Nazi human experimentation was a series of medical experiments on large numbers of prisoners, including children, by Nazi Germany in its concentration camps in the early to mid 1940s, during World War II and the Holocaust. Chief target populations included Romani, Sinti, ethnic Poles, Soviet POWs, disabled Germans, and Jews from across Europe.
Nazi physicians and their assistants forced prisoners into participating; they did not willingly volunteer and no consent was given for the procedures. Typically, the experiments resulted in death, trauma, disfigurement or permanent disability, and as such are considered examples of medical torture.
At Auschwitz and other camps, under the direction of Eduard Wirths, selected inmates were subjected to various hazardous experiments that were designed to help German military personnel in combat situations, develop new weapons, aid in the recovery of military personnel who had been injured, and to advance the Nazi racial ideology. Aribert Heim conducted similar medical experiments at Mauthausen.
After the war, these crimes were tried at what became known as the Doctors' Trial, and revulsion at the abuses perpetrated led to the development of the Nuremberg Code of medical ethics. The Nazi physicians in the Doctors' Trial argued that military necessity justified their torturous experiments, and compared their victims to collateral damage from Allied bombings. But this defense, which was in any case rejected by the Tribunal, cannot apply to the twin experiments of Josef Mengele, which were performed on children and had no connection to military necessity.
The table of contents of a document from the Nuremberg military tribunals prosecution includes titles of the sections that document medical experiments revolving around: food, seawater, epidemic jaundice, sulfanilamide, blood coagulation and phlegmone. According to the indictments at the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, these experiments included the following:
Experiments on twin children in concentration camps were created to show the similarities and differences in the genetics of twins, as well as to see if the human body can be unnaturally manipulated. The central leader of the experiments was Josef Mengele, who from 1943 to 1944 performed experiments on nearly 1,500 sets of imprisoned twins at Auschwitz. About 200 people survived these studies. The twins were arranged by age and sex and kept in barracks between experiments, which ranged from injection of different dyes into the eyes of twins to see whether it would change their color to sewing twins together in attempts to create conjoined twins. Often times, one twin would be forced to undergo experimentation, while the other was kept as a control. If the experimentation reached the point of death, the second twin would be brought in to be killed at the same time. Doctors would then look at the effects of experimentation and compare both bodies.
From about September 1942 to about December 1943 experiments were conducted at the Ravensbrück concentration camp, for the benefit of the German Armed Forces, to study bone, muscle, and nerve regeneration, and bone transplantation from one person to another. Sections of bones, muscles, and nerves were removed from the subjects without use of anesthesia. As a result of these operations, many victims suffered intense agony, mutilation, and permanent disability.
On August 12, 1946 a survivor named Jadwiga Kamińska gave a deposition about her time at Ravensbrück concentration camp and describes how she was operated on twice. Both operations involved one of her legs and although she never describes having any knowledge as to what exactly the procedure was, she explains that both times she was in extreme pain and developed a fever post surgery. Yet she was given little to no care. Kamińska describes being told that she had been operated on simply because she was a "young girl and a Polish patriot". She describes how her leg oozed pus for months after the operations.
Prisoners were also experimented on by having their bone marrow injected with bacteria to study the effectiveness of new drugs being developed for use in the battle fields. Many prisoners left the camps with disfigurement that would last the rest of their lives.
In mid-1942 in Baranowicze, occupied Poland, experiments were conducted in a small building behind the private home occupied by a known Nazi SD Security Service officer, in which "a young boy of eleven or twelve [was] strapped to a chair so he could not move. Above him was a mechanized hammer that every few seconds came down upon his head." The boy was driven insane from the torture.
In 1941, the Luftwaffe conducted experiments with the intent of discovering means to prevent and treat hypothermia. There were 360 to 400 experiments and 280 to 300 victims indicating some victims suffered more than one experiment.
