rascher was not arrested and imprisoned because he lied to Himmler about his lab results.  According to an affidavit signed by Dr. Friedrich Karl Rascher, the uncle of Dr. Sigmund Rascher, which was entered into the proceedings of the Nuremberg IMT, Dr. Rascher and his wife Nini were arrested in May 1944 because they had registered a child, who was not born to Nini, as their own.

Dr. Rascher with the baby, Peter

During the Nuremberg Doctors Trial, the following testimony was given by Freiherr Von Eberstein, the SS officer and Police President of Munich, who had arrested Dr. Rascher:

VON EBERSTEIN: Yes. In the spring of 1944, in the course of Criminal Police investigations against an SS Hauptsturmführer, Dr. Rascher, a physician, and his wife. The Raschers were accused of Kindesunterschiebung. That is a word which is very difficult to translate. In our law it means the illegal appropriation of other people’s children.

Secondly, Rascher was accused of financial irregularities in connection with the research station at Dachau, where these biological experiments were carried on. This research station was directly subordinate to Himmler, without any intermediate authority.

So Dr. Rascher was accused of “financial irregularities” in his research at Dachau, but not falsifying the results.  If this was enough to anger Himmler to the point of killing his two good friends, why didn’t he order their execution a lot sooner?  And if Himmler did finally order Dr. Rascher’s execution on April 26, 1945, why was this done secretly, without going through the usual procedure.

Door of prison cell in the Dachau bunker

Dr. Sigmund Rascher was allegedly shot inside a prison cell in the Dachau camp prison, called the bunker, on April 26, 1945.

April 26, 1945 was the day that a bunch of VIP prisoners at Dachau were taken to the South Tyrol, allegedly because Himmler wanted to use them as hostages in his negotiations with the Allies.  However, Captain Payne Best wrote in his book The Venlo Incident, that the VIP prisoners, including himself, were taken to the South Tyrol to be killed.  If this was the case, why wasn’t Dr. Rascher taken to the South Tyrol to be killed along with the others?  Why wasn’t he at least taken to the execution spot at Dachau, instead of being shot inside a prison cell?

The execution spot at Dachau with the “blood ditch” in the foreground

According to two different sources, Dr. Sigmund Rascher was, in fact, on the trip to the South Tyrol.

The following quote is from the book entitled The SS, Alibi of a Nation, 1922 – 1945 by Gerald Reitlinger:

Rascher remained at work in Dachau til May 1944, when Freiherr von Eberstein, higher SS and police leader for Munich, came to arrest him — but not for his experiments. It had been discovered that the children whom Frau Rascher had borne after the age of forty-eight had in reality been kidnapped from orphanages. The camp commandant and the chief medical officer at Dachau thereupon discharged a flood of complaints against Rascher, whom they described as a dangerous, incredible person who had been under Himmler’s personal protection for years, performing unspeakable horrors. Himmler naturally refused to have the Raschers tried, but they were confined in the political bunkers of Dachau and Ravensbrueck, the fate under the Third Reich of people who knew too much. Captain Payne-Best met Sigmund Rascher during the southward evacuation of the Dachau political bunker at the beginning of May 1945. He found Rascher garrulous and sympathetic. One of Rascher’s boasts to Captain Payne-Best was that he had invented the gas chamber. Perhaps that was why Sigmund Rascher disappeared soon afterwards, and likewise Frau Rascher who was last seen in Ravensbrueck.

Nerin E. Gun, a journalist who was a prisoner at Dachau, wrote in his book The Day of the Americans, published in 1966, that Dr. Sigmund Rascher was with the other prisoners that had been evacuated from Dachau and taken to the South Tyrol, and that Dr. Rascher was shot in Innsbruck. Upon arrival in Innsbruck, Edgar Stiller (the SS man in charge of the evacuation) had turned the VIP prisoners over to Captain Payne Best, according to Payne Best’s account in his book The Venlo Incident.

According to Nerin E. Gun, Captain Sigismund Payne Best was the most privileged of all the privileged prisoners. The following quote is from his book entitled The Day of the Americans:

Captain Best, who was fifty at the time of his arrest, had all the leisure he wanted in prison and was even allowed a typewriter. He was able to write a book in which he related all the tiresome details of his captivity. But he carefully avoided explaining what he was really doing in Holland at the time, or how much, if at all, he was implicated in the unfortunate affair at the Burgerbrau.

[…]

Best himself, in his book, admits that if he had remained free he would have known greater deprivation in wartime England, not to mention the risk of being buried under a German bomb.

According to Nerin E. Gun’s book, Captain Payne Best was allowed to keep his monocle and his personal possessions while in prison and he was given a radio capable of receiving London broadcasts. All the prisoners in the bunker were fed from the SS kitchens, but Captain Payne Best was given “double the normal SS ration of food,” according to Gun.

In his book, Nerin E. Gun wrote that when you read the memoirs of Captain Payne Best, “you feel that he had more affection for his SS guards, whom he considered to be nice everyday people who had somehow been forced to don a uniform, and worried more about what would happen to them than he did about the poor prisoners dying all around him.”

