10 Outrageous Experiments Conducted on Humans

The Nazi Medical Experiments
A Polish witness and a doctor show the wounds the woman received from Nazi experiments during the trial of 23 Nazi doctors in Nuremberg, Germany in 1946. © Photo12/UIG/Getty Images

During WWII, the Nazis performed medical experiments on adults and children imprisoned in the Dachau, Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. The accounts of abuse, mutilation, starvation, and torture reads like a grisly compilation of all nine circles of hell. Prisoners in these death camps were subjected to heinous crimes under the guise of military advancement, medical and pharmaceutical advancement, and racial and population advancement.

Jews were subjected to experiments intended to benefit the military, including hypothermia studies where prisoners were immersed in ice water in an effort to ascertain how long a downed pilot could survive in similar conditions. Some victims were only allowed sea water, a study of how long pilots could survive at sea; these subjects, not surprisingly, died of dehydration. Victims were also exposed to high altitude in decompression chambers -- often followed with brain dissection on the living -- to study high-altitude sickness and how pilots would be affected by atmospheric pressure changes.

Effectively treating war injuries was also a concern for the Nazis, and pharmaceutical testing went on in these camps. Sulfanilamide was tested as a new treatment for war wounds. Victims were inflicted with wounds that were then intentionally infected. Infections and poisonings were also studied on human subjects. Tuberculosis (TB) was injected into prisoners in an effort to better understand how to immunize against the infection. Experiments with poison, to determine how fast subjects would die, were also on the agenda.

The Nazis also performed genetic and racially-motivated sterilizations, artificial inseminations, and also conducted experiments on twins and people of short stature.