|Attempt no.||Water temperature||Body temperature when removed from the water||Body temperature at death||Time in water||Time of death|
|5||5.2 °C (41.4 °F)||27.7 °C (81.9 °F)||27.7 °C (81.9 °F)||66'||66'|
|13||6 °C (43 °F)||29.2 °C (84.6 °F)||29.2 °C (84.6 °F)||80'||87'|
|14||4 °C (39 °F)||27.8 °C (82.0 °F)||27.5 °C (81.5 °F)||95'|
|16||4 °C (39 °F)||28.7 °C (83.7 °F)||26 °C (79 °F)||60'||74'|
|23||4.5 °C (40.1 °F)||27.8 °C (82.0 °F)||25.7 °C (78.3 °F)||57'||65'|
|25||4.6 °C (40.3 °F)||27.8 °C (82.0 °F)||26.6 °C (79.9 °F)||51'||65'|
|4.2 °C (39.6 °F)||26.7 °C (80.1 °F)||25.9 °C (78.6 °F)||53'||53'|
Another study placed prisoners naked in the open air for several hours with temperatures as low as −6 °C (21 °F). Besides studying the physical effects of cold exposure, the experimenters also assessed different methods of rewarming survivors. "One assistant later testified that some victims were thrown into boiling water for rewarming."
Beginning in August 1942, at the Dachau camp, prisoners were forced to sit in tanks of freezing water for up to 3 hours. After subjects were frozen, they then underwent different methods for rewarming. Many subjects died in this process.
The freezing/hypothermia experiments were conducted for the Nazi high command to simulate the conditions the armies suffered on the Eastern Front, as the German forces were ill-prepared for the cold weather they encountered. Many experiments were conducted on captured Russian troops; the Nazis wondered whether their genetics gave them superior resistance to cold. The principal locales were Dachau and Auschwitz. Sigmund Rascher, an SS doctor based at Dachau, reported directly to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and publicised the results of his freezing experiments at the 1942 medical conference entitled "Medical Problems Arising from Sea and Winter". In a letter from September 10, 1942, Rascher describes an experiment on intense cooling performed in Dachau where people were dressed in fighter pilot uniforms and submerged in freezing water. Rascher had some of the victims completely underwater and others only submerged up to the head. Approximately 100 people are reported to have died as a result of these experiments.
From about February 1942 to about April 1945, experiments were conducted at the Dachau concentration camp in order to investigate immunization for treatment of malaria. Healthy inmates were infected by mosquitoes or by injections of extracts of the mucous glands of female mosquitoes. After contracting the disease, the subjects were treated with various drugs to test their relative efficiency. Over 1,200 people were used in these experiments and more than half died as a result. Other test subjects were left with permanent disabilities.
At the German concentration camps of Sachsenhausen, Dachau, Natzweiler, Buchenwald, and Neuengamme, scientists tested immunization compounds and serums for the prevention and treatment of contagious diseases, including malaria, typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, yellow fever, and infectious hepatitis.
From June 1943 till January 1945 at the concentration camps, Sachsenhausen and Natzweiler, experimentation with epidemic jaundice was conducted. The test subjects were injected with the disease in order to discover new inoculations for the condition. These tests were conducted for the benefit of the German Armed Forces. Many suffered great pain in these experiments.
At various times between September 1939 and April 1945, many experiments were conducted at Sachsenhausen, Natzweiler, and other camps to investigate the most effective treatment of wounds caused by mustard gas. Test subjects were deliberately exposed to mustard gas and other vesicants (e.g. Lewisite) which inflicted severe chemical burns. The victims' wounds were then tested to find the most effective treatment for the mustard gas burns.
From about July 1942 to about September 1943, experiments to investigate the effectiveness of sulfonamide, a synthetic antimicrobial agent, were conducted at Ravensbrück. Wounds inflicted on the subjects were infected with bacteria such as Streptococcus, Clostridium perfringens (a major causative agent in gas gangrene) and Clostridium tetani, the causative agent in tetanus. Circulation of blood was interrupted by tying off blood vessels at both ends of the wound to create a condition similar to that of a battlefield wound. Infection was aggravated by forcing wood shavings and ground glass into the wounds. The infection was treated with sulfonamide and other drugs to determine their effectiveness.
From about July 1944 to about September 1944, experiments were conducted at the Dachau concentration camp to study various methods of making sea water drinkable. These victims were subject to deprivation of all food and only given the filtered sea water. At one point, a group of roughly 90 Roma were deprived of food and given nothing but sea water to drink by Dr. Hans Eppinger, leaving them gravely injured. They were so dehydrated that others observed them licking freshly mopped floors in an attempt to get drinkable water.
