University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Research and Science

    Research and Science

    Research and Science

    Willers Jessen, Remarkable observations on sterilized hereditarily diseased individuals of the Giessen mental hospital, Dissertation, Giessen 1937

    In his medical dissertation and under the supervision of a senior physician of the institution, Willers lessen examined 78 inmates of the mental hospital, who had undergone forced sterilization. He emphasized all racial prejudices with respect to disabled and sick people, presupposed a special sexual responsiveness in "feeble-minded" individuals, detected several "defects" in the clans related to inmates of the institution and, consequently, responsible for their genetic material.

    Postgraduate In the Giessen mental hospital, after 1933

    Enquiry by the Frankfurt university's institute for biology and racial hygiene concerning the inspection of files of patients of the Marburg mental hospital, 8th June 1936

    The Frankfurt "Insitut für Erbbioiogie and Rassen-hygiene" (institute for heredobiology and racial hygiene), inaugurated in 1935 under its director Prof. Dr. Otmar von Verschuer in the "Haus der Volksgesundheit" (House of national health) on the south-side of the river Main, focused upon family and twins research. In 1939, Verschuer wrote about the three-year project: "'Medical and anthropological data could be collected from more than 80 per cent of the long-standing population of individuals over six years of age, Self-reports could be collected from approximately 2,800 individuals. These data were complemented with a total of more than 15,000 excerpts from doctors' files, hospitals, sanatoriums, health authorities etc. Case records and school reports, partly dating back to the year 1838, were also collected, ... By linking heredobiological and medical clan research with historical and genealogical inquiries, it was possible to give an impressive picture of how much career efficiency, the capacity of integration into the community, and especially the disposition for diseases in certain clans and even villages depended on the genetic material;' (Vier Jahre Frankfurter Universitäts-Institut..., in: Der Erbarzt 27, May 1939, p. 57-63)

    Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, no date

    Prof. Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer (1896-1969), was one of the most important racial hygienists of the "Third Reich". Since 1927, he was head of department for anthropology with the Kaiser-Wilheim-Institute in Berlin-Dahlem, and in 1935 became head of the "Institut fur Erbbiologie and Rassenhygiene" (Institute for heredobiology and racial hygiene) in Frankfurt a.M. In 1942, he returned to the "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut fur Anthropologie, menschliche Erblehre and Eugenik" (Institute for anthropology, human hereditary teaching and eugenics) in Berlin. His former assistant from Frankfurt, Dr. Dr. Joseph Mengele, now a physician with a focus on twin research in the concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz, supplied him with "examined material" such as the eyes of killed "Gypsies', skeletons of killed Jews,>> and serums of some twins whom Mengele had infected with typhus.

    In 1945, Verschuer escaped to Bebra together with several railway wagons full of material. In 1946, convicted as a "follower", a Court of Arbitration fined him to 600, -- RM. He subsequently established the biggest institute for human genetics of the Federal Republic of Germany in Munster and obtained numerous awards.

    Carl Schneider, no date

    From 1930-1933 he was the first medical head of the von Bodelschwinghsche Anstalten (institutions of von Bodelschwingh) in Bethel; after Hitler's "seizure of power", he was offered the chair for psychiatry and neurology with the university of Heidelberg. His predecessor was driven out.

    In psychiatry, Schneider was a decisive representative of the "active-biological therapy" and the "critical research of the healing processes based on experience". Dr. Hans Hefelmann (former colleague in the chancellery of the Führer) declared in the post-war proceedings: "Immediately after implementation of the mental home programme during World War II, it was generally agreed that both the manpower of the institutions as well as medicine and therapies saved by euthanasia measures should be used for the benefit of the remaining 80% of inmates in the institutions. For this purpose Schneider, professor of the university of Heidelberg, an expert In psychiatry, agreed to be appointed to die Reichsarbeits-gemeinschaft, in order to further develop therapy and research. These circumstances emphasized the moral justification for implementing the measures of euthanasia..." (quotation according to Aly 1985, p. 50). Consequently, since April 1940, Schneider not only became a "T-4" expert, but also established a "Forschungsanstalt des Reichsausschusses" (research institute of the Reich committee) in Wiesloch, which was connected to his institute. As psychiatrist he tested the application of occupational therapy in connection with pharmacological and electric shock procedures. Dr. Friedrich Mennecke (Eichberg) and Dr. Mathilde Weber (Kalmenhof) were both trained by him. In the anatomy of the "Research institute", Schneider carried out histo-pathological examinations of the brain in order to examine "idiocy", Most of the "material" he received came from the "Children's' Specialty Departments" of the mental homes such as Eichberg and Kalmenhof where children were killed for research purposes.

    Schneider hanged himself while he was in American confinement in December 1946.

    Behandlung and Verhütung der Geistes-kranheiten von Carl Schneider (Treatment and prevention of mental diseases by Carl Schneider), Berlin: Julius Sprenger 1939

    After five years of activity as director of the neurological-psychiatric clinic of Heidelberg university, Carl Schneider published his masterpiece on the "treatment and prevention of mental diseases". The work contains a big part on the psychiatric therapies and their principles especially used during the thirties.

    Request of the research department of the psychiatric-neurological clinic of Heidelberg concerning a child under research, 6th July 1944

    Scientific teamwork of IG-Farben-industrie with Dr: Mennecke, director of the Eichberg mental hospital Eichberg, 13th December 1939

    The person in charge mentioned in the letterhead as Dr.W was Dr. Julius Weber, proxy of the chemical-pharmaceutical and sero-bacteriological department of IG-Farben in Frankturt-Hoechst. In 1943, together with Prof. Dr. Carl Lautenschläger; he was responsible for testing the typhus preparation 3582 "Akridin" in the concentration camp Buchenwald. 21 inmates died in this experiment.

    There is evidence that the preparation 9736 tested on the male and female patients of the Eichberg mental hospital was Neosalvarsan, designed to be used as a chemotherapy agent against syphilis.

    III. 18
    Friedrich Mennecke and Eva W. while working in the laboratories of the Eichberg mental hospital, 1936

    Mennecke's future wife, a medical-technical assistant herself, worked as a volunteer for Mennecke's research projects.