|Sigmund Rascher (12 February 1909 – 26 April 1945) was a German SS doctor. His deadly experiments on humans, which were carried out in the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau, were judged inhumane and criminal during the Nuremberg Trials.In 1942, Sigmund Rascher and others conducted high-altitude experiments on prisoners at Dachau. Eager to find out how best to save German pilots forced to eject at high altitude, they placed inmates into low-pressure chambers that simulated altitudes as high as 68,000 feet and monitored their physiological response as they succumbed and died. Rascher was said to dissect victims’ brains while they were still alive to show that high-altitude sickness resulted from the formation of tiny air bubbles in the blood vessels of a certain part of the brain. Of 200 people subjected to these experiments, 80 died outright and the remainder were executed.In a typical experiment, detailed in a report by Rascher and his colleagues, a deli clerk was forced to endure an excruciating drop from 47,000 ft. without the aid of oxygen. Diligently, Rascher noted the subject’s behavior:2
- “spasmodic convultions”
- “gives the general impression of someone who is completely out of his mind”
- “does not respond to speech”
- “grimaces, bites his tongue”
- “convulses arms and legs”
- “yells aloud”
- “clonic conclusions, groaning”
- “agonal convulsive breathing”
The lurid Nuremberg testimony of Rascher’s prisoner assistant Antòn Pacholegg tells a similar story:3
“I personally saw, through the observation window of the chamber, how a prisoner inside was subjected to a vacuum until his lungs burst. Certain experiments produced such a pressure in the men’s heads that they went mad, tearing their hair out in an effort to relieve it. They lacerated their heads and faces with their nails, mutilating themselves in their frenzy.”
Culled from: Nova and Mad Scientist Blog
Here’s a photograph of Rascher. Ain’t he sweet? He wouldn’t even hurt a lil’ baby. Except, it turns out, that baby isn’t even his. It was kidnapped. What an evil scientist.
And here are some poor souls subjected to the altitude tests…
And here’s a post-mortem on one of the many victims. After the war, the United States used Rascher’s data for the benefit of the Air Force. Isn’t it nice to know that it all went to something “useful”?