A Holocaust survivor named Joseph Tschofenig wrote a statement on these seawater experiments at Dachau. Tschofenig explained how while working at the medical experimentation stations he gained insight into some of the experiments that were performed on prisoners, namely those where they were forced to drink salt water. Tschofenig also described how victims of the experiments had trouble eating and would desperately seek out any source of water including old floor rags. Tschofenig was responsible for using the X-ray machine in the infirmary and describes how even though he had insight into what was going on he was powerless to stop it. He gives the example of a patient in the infirmary who was sent to the gas chambers by Dr. Sigmund Rascher simply because he witnessed one of the low-pressure experiments.
The Law for the Prevention of Genetically Defective Progeny was passed on 14 July 1933, which legalized the involuntary sterilization of persons with diseases claimed to be hereditary: weak-mindedness, schizophrenia, alcohol abuse, insanity, blindness, deafness, and physical deformities. The law was used to encourage growth of the Aryan race through the sterilization of persons who fell under the quota of being genetically defective. 1% of citizens between the age of 17 to 24 had been sterilized within 2 years of the law passing.
Within 4 years, 300,000 patients had been sterilized. From about March 1941 to about January 1945, sterilization experiments were conducted at Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, and other places by Dr. Carl Clauberg. The purpose of these experiments was to develop a method of sterilization which would be suitable for sterilizing millions of people with a minimum of time and effort. The targets for sterilization included Jewish and Roma populations. These experiments were conducted by means of X-ray, surgery and various drugs. Thousands of victims were sterilized. Aside from its experimentation, the Nazi government sterilized around 400,000 people as part of its compulsory sterilization program. One survivor, who underwent experimentation at Auschwitz, said that the experimentation she endured caused, "fainting from severe pain for a year and a half." Years later she went to a doctor and discovered that her uterus had become one comparable to that of a 4-year-old.
Intravenous injections of solutions speculated to contain iodine and silver nitrate were successful, but had unwanted side effects such as vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal pain, and cervical cancer. Therefore, radiation treatment became the favored choice of sterilization. Specific amounts of exposure to radiation destroyed a person's ability to produce ova or sperm, sometimes administered through deception. Many suffered severe radiation burns.
M.D. William E. Seidelman, a professor from the University of Toronto, in collaboration with Dr. Howard Israel of Columbia University published a report on an investigation on the Medical experimentation performed in Austria under the Nazi Regime. In that report he mentions a Doctor Hermann Stieve, who used the war to experiment on live humans. Dr. Stieve specifically focused on the reproductive system of women. He would tell women their execution date in advance, and he would evaluate how their psychological distress would affect their menstruation cycles. After they were murdered, he would dissect and examine their reproductive organs. Some of the women were even raped after they were told the date when they would be killed, so that Dr. Stieve could study the path of sperm through their reproductive system.
Somewhere between December 1943 and October 1944, experiments were conducted at Buchenwald to investigate the effect of various poisons. The poisons were secretly administered to experimental subjects in their food. The victims died as a result of the poison or were killed immediately in order to permit autopsies. In September 1944, experimental subjects were shot with poisonous bullets, suffered torture and often died.
From around November 1943 to around January 1944, experiments were conducted at Buchenwald to test the effect of various pharmaceutical preparations on phosphorus burns. These burns were inflicted on prisoners using phosphorus material extracted from incendiary bombs.
In early 1942, prisoners at Dachau concentration camp were used by Sigmund Rascher in experiments to aid German pilots who had to eject at high altitudes. A low-pressure chamber containing these prisoners was used to simulate conditions at altitudes of up to 68,000 feet (21,000 m). It was rumored that Rascher performed vivisections on the brains of victims who survived the initial experiment. Of the 200 subjects, 80 died outright, and the others were executed. In a letter from April 5, 1942 between Dr. Sigmund Rascher and Heinrich Himmler, Rascher explains the results of a low-pressure experiment that was performed on people at Dachau Concentration camp in which the victim was suffocated while Rascher and another unnamed doctor took note of his reactions. The person was described as 37 years old and in good health before being murdered. Rascher described the victim's actions as he began to lose oxygen and timed the changes in behavior. The 37-year-old began to wiggle his head at 4 minutes, a minute later Rascher observed that he was suffering from cramps before falling unconscious. He describes how the victim then lay unconscious, breathing only 3 times per minute, until he stopped breathing 30 minutes after being deprived of oxygen. The victim then turned blue and began foaming at the mouth. An autopsy followed an hour later.
