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Auschwitz – Dr Kremer indulges his medical curiosity

The railway entrance to Auschwitz in 1945.

In Auschwitz Dr Kremer was keeping a diary filled with the mundane detail of what he was having for lunch, when he turned the heating on, etc. He also made reference to “live extractions”:

10 October 1942
Extracted and fixed fresh live material from liver, spleen and pancreas. Got prisoners to make me a signature stamp. For first time heated the room. More cases of typhus fever and Typhus abdominalis. Camp quarantine continues.

11 October 1942
Today, Sunday, there was roast hare for lunch – a real fat leg – with dumplings and red cabbage for 1.25 RM.

12 October 1942
Second inoculation against typhus, later on in evening severe generalized reaction (fever). Despite this in the night attended a further Sonderaktion from Holland (1,600 persons). Ghastly scenes in front of the last bunker! (Hossler!) That was the 10th Sonderaktion.

13 October 1942
Untersturmfuhrer Vetter arrived. Sturmbannfuhrer Casar also gone down with typhus after his wife died of it only a few days ago. Attended the sentencing and subsequent execution of seven Polish civilians.

At his trial in Cracow in 1947 he was asked to explain what these references to extractions meant. “For a long time I had been interested in changes in the human organism as a result of hunger.” He had asked and was given permission to make a personal study of such cases. The subjects came from those prisoners in the Auschwitz who were reported to the sick bay:

During the course of these examinations the prison doctors presented the patients to the SS doctor and described the illness the prisoner in question was suffering from. The SS doctor then decided what the prospects were for this patient to recover, whether he was already unfit for work, whether he should be sent to the sick-bay or treated as an out-patient or else whether he should be liquidated.


I observed the prisoners in this group carefully and whenever one of them particularly interested me because of his advanced stage of starvation, I ordered the medical orderly to reserve him and to inform me when this patient would be killed by injection.

At the appointed time the patients I had selected were led into the same end block and taken to the room on the other side of the corridor, opposite the room where they had originally been examined and selected.

The patient was laid down still alive on the dissection table. I would go up to the table and ask the patient to give me some details essential for my research. For example, for his weight before his detention, how much weight he had lost since his detention, whether he had taken any medication recently, etc.

After I had been given this information a medical orderly would come and kill the patient with an injection in the heart area. To my knowledge all these patients were killed with phenol injections. The patient died immediately after being given such an injection.

I myself never administered fatal injections.

This was just a personal interest, a hobby, for Dr Kremer.

See The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders

Johann Paul Kremer after his arrest. He was tried for war crimes in 1947 , convicted and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was released in 1958 and he died in 1965.

On the same day a group of Nazi doctors were reporting on a series of medical experiments that were conducted under authority. Apparently on behalf of the Luftwaffe, the idea was to discover how long someone could survive when plunged into cold water:

If the experimental subject was placed in the water under narcosis, one observed a certain arousing effect. The subject began to groan and made some defensive movements. In a few cases a state of excitation developed. This was especially severe in the cooling of head and neck. But never was a complete cessation of the narcosis observed.

The defensive movements ceased after about 5 minutes. There followed a progressive rigor, which developed especially strongly in the arm musculature; the arms were strongly flexed and pressed to the body. The rigor increased with the continuation of the cooling, now and then interrupted by tonic-clonic twitchings. With still more marked sinking of the body temperature it suddenly ceased.

These cases ended fatally, without any successful results from resuscitation efforts.

Report by Prof. Dr. Holzloehner, Dr. Rascher, and Dr. Finke, regarding cooling experiments, 10 October 1942
[Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals – Washington, U.S Govt. Print. Off., 1949-1953, Vol. I, p. 226-243]

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