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135 of 147 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2005
Vivien Spitz is half German by heritage but, she strongly indicts her countrymen in this chilling account of horrific "medical experiments" that Nazi doctors and medical assistants performed on innocent people. The descriptions of what was done is creepy but the story must be told. Ms. Spitz was the youngest court reporter during the Nuremberg trials as she transcribed the testimony in the trals of medical personnel. She documents a dozen types of experiments and, some truly had no medical value but were done only for the sake of perpetrating inhumanity to non Arians, most of whom were Jews and Gypsies. There were other vicitms as well, such as Russians. Among the defendants, some were sentenced to death, others to prison terms of varying legnths and a total of seven were acquitted. The acquittals were probably due to the court leaning over backwards to make the trials look fair.

An example of an experiment that was done with no possible scientific value was to force victims to drink brackish seawater to see the effects. Of course this made the victims sick and drove them mad. Most did not survive. Another awful experiment was to amputate limbs and attempt to transpant them to others. Without modern microsurgery and anti rejection medication, this could never have possibly worked but these ghouls killed and permanently maimed people in the name of science. Even if this experiment could have worked, the real purpose was to do the most horrible acts of brutality on the victims, not to accumulate medical knowledge. Horrible diseases, such as malaria were deliberately introduced to vicitims. Another horrible experiment was to lock victims into vaultlike chambers where the atmospheric conditions of 68,000 feet in altitude could be simulated.

Ms. Spitz is truly a wonderful person as she makes sure that holocaust deniers don't get away with their revisionism. She has confronted them and, importantly, she has written this book. The book is difficult to read because of the horrors that are documented. Still, it should be read so that we never forget.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2005
Written by skilled journalist Vivian Spitz, who counts being the youngest court reporter at the Nuremberg Trials among her many accomplishments, Doctors From Hell: The Horrific Account Of Nazi Experiments On Humans presents literal testimonies of Nuremburg war crimes trials specifically pertaining to murderous medical experiments performed on living people. A bleak, stark, and severe account; the dry yet thoroughly detailed testimony speaks for itself. Information concerning the conviction and sentencing of defendants is also included. The author offers closing chapters about adapting to a normal life after her role in bearing witness to unspeakable atrocities, including her encounters with poisonous and sometimes threatening Holocaust deniers. A straightforward primary source appreciable to scholars and lay readers alike, and a welcome contribution to Holocaust Studies and reference shelves.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2005
Josef Mengele is a name that even people with a small knowledge about the Second World War knows about, or at least has heard mentioned sometime. He was the Nazi doctor who performed the most gruesome experiments on humans (especially twins) in the name of Nazi science, and after the end of the war he managed to escape the Allied forces and hid in South America, among other places, until his death.

But he was not the only one.

There were more men like him. Many more.

In 1946, a young Vivien Spitz was hired by the American war department to go across the Atlantic and attend the war trials in Nuremberg and report, document, and save to the world what the criminals confessed and didn't confess. She wasn't new to criminal world, having worked on trials in the U.S., and thus she thought she wouldn't have any problems doing what she was supposed to do. But Nuremberg after the end of the war was a bombed-out city, a wasteland with no hot water and filled with German terrorists who gladly attacked any representative of the Allied forces.

And if that wasn't enough, Spitz volunteered to (without really knowing what she was getting herself into, one must guess) to report from the interrogations with those Nazi doctors who had performed macabre experiments on humans (or "materiel" as they themselves referred to the inmates) in the many concentration camps around Europe. She wasn't naïve, she knew very well that horrible stories and descriptions were to be part of her daily routine, but she still wasn't able to remain untouched.

Here are some of the stories she was told in the court room:

People were forced to stand for hours in freezing water, so the doctors could see how long time it took until their death (which was interesting to the Luftwaffe in case their pilots were shot down over open water).

Malaria-experiments where people were infected with the virus (for troops fighting in foreign countries).

Amputations of arms and legs, burning of the skin, and other mutilations of the body (in order to simulate the injuries a soldier could suffer on a battlefield).

Poisoning of food (simply so the doctors could see how long it took for the ones eating it to die).

Different sterilizations (since Jews and Gypsies and other "non desirable materiel" were welcome to work but not reproduce).

People who had to live on nothing but seawater for days in a row, which resulted in both madness and death.

And so on. It's a scary book to read, especially when one reads about how the doctors explain it all away as duty and fighting for their Fatherland. But the book is also, here and there, quite boring with long sections of witnessing that don't really say anything interesting. Furthermore, considering how bizarre the experiments were, it would have been interesting to learn more about WHY the doctors did what they did, that is, how they as doctors could become such devoted Nazis. It's a well-known fact that some of the most brutal Nazis were "just like you and me" in their private life, but Doctors From Hell doesn't touch this aspect. It's an important and informative book but it would have been easy for Spitz to make it ever MORE important and MORE informative.
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66 of 75 people found the following review helpful
The reader of this book quickly learns that the gruesome experiments conducted against helpless victims were not just done by a few "warped" Nazi ideologues, such as the infamous "Angel of Death" Josef Mengele, but by a large cadre of German doctors. One also quickly realizes that the victims were not limited to Jews, but included members of various nationalities. Every imaginable grotesque experiment was performed. Perhaps the most instructive part of the book is chapter 14, which discusses forced sterilization. The Germans found that physical castration was too slow and costly. X-radiation often made the victims ill or killed them outright. A drug derived from a certain Brazilian plant induced sterility, and was tried on inmates.