In a letter from Heinrich Himmler to Dr. Sigmund Rascher on April 13, 1942, Himmler ordered Rascher to continue the high altitude experiments and to continue experimenting on prisoners condemned to death and to "determine whether these men could be recalled to life". If a victim could be successfully resuscitated, Himmler ordered that he be pardoned to "concentration camp for life".
Sigmund Rascher experimented with the effects of Polygal, a substance made from beet and apple pectin, which aided blood clotting. He predicted that the preventive use of Polygal tablets would reduce bleeding from gunshot wounds sustained during combat or during surgery. Subjects were given a Polygal tablet, and shot through the neck or chest, or their limbs amputated without anaesthesia. Rascher published an article on his experience of using Polygal, without detailing the nature of the human trials and also set up a company to manufacture the substance, staffed by prisoners.
Other documented transcriptions from Heinrich Himmler include phrases such as "These researches… can be performed by us with particular efficiency because I personally assumed the responsibility for supplying asocial individuals and criminals who deserve only to die from concentration camps for these experiments." Many of the subjects died as a result of the experiments conducted by the Nazis, while many others were executed after the tests were completed to study the effects post mortem. Those who survived were often left mutilated, suffering permanent disability, weakened bodies, and mental distress. On 19 August 1947, the doctors captured by Allied forces were put on trial in USA vs. Karl Brandt et al., commonly known as the Doctors' Trial. At the trial, several of the doctors argued in their defense that there was no international law regarding medical experimentation. Some doctors also claimed that they had been doing the world a favor. An SS doctor was quoted saying that "Jews were the festering appendix in the body of Europe." He then went on to argue he was doing the world a favor by eliminating them.
The issue of informed consent had previously been controversial in German medicine in 1900, when Dr. Albert Neisser infected patients (mainly prostitutes) with syphilis without their consent. Despite Neisser's support from most of the academic community, public opinion, led by psychiatrist Albert Moll, was against Neisser. While Neisser went on to be fined by the Royal Disciplinary Court, Moll developed "a legally based, positivistic contract theory of the patient-doctor relationship" that was not adopted into German law. Eventually, the minister for religious, educational, and medical affairs issued a directive stating that medical interventions other than for diagnosis, healing, and immunization were excluded under all circumstances if "the human subject was a minor or not competent for other reasons", or if the subject had not given his or her "unambiguous consent" after a "proper explanation of the possible negative consequences" of the intervention, though this was not legally binding.
In response, Drs. Leo Alexander and Andrew Conway Ivy, the American Medical Association representative at the Doctors' Trial, drafted a ten-point memorandum entitled Permissible Medical Experiment that went on to be known as the Nuremberg Code. The code calls for such standards as voluntary consent of patients, avoidance of unnecessary pain and suffering, and that there must be a belief that the experimentation will not end in death or disability. The Code was not cited in any of the findings against the defendants and never made it into either German or American medical law. This code comes from the Nuremberg Trials where the most heinous of Nazi leaders were put on trial for their war crimes. To this day, the Nuremberg Code remains a major stepping stone for medical experimentation.
Andrew Conway Ivy stated the Nazi experiments were of no medical value. Data obtained from the experiments, however, has been used and considered for use in multiple fields, often causing controversy. Some object to the data's use purely on ethical grounds, disagreeing with the methods used to obtain it, while others have rejected the research only on scientific grounds, criticizing methodological inconsistencies. Those in favor of using the data argue that if it has practical value to save lives, it would be equally unethical not to use it. Arnold S. Relman, editor of The New England Journal of Medicine from 1977 till 1991, refused to allow the journal to publish any article that cited the Nazi experiments.
The results of the Dachau freezing experiments have been used in some late 20th century research into the treatment of hypothermia; at least 45 publications had referenced the experiments as of 1984, though the majority of publications in the field did not cite the research. Those who have argued in favor of using the research include Dr Robert Pozos from the University of Minnesota and Dr John Hayward from the University of Victoria. In a 1990 review of the Dachau experiments, Robert Berger concludes that the study has "all the ingredients of a scientific fraud" and that the data "cannot advance science or save human lives."
