use of nazi experimental data





Marc Hansen
Philosophy 447

Should Unethically Obtained Nazi Data be used for Current Research?
During World War II, Nazi doctors committed atrocious crimes in the name of research against their Jewish prisoners. This research done in such a way that never can or should be done again, plays an important role in science. We must allow researchers to use Nazi data to add light to their research, however only if it is the only source for the data they need to improve their research or findings.
To understand the full breadth of the Nazis\' research practices you must examine some of the Nazi research history leading up to the Nuremberg trials of 1946. These trials, which eventually led to laws regulating human subject research and convictions against sixteen of the twenty doctors charged with war crimes, crimes against, humanity and conspiracy.
When explaining the brutality of the research Baruch C. Cohen in "Jewish Law Articles" says the "acts of torture were characterized by several shocking features: (1) persons were forced to become subjects in very dangerous studies against their will. (2) Nearly all subjects endured incredible suffering, mutilation, and indescribable pain. (3) The experiments often were deliberately designed to terminate in a fatal outcome for their victims."
Hitler\'s doctors performed numerous experiments on the Jewish subjects with military intelligence goals in mind, they slept at night claiming the subjects were condemned to death anyway. Some of these experiments were:
1. Freezing experiments, prisoners were immersed into tanks of ice water for hours at a time, often shivering to death. The researcher\'s goal here was to determine how long Germany pilot could survive if they were shot down over the ocean.
2. High altitude experiments, researchers here wanted to determine the effects of high altitude on pilots. They placed the Jewish prisoners in altitude decompression chambers, examining how much pressure the human body can take. Doctors would open the skull and examine the brain while the subjects were still alive to see the effects leading up to death. Those who survived the altitude tests were subject to execution.
3. Tuberculosis experiments, the Nazis conducted experiments to determine whether or not the human body had any natural immunity to TB. Healthy Jews were injected with TB and left to face whatever natural consequences arose.
4. Sulfanilamide experiments, to study the effects of German war wounds the researchers reenacted similar wounds on the prisoners. Sulfanilamide was a drug thought to aid in war wound recovery. Jews were deliberately infected with gangrene and tetanus, and had both ends of their veins tied to stop the circulation of blood, this created a similar condition to war.
There were many other experiments done but these were a few of the more notorious and popular. Nearly half of the participants were killed as a direct result of the research the remaining subjects were executed. Once again I realize the tragedy in these experiments but feel we must not have these lives go to waste, the research should be used if there are no other alternatives.
Many feel the research that was ascertained through these horrible means should never see the light of day. Cohen from the "Jewish Law Articles" asks the question "If the experiments were conducted in an unethical manner, can the results be considered scientifically reliable," those opposed to using the data would say no.
Nazi concentration camp science is often branded as bad science. First, it is doubtful that the subject\'s results will generalize across those people the research was intended to benefit. Secondly, additional doubts about the integrity of the doctors and their results must surface when you consider the Nazi doctors\' political aspirations and their beliefs in the perfect race. Lastly, the fact that the results were never published, replicated, or validated raises doubts in many people\'s minds about the data\'s scientific accuracy and subsequent use.
The prior example of the freezing experiments has come into much controversy. Historians suggested several reasons for the inconsistent data that was gathered. The most widely used theory states that the researcher was under orders from the top of the Nazi hierarchy to produce results, thereby dressing up the findings for submittal. Many other experiments are claimed to have been tainted as well as the doctors credentials themselves.
Once again I feel it