What was said to be ultimately needed was a method of sterilization that could easily be employed en masse and was preferably one in which the victim did not know that he or she was sterilized. Obviously, mass sterilization was intended for very large target of victims. In fact, defendant Rudolf Brandt cited Heinrich Himmler (pp. 191-192), who stated that forced sterilization was to be used to exterminate not only Jews but also Russians and Poles. So, although the author Spitz does not develop this further, Himmler's statement adds proof to the fact that after the Jews, most of the Slavs were next in line for genocidal extermination. Mass shootings and gassings were useful for killing a few million people (Jews and Polish intellectuals), but mass sterilization was much more practical for the eventual extermination of tens of millions to hundreds of millions of people (Slavs as a whole). Just as a small number of sterilized Jews were kept alive for forced labor, so also a remnant of the Slavic peoples would be kept alive as slaves of the German Reich. It is high time that educational Holocaust materials include focus on the fact that the Slavs were also victims of genocide. Only the end of the war spared most of the Slavs from forced sterilization, and eventual extermination.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2008
Way back in 1980, I had the opportunity to know a Polish American girl in Toledo,Ohio. She and her family are originally from Krakow, Poland. Her mother showed me the horrible scars on her deformed left leg and some presumably whip marks on her back. She told me she was interned in 1944 at the notorious concentration camp in Ravensbruck,Germany which was a concentration camp for women. The horrendous deformity and scars on her left leg were the result of experiments consisting of injecting germs to develop infection down to the bone and testing it with different drugs.
She was lucky she survived in spite of her weighing only 50 lbs at that time. The book "Doctors from Hell" is just appropriate for its title and content. Reading the book brings back memory of that mother and all the horrendous detail of not only her own experience but also those of her fellow inmates in that concentration camp. The book's authenticity is just
summed up by that mother's narration to me, a human being who was actually in and escaped from that "Hell" on earth. I highly recommend it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Lilian Spitz's book hands down takes the cake in showing the depravity of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany and the depths that even their medical profession descended into. Ms. Spitz gives a bone chilling account of human depravity and the ultimate justice she witnessed as a court reporter for the Nuremberg war crimes trial of Nazi Doctors. With trial transcripts and previously unreleased photographs included in this book that were actually used as evidence in the trial, an account of torture and murder by experiment in the name of science and distorted National Socialistic patriotism is told. Medical Murder: Disturbing Cases of Doctors Who Kill Aside from explaining what it was like to live for eighteen months in bombed-out, dangerous, post-war Nuremburg without hot water and electricity while working on the trial, the reader is taken with Ms. Spitz into the courtroom to hear the demonic testimony and see the reactions of the defendants to the proceedings.

Adolf Hitler's doctors used unwilling Concentration Camp victims and Russian prisoners of war (as well as political prisoners) as unwilling subjects in these experiments and tests. These subjects were usually lied to and promised an easier life, better food, or release...of course, all lies. Spitz starts off reminding readers of the oath all doctors supposedly must take, i.e. the "Hippocratic Oath" which states: "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Holocaust: In the Name of the Füehrer Similarly I will not give a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work. Whatever house I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves."

How much did the Nazi's abide by this? Ms. Spitz points out in her book that after Hitler became Chancellor, compulsory sterilization laws were enacted to sterilize people born with congenital mental defects, schizophrenia, manic-depressive psychosis, hereditary epilepsy and severe alcoholism. Nazi doctors, despite their "Hippocratic Oath" saw to this. Next, came euthanasia of "useless eaters", i.e. welfare recipients, the elderly and infirm, terminal cancer patients, and the like. Karl Brandt: The Nazi Doctor: Medicine and Power in the Third Reich Once again, Nazi doctors saw to this "mercy killing". World War II broke out with Germany's invasion of Poland on Sept. 1st, 1939. Spitz writes: "In 1940, carbon monoxide was the agent of choice, and 70,000 mental patients in German hospitals were reported in meticulously kept records to have been killed, but cause of death was falsified. In 1941, with the invasion of Russia, "Einsatzgruppen" (unique units of soldiers) with the specific mission of murdering Jews, Gypsies, and mental patients, moved with the armies into conquered territories.

In December, 1941, Heinrich Himmler and the doctors that carried out the "euthanasia" combed the concentration camps for those who were unable to work or were otherwise undesirable, resulting in a vast number of deaths by the poison gas "Zyklon B". In 1941, Jews were touted by Adolf Hitler as "beings of another species" thus dehumanizing them and giving the German nation permission to act on their most sordid impulses. Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison What type of doctor would perform gruesome and illegal experiments on innocent human beings? Spitz suggests: "Some German doctors sought the glory of professional distinction among peers through contributing to the welfare of humanity only as an abstract art. To them it was not unlike the amputation of a gangrenous limb or excising a malignant growth. The doctors obliterated all impulses of compassion and ruthlessly pursued those impulses that were necessary to promote the well being of the state, which they identified utterly."

Furthermore, Spitz explained how doctors of the "Third