In 1989, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considered using data from Nazi research into the effects of phosgene gas, believing the data could help US soldiers stationed in the Persian Gulf at the time. They eventually decided against using it, on the grounds it would lead to criticism and similar data could be obtained from later studies on animals. Writing for Jewish Law, Baruch Cohen concluded that the EPA's "knee-jerk reaction" to reject the data's use was "typical, but unprofessional", arguing that it could have saved lives.
Controversy has also risen from the use of results of biological warfare testing done by the Imperial Japanese Army's Unit 731. The results from Unit 731 were kept classified by the United States until the majority of doctors involved were given pardons.
Bomber is a novel by Len Deighton that was published in the United Kingdom in 1970. It is the fictionalised account of "the events relating to the last flight of an RAF Bomber over Germany on the night of June 31st, 1943", a deliberately impossible date, in which an RAF bombing raid on the Ruhr area of western Germany goes wrong. In each chapter, the plot is advanced by seeing the progress of the day through the eyes of protagonists on both sides of the conflict.
Bomber was the first novel to be written on a word processor, the IBM MT/ST.Doctors' trial
The Doctors' trial (officially United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et al.) was the first of 12 trials for war crimes of German doctors that the United States authorities held in their occupation zone in Nuremberg, Germany, after the end of World War II. These trials were held before US military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg trials", formally the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).Twenty of the twenty-three defendants were medical doctors (Viktor Brack, Rudolf Brandt, and Wolfram Sievers were Nazi officials), and were accused of having been involved in Nazi human experimentation and mass murder under the guise of euthanasia. Josef Mengele, one of the leading Nazi doctors, had evaded capture.
The judges, heard before Military Tribunal I, were Walter B. Beals (presiding judge) from Washington, Harold L. Sebring from Florida, and Johnson T. Crawford from Oklahoma, with Victor C. Swearingen, a former special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States, as an alternate judge. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor and the chief prosecutor was James M. McHaney. The indictment was filed on 25 October 1946; the trial lasted from 9 December that year until 20 August 1947. Of the 23 defendants, seven were acquitted and seven received death sentences; the remainder received prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.Experimentation on prisoners
Throughout history, prisoners have been frequent participants in scientific, medical and social human subject research. Some of the research involving prisoners has been exploitative and cruel. Many of the modern protections for human subjects evolved in response to the abuses in prisoner research. Research involving prisoners is still conducted today, but prisoners are now one of the most highly protected groups of human subjectsGerhard Rose
Gerhard August Heinrich Rose (November 30, 1896 in Danzig – January 13, 1992 in Obernkirchen) was a German expert on tropical medicine. Participating in Nazi human experimentation at Dachau and Buchenwald, he infected Jews, Romani people, and the mentally ill with malaria and typhus. Sentenced to life in prison, he was released in 1953.Guidelines for human subject research
Various organizations have created guidelines for human subject research for various kinds of research involving human subject research and for various situations.Hermann Becker-Freyseng
Hermann Becker-Freyseng (18 July 1910 in Ludwigshafen – 27 August 1961 in Heidelberg) was a German physician and consultant for aviation medicine with the Luftwaffe during the Nazi era. He was recognised as a leading specialist in aviation medicine. Becker-Freyseng was one of those convicted at the Doctors' Trial.Horst Schumann
Horst Schumann (1 May 1906 – 5 May 1983), SS-Sturmbannführer (major) and medical doctor, conducted sterilization and castration experiments at Auschwitz and was particularly interested in the mass sterilization of Jews by means of X-rays.Hubertus Strughold
Hubertus Strughold (June 15, 1898 – September 25, 1986) was a German-born physiologist and prominent medical researcher. Beginning in 1935 he served as chief of aeromedical research for the Luftwaffe, holding this position throughout World War II. In 1947 he was brought to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip and held a series of high-ranking medical positions with both the US Air Force and NASA.
