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A Question of Ethics

Esther Cuerda Galindo from the University of Madrid spent a week at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen doing research for a study on medical experiments. “So far we have analyzed eyewitness reports. Now I would like to look at the original concentration camp documents,” said Galindo, who is discussing the topic in a small team of four academics.

Galindo is especially interested in the collaboration between universities and research with the concentration camp administration. She used her week at the ITS to get an overview of relevant documents in the archive. “Cadavers from concentration camps were regularly delivered to the anatomical institutes at German universities,” said Galindo. “I want to know what happened to them, how students handled them and which tests were done.” In a well-known example of such atrocities, prisoners were murdered with the specific intent of giving their skulls to the collections at the University of Strassburg´s anatomical institute. Galindo is planning to visit the institute´s archive.

Many experiments were carried out, including those for the Wehrmacht, the testing of new medicines and vaccines, the testing of various methods of forced sterilization, and experiments done by SS camp doctors for their own enjoyment, explained the researcher. “This is a question of ethics, which we are still concerned with today,” said Galindo. “I will never understand how a doctor could take the pulse of a person who is specifically being put to death for the sake of his experiment.”