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The fruition of eugenics began with Francis Galton. The term “good creation” was created to produce an elite group based on genetics. The Nazis viewed the population problem as a biological problem, specifically with the Jewish and Gypsy populations. The Nazi transformation of the medical system was grounded on sterilization of those who should produce which includes the above population, as well as the mentally ill. Many medical researchers were a fan of such sterilization techniques. One of them was Otmar Von Verscheur who often denied marriages of the Jewish population, stating that they were unfit and should be sterilized. At the beginning of the Hitler regime, it was on the ground of mental unstableness. However, both von Versheur and Mengele were encouraged to sterilize, especially in their work together in concentration camps. Although von Versheur did not personally work at the concentration camp, both he and Mengele worked on the genetic differences between such populations and twin studies. These will be the experiments most highlighted in this paper. Otmar von Vershuer and Josef Mengele played a role in controlling the “non-elite” population, highlighting differences in making the German race superior, but also supplied research to make the population unanimous.
At the start of Adolf Hitler’s rule, science took a dark turn in a period that lasted from 1933 to 1945. This dark science was focused on race biology, specifically how to define genetics to encourage the genetic difference gap between the Germans and “others”. World War I resulted in the trend of antisemitism and race variance in Germany because the non-Germans were perceived to be the cause of them losing the war from the stereotype of them stabbing them in the back. Since genetics highlighted the difference between races, it could be a solution to control and eliminate the handicapped of society to create the perfect German race. The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Genetics, and Eugenics were placed as the scientific head to this inquiry.
In 1940, Otmar Von Verschuer joined the Nazi party, but he was a long supporter of the violent antisemitism of the Nazis. His worked gain notoriety back in 1932 through his invasive research on Jewish twins. During his lectures on the topic, he often discussed the Jewish people as not only inferior but a race foreign to German like African Americans, Gypsies, or Mongolians. In fact, von Versheur adamantly believed that man can shape the future. His first project at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute highlighted the race biology of Jews. The project was aimed at determining the differences between Ashkenazim Jews and Caucasian non-Jews in genes that lead to genetic diseases or cancer. Von Versheur vouched that the difference in genes explains the behavior of the Jewish community often called Jewry. Von Versheur and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute labeled this as a danger to the German people. Von Versheur gave the necessary propaganda to the government to mark the once Jewish citizens, as outcasts and segregation was a necessary starting point for the good of the people.
In 1937, von Versheur was the head of another Eugenic research project at the Frankfurt Institute, a collaborator with the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in utilizing science to justify Nazi politics. After World War I, the French occupation force was abundant in many parts of Germany often having children with German citizens. Von Versheur analyzed the genes of the suspected illegitimate children, who were suspected based on their darker coloring. If they were to be found genetically illegitimate, they would be sterilized. This is the beginning of the sterilization methods both Verscheur and Mengele used in their experiments. Also, in 1937, Versehur was responsible for many cases dealing with the paternity of half-Jews. He testified to getting many imprisoned for deceiving the German people with the notion of a non-Jewish father. In a case dealing with the Genetic Health Court System in Germany, they found a Gypsy woman who desired to marry a German man as fit to marry. However, Von Versheur appealed based on grounds that as a Gypsy, she was feeble-minded and should be sterilized, as well as placed in a mental institution for insinuating such beliefs. Von Versheur fought for the law of the sterilization of all Gypsies, which labeled his dark science as legal in the eyes of the state.
In 1942, von Versheur became the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. With this newfound power, he began his extensive study on twins. Initially, he started determining the difference in blood groups between the set of twins based on the clotting factors. The study being blood group analysis provided that identical twins contained the same blood group. The subject of these twin studies were Gypsies, a group of people which von Versheur was one of the leading men to strip away their autonomy for his use in dark science.
It is not surprising that von Versehur was Josef Mengele’s mentor since much of Versheur’s early work evolved the level of scientific curiosity with Mengele’s work in the concentration camps. The role of Mengele at the concentration camps was to eliminate the Jewish race. Von Versheur and Mengele collaborated on their work of determining the genetic differences of the Jewish and the Gypsy population in resistance to various infectious diseases, like tuberculosis and typhoid/typhus. The concentration camps were the perfect environment for these scientists because they could do whatever they desired with these prisoners, as their death was the solution to the Jewish epidemic.