For his role in pioneering the study of the physical and psychological effects of manned spaceflight he became known as "The Father of Space Medicine". Following his death, Strughold's activities in Germany during World War II came under greater scrutiny and allegations surrounding his involvement in Nazi-era human experimentation greatly diminished his reputation.Human experimentation in North Korea
Human experimentation in North Korea is an issue raised by some North Korean defectors and former prisoners. They have described suffocation of prisoners in gas chambers, testing deadly chemical weapons, and surgery without anesthesia. None of the allegations have been proven or backed up by any evidence, but they have been widely discussed and mediated by many notable media nonetheless.Jay Katz
Jacob "Jay" Katz (October 20, 1922 – November 17, 2008) was an American physician and Yale Law School professor whose career was devoted to addressing complex issues of medical ethics and other ethical problems involving the overlaps of ethics, law, medicine and psychology.Joachim Mrugowsky
Joachim Mrugowsky (15 August 1905 in Rathenow, Brandenburg – 2 June 1948 in Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech) was a German hygienist. He was Associate Professor, Medical Doctorate, Chief of Hygiene Institute of the Waffen-SS, Senior Hygienist at the Reich, SS-Physician, SS and Waffen-SS Colonel. He was found guilty of war crimes following the war in the Doctors' Trial and executed in 1948.Johann Kremer
Johann Paul Kremer (26 December 1883 – 8 January 1965) was a professor of anatomy and human genetics at Münster University who joined the Wehrmacht on May 20, 1941. He served in the SS in the Auschwitz concentration camp as a physician during World War II, from 30 August 1942 to 18 November 1942.
A member of the NSDAP, he was involved in Nazi human experimentation on the prisoners of Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was sentenced to death in the Auschwitz Trial, but this sentence was later commuted to one of life imprisonment. He was released in 1958.
Kremer received notoriety for his diary, which recounted mundane day to day activities interspersed with entries of his witnessing murder and depravity through gassings and special actions.
September 5, 1942 : In the morning attended a special action from the women's concentration camp; the most dreadful of horrors. Obersturmführer Thilo (troop doctor) was right when he said to me that this is the anus mundi. In the evening towards 8:00 attended another special action from Holland [sic]. Because of the special rations they get a fifth of a liter of schnapps, 5 cigarettes, 100 g salami and bread, the men all clamor to take part in such actions. Today and tomorrow (Sunday) work.Karl Genzken
Karl August Genzken (born June 8, 1885 in Preetz, Schleswig-Holstein, Prussia – October 10, 1957 in Hamburg, Germany) was a Nazi physician who conducted human experiments on prisoners of several concentration camps. He was a Gruppenführer (Major General) of the Waffen-SS and the Chief of the Medical Office of the Waffen-SS. Genzken was tried as a war criminal in the Doctors' Trial at Nuremberg.List of medical eponyms with Nazi associations
This article lists medical eponyms which have been associated with Nazi human experimentation or Nazi politics. While normally eponyms used in medicine serve to honor the memory of the physician or researcher who first documented a disease or pioneered a procedure, the propriety of such names resulting from unethical research practices is controversial. In some cases terms closely related to doctors in the Nazi era have fallen out of favor or there are active lobbying efforts to remove the original name from use. In other cases their use in the medical literature is sometimes presented with a caveat or footnote.
The declining use of the Nazi-era eponyms has itself been tracked in the literature. Since 2007, the Israel Medical Association Journal and European Neurology have each published articles cataloging eponyms honoring Nazis and their collaborators. While the most direct Nazi experimenters (such as Josef Mengele) were never honored, others who were members of the Nazi party or whose research relied upon the Nazi program—such as conducting research on the remains of Nazi execution victims—have been honored.
Some physicians have used the Nazi associations as an argument to discontinue the use of eponyms in medical naming conventions altogether, while others have argued that such Nazi-associated eponyms should be retained as "a means of conveying immortal dishonor." Both the Israel Medical Association Journal and European Neurology articles advocated that eponyms honoring victims of the Nazis be retained, while eponyms honoring Nazi collaborators or benefactors be replaced.Luftwaffe
The Luftwaffe (German pronunciation: [ˈlʊftvafə] (listen)) was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II. Germany's military air arms during World War I, the Luftstreitkräfte of the Army and the Marine-Fliegerabteilung of the Navy, had been disbanded in May 1920 as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which stated that Germany was forbidden to have any air force.