From Nerin E. Gun’s description of Captain Payne Best’s close relationship with the SS guards, it is clear that he might have had the means and the opportunity to get rid of a fellow prisoner in the last chaotic days of the Dachau camp if that prisoner knew any secrets that were best kept hidden.

What was it that Captain Payne Best did not want Dr. Sigmund Rascher to testify about in court?  Maybe about the conversation that Captain Payne Best claims that he had with Dr. Rascher in the Buchenwald Concentration camp.  Dr. Rascher was put into a prison in Munich in May 1944,  and then transferred to Dachau in April 1945; he was never a prisoner at Buchenwald.

In his book entitled The Venlo Incident, Captain Sigismund Payne Best wrote the following regarding a conversation he had with Dr. Rascher while both were allegedly prisoners at Buchenwald:

Next morning when I went to wash, there was a little man with a ginger moustache in the lavatory who introduced himself as Dr. Rascher saying that he was half English and that his mother was related to the Chamberlain family. When I told him my name he was much interested saying that he knew about my case and that he had also met Stevens (R. H. Stevens was another British intelligence agent who had been arrested along with Payne Best.) when he was medical officer in Dachau. … He was a queer fellow; possibly the queerest character which has ever come my way.

Almost at our first meeting he told me that he had belonged to Himmler’s personal staff, and that it was he who had planned and supervised the construction of the gas chambers and was responsible for the use of prisoners as guinea pigs in medical research. Obviously he saw nothing wrong in this and considered it merely a matter of expediency. As regards the gas chambers he said that Himmler, a very kind-hearted man, was most anxious that prisoners should be exterminated in a manner which caused them least anxiety and suffering, and the greatest trouble had been taken to design a gas chamber so camouflaged that its purpose would not be apparent, and to regulate the flow of the lethal gas so that the patients might fall asleep without recognizing that they would never wake. Unfortunately, Rascher said, they had never quite succeeded in solving the problem caused by the varying resistance of different people to the effects of poison gases, and always there had been a few who lived longer than others and recognized where they were and what was happening. Rascher said that the main difficulty was that the numbers to be killed were so great that it was impossible to prevent the gas chambers being overfilled, which greatly impeded any attempts to ensure a regular and simultaneous death-rate.

Did Dr. Rascher really tell Captain Payne Best about prisoners being gassed at Dachau? With Dr. Rascher dead and gone, no one would know if this conversation had actually taken place. Or did Himmler order Rascher’s execution just three days before Dachau was liberated because he didn’t want Dr. Rascher to tell the Allies about the gas chamber at Dachau?

Captain Payne Best also mentioned in his book, The Venlo Incident, that he and Dr. Rascher had discussed the attempt by Georg Elser to assassinate Adolf Hitler on November 8, 1939, and that Dr. Rascher was of the opinion that it was an inside job, staged by the Nazis.

Captain Sigismund Payne Best was arrested and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp because he was allegedly involved in the assassination attempt on November 8, 1939.  Was he trying to prove that the British were not involved in the plot to kill Hitler, as both Himmler and Hitler believed? Is it possible that Captain Payne Best had told Dr. Rascher that British intelligence was behind Georg Elser’s attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler and that’s why Dr. Rascher had to be silenced?

On April 26, 1945, the day that Dr. Sigmund Rascher was allegedly executed in Cell #73 in the bunker at Dachau, there was complete chaos and confusion in the Dachau camp, according to a book entitled The Last Days of Dachau, written jointly by Arthur Haulot, a Belgian prisoner, and Dr. Ali Kuci, an Albanian prisoner. Reischführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had given the order that the Dachau camp was to be immediately evacuated and that “No prisoner should fall into the hands of the enemy alive…” This message was received in the camp in response to a query sent to Berlin by the camp commandant, according to Kuci and Haulot. At 9 a.m. on April 26th, the order was given by the camp Commandant to evacuate the entire camp, but according to Haulot and Kuci, the prisoners acted quickly to sabotage the evacuation plan.

According to the book by Haulot and Kuci, the SS had assembled 6,700 prisoners for evacuation by 8 p.m. on April 26th. At 10 p.m. that day, a total of 6,887 prisoners left the camp on foot, marching south toward the mountains of the South Tyrol. According to testimony given at the Nuremberg IMT, the march to the South Tyrol was part of a plan, devised by Ernst Kaltenbrunner, to kill all the concentration camp prisoners. A transport of 1,735 Jewish prisoners had already left that day on a train bound for the mountains in southern Germany.

With so much going on at Dachau on April 26, 1945, it would have been easy for one of the prisoners to kill Dr. Sigmund Rascher without attracting much attention. It would also have been easy for Dr. Rascher to sneak away that day from the group of VIP prisoners in the bunker, which was near the main gate at Dachau, and join the group of 6,887 prisoners who were being marched out of the camp that same day.  Did Dr. Rascher manage to escape that day and go into hiding in South America, like so many other Nazis?  Anything is possible.

Frau Rascher was rumored to be Heinrich Himmler’s former mistress.  Did Himmler really order the death of his former lover because she was also involved in the medical experiments?  Nini Rascher took photos of the victims during the experiments.

Russian POW appears to be unconscious during Dachau medical experiment for the Luftwaffe