Mengele performed many illegal experiments outside of the protection of science and outside of von Versheur’s knowledge. Documents were found regarding his illegal activities that demonstrated his horrific scientific curiosity in torturing. On June 1st, 1943, the cultivated virus germ that led to the death of animals was contracted into prisoners, to determine if the same response would occur to humans. The same results occurred with the prisoners dying of deadly fevers. A year later May 19, 1944, to determine whether oxygen levels had any effect on a new fever serum. Jewish prisoners were experimented on with slight oxygen and no oxygen. Mengele tortured Jewish prisoners with very little oxygen for 30 minutes, until they stopped breathing. In many cases, Severest cyanosis produced a foam that poured out of the prisoner’s mouths. In the autopsy report, the spinal marrow was severed, and the brain was removed. The result was heavy subarachnoid edema found in the brain due to oxygen loss. Air was trapped in veins and arteries of the brain which led to the death of many prisoners. Those that were considered Jewish criminals due to their past of interracial relationships were subjected to cooling experiments where they were forced underwater and free air in the ventricles of the brain caused air embolisms of these prisoners. Many of these prisoners were placed in helmets and heavy uniforms underwater that in retrospect after the embolism, the brain stem could be found protruding above the water. Furthermore, prisoners were placed underwater under narcotics where their body heat would diminish to the point of death.
Mengele’s experimentation is recounted by his slave assistant, Nyiszli. Those with body anomalies were examined by Nyiszli and then shot for further dissection. The bones of the corpses were sent to von Versheur for further studying. On May 22, 1944, as many, as fourteen Gypsy twin girls were taken into his room, ordered to be undressed, injected with chloroform to be put into a deep sleep, medically violated, and injected with chloroform in the left ventricle of the heart to be easily killed for dissection. Fourteen girls were taken because he believed his assistants could dissect that many bodies in a day, the only reason the fates of many Gypsy twin girls were saved was that the assistants could only handle up to four bodies a day for precise work. The organs were of these girls were covered in alcohol and sent to von Versheur for his own research on twin studies. On January 29th, 1943, many Gypsies that were sent to Auschwitz, were first taken to Mengele’s lab. Genetic defects became a personal project for von Verushe, as well as Mengele. The prevalence of heterochromatic eyes in German Gypsies could be easily studied within the camp. These eye anomalies were sent to von Versheur, where he determined inherited malformations through the genes that synthesize enzymes that disrupt eye pigment in the retina. Back at the concentration camp, those with eye anomalies were encouraged to be killed for their eyes to be collected in the use of science. Mengele experimented with the implantation of blue eye color on Gypsy twins, which often ended to blindness, and in turn they were killed. In a position of possibly staying alive or heading into the gas chamber, many parents convinced the Nazis that similarly featured children were twins or that their children had “unique eyes”. Therefore, this experimentation on race biology was extremely inaccurate. When other organs were sent back, along with the eyes to von Versheur, he analyzed it to find that the Jewish race is less susceptible to tuberculosis than the Germans.
A population that contains an NRAMP1 is accurately more susceptible to tuberculosis, but to back up his hypothesis, von Versheur used the early work of Prof. Dr. Emil Abderhalden These defense enzymes contained proteases that were specified in the assembly of infectious diseases. Von Versheur built his case on the assumption that the specified type or the number of enzymes differentiated between races of the Jewish and German people. Near the end of 1943, von Versheur began testing tuberculosis in monozygotic and dizygotic twins. The disparities in tuberculosis with dizygotic twins, but not monozygotic were quite apparent. Thus, in 1944, Mengele began the same project to determine his research finding. He focused tuberculosis research on racial differentiation of the Eastern and Western Jews. Both the Eastern and Western Jews were given the same amount of typhus injections. Western Jews were found to be much less resistant, but all participants died within the ten-day research experiment. Mengele performed the same study on Gypsy twins, he continuously injected them with typhus to determine how each set of twins would react. Once he received a response, he sent the twins to the gas chamber. Other times when one twin was injected, the other was not.
However, when one died, the other was shot to determine to be further analyzed and invaded. The research on these enzymes went back and forth between von Versheur and Mengele, but no real conclusion was made based on the research. The same general finding of some genetic resistance to tuberculosis was found, but the science behind enzymes contributing to tuberculosis was still shaky due to the lack of proof. Research persisted until 1945 with the eventual liberation of Auschwitz and Mengele fleeing to a different continent. That same year, it is suspected that von Versheur destroyed all ties to Mengele and their corresponding studies.
In Germany, eugenics ended with World War II. However, the fear persisted within Mengele and von Versehur to the extent that one fled and the other destroyed years of his work. The reason behind this was their particular use of research methods von Versheur and Mengele used were a part of a larger pseudoscience conspiracy where the research findings were fictitious. Defense enzymes could not be found in one race over the other because these enzymes did not exist. The fake science behind these projects provided a reason for their mass murder, not in the name of scientific inquiry. The roles that Otmar von Verschuer and Josef Mengele played in Adolf Hitler’s war against the weak was that of the Plague that infested the lives of communities and would have caused the extinction of several races of people.
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