Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 28, 2014

Today’s Frozen Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Let’s talk some more about despicable Sigmund Rascher (12 February 1909 – 26 April 1945), 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.

To determine the most effective means for treating German pilots who had become severely chilled from ejecting into the ocean, or German soldiers who suffered extreme exposure on the Russian front, Rascher and others conducted freezing experiments at Dachau. For up to five hours at a time, they placed victims into vats of icy water, either in aviator suits or naked; they took others outside in the freezing cold and strapped them down naked. As the victims writhed in pain, foamed at the mouth, and lost consciousness, the doctors measured changes in the patients’ heart rate, body temperature, muscle reflexes, and other factors. When a prisoner’s internal body temperature fell to 79.7°F, the doctors tried rewarming him using hot sleeping bags, scalding baths, even naked women forced to copulate with the victim. Some 80 to 100 patients perished during these experiments.

Culled from: Nova

Rascher, on the right, during one of his freezing experiments:

My Brush With Morbidity by David Baker

“I grew up in Northern Vermont in a river valley that was sparsely populated.   There is a small cemetery a mile or so from my childhood home where a lot of local folks who are unaffiliated with any specific church choose to be buried.   It was adjacent to a small stable where a local man kept an old Morgan horse.  The kids in the neighborhood,  (All 4 of us on a five mile stretch of road.),  would occasionally meet by the old grave marker at the corner of the cemetery, feed the old horse sugar cubes, and plot our days activities.

“One spring morning I arrived early to feed the horse and wait for my friends and discovered a backhoe was parked next to road near the entrance to the cemetery.   I quickly scanned the graves and found an open grave had been dug and prepped for a funeral.  This sounds highly unlikely to anybody who understands liability and the dangers of leaving a six foot hole in the ground, but this was a rural, sparsely populated area, and the fellow from the septic company who owned the backhoe would return later in time for the funeral to wrap up.   It had always been this way.

“Shortly, my friends arrived and we all became entranced by the deep hole in the ground and pondered, in the ways children can anyway, our own mortalities.   As we stood there my friends dog, Max, began sniffing too closely to the edge which gave away enough for him to fall to the bottom.  Being young and constantly disciplined for our juvenile antics, we were keen to get Max out of the hole, and on our way home without anybody knowing.   One of us ran home to get a step ladder.  Meanwhile, Max was becoming increasingly irritated at being stuck in a hole in the ground and was trying to claw his way up the sides of the grave.

“This is how the adjacent casket was knocked loose.  Max, attempting to dig his way up the side of the grave collapsed the rotted side of the casket of “loving husband” who had been in the ground nearby hidden by only a couple inches of clay.   He had been in the ground long enough to cause three young boys and a german shepherd-yellow lab mix sudden heart attacks.   I remember seeing his grey suit, a waxy yellow head shaped object with no hair, a mud covered pillow, and one arm was wearing a silver wrist watch. The upper half of him drifted on it’s back on a mess of filthy water and slurched into the dirt of the open hole.  The bottom half of his body must have been caught on something as he only fell part way into the grave.  At this point one of us grabbed the ankles of the youngest boy who grabbed Max by his collar and nearly strangled him pulling him out.  Soon we were running thru the woods toward the brook gagging at the smell that had seemed to saturate everything.

“We spent the next three days in a terror that we were going to get caught. Not that we had done anything wrong, exactly.   But nothing ever came of it other than Austin’s father wondering ‘What road kill Max had gotten into this time’. The boy who had run for the ladder was convinced we were spooking him, but the stink on the dog was proof enough and prevented him from going back.  I can only guess that the fellow with the backhoe had decided it was an accident on his part and had ‘taken care of it’ somehow before the funeral.  Nothing was ever mentioned in the local paper, sewing circles, or other rumor mills. The three of us who had seen the body only mentioned it to each other in hushed tones in the privacy of late night campfires or sleepovers. Mustering the courage to visit a few years later I noticed that the date of the grave was from the late 1960s, which was odd considering there was no concrete vault for the casket and that it smelled so foul 20 years later in the age of embalming.

“Not that I’m a forensic expert, by any stretch.”

Some kids have all the luck! – DeSpair

Death and the Maiden

Z Constantine recommends a blog entitled “Death and the Maiden” which is all about…  you guessed it!

Death and the Maiden

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