During the interwar period, German pilots were trained secretly in violation of the treaty at Lipetsk Air Base. With the rise of the Nazi Party and the repudiation of the Versailles Treaty, the Luftwaffe was officially established on 26 February 1935, just over a fortnight before open defiance of the Versailles Treaty through German re-armament and conscription would be announced on 16 March. The Condor Legion, a Luftwaffe detachment sent to aid Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, provided the force with a valuable testing ground for new tactics and aircraft. Partially as a result of this combat experience, the Luftwaffe had become one of the most sophisticated, technologically advanced, and battle-experienced air forces in the world when World War II broke out in 1939. By the summer of 1939, the Luftwaffe had twenty-eight Geschwader (wings). The Luftwaffe also operated Fallschirmjäger paratrooper units.
The Luftwaffe proved instrumental in the German victories across Poland and Western Europe in 1939 and 1940. During the Battle of Britain, however, despite inflicting severe damage to the RAF's infrastructure and, during the subsequent Blitz, devastating many British cities, the German air force failed to batter the beleaguered British into submission. From 1942, Allied bombing campaigns gradually destroyed the Luftwaffe's fighter arm. From late 1942, the Luftwaffe used its surplus ground, support and other personnel to raise Luftwaffe Field Divisions. In addition to its service in the West, the Luftwaffe operated over the Soviet Union, North Africa and Southern Europe. Despite its belated use of advanced turbojet and rocket propelled aircraft for the destruction of Allied bombers, the Luftwaffe was overwhelmed by the Allies' superior numbers and improved tactics, and a lack of trained pilots and aviation fuel. In January 1945, during the closing stages of the Battle of the Bulge, the Luftwaffe made a last-ditch effort to win air superiority, and met with failure. With rapidly dwindling supplies of petroleum, oil, and lubricants after this campaign, and as part of the entire combined Wehrmacht military forces as a whole, the Luftwaffe ceased to be an effective fighting force.
After the defeat of Germany, the Luftwaffe was disbanded in 1946. During World War II, German pilots claimed roughly 70,000 aerial victories, while over 75,000 Luftwaffe aircraft were destroyed or significantly damaged. Of these, nearly 40,000 were lost entirely. The Luftwaffe had only two commanders-in-chief throughout its history: Hermann Göring and later Generalfeldmarschall Robert Ritter von Greim for the last two weeks of the war.
The Luftwaffe was deeply involved in Nazi war crimes. By the end of the war, a significant percentage of aircraft production originated in concentration camps, an industry employing tens of thousands of prisoners. The Luftwaffe's demand for labor was one of the factors that led to the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews in 1944. The Oberkommando der Luftwaffe organized Nazi human experimentation, and Luftwaffe ground troops committed massacres in Italy, Greece, and Poland.Outline of World War II
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to World War II:
World War II, or the Second World War – global military conflict from 1939 to 1945, which was fought between the Allied powers of the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union against the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan, with their respective allies. Over 60 million people, the majority of them civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.Rose Under Fire
Rose Under Fire is a young adult historical novel by Elizabeth Wein, set in World War II and published in 2013.
The novel follows Rose Justice, an 18-year-old American volunteer Air Transport Auxiliary pilot who is captured by the Luftwaffe on a flight in France in 1944, and is sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Imprisoned together with Polish victims of Nazi human experimentation and Red Army prisoners of war, she survives the camp thanks to her poetry and friendship with the other captives, eventually escaping to later participate in the Hamburg Ravensbrück Trials and the Doctors' Trial against Nazi war criminals. The novel follows up Wein's previous novel Code Name Verity, and a few characters from that novel appear in Rose Under Fire.Vivisection
Vivisection (from Latin vivus, meaning 'alive', and sectio, meaning 'cutting'), also known as V-section, is surgery conducted for experimental purposes on a living organism, typically animals with a central nervous system, to view living internal structure. The word is, more broadly, used as a pejorative catch-all term for experimentation on live animals by organizations opposed to animal experimentation, but the term is rarely used by practising scientists. Human vivisection, such as live organ harvesting, has been perpetrated as a form of torture. However, as vivisection etymologically means a surgery on a living being, all forms of open surgery on living people are literally human vivisection.Women in World War II
Women in the Second World War took on many different roles during the War, including as combatants and workers on the home front. The Second World War involved global conflict on an unprecedented scale; the absolute urgency of mobilizing the entire population made the expansion of the role of women inevitable, although the particular roles varied from country to country. Millions of women of various ages died as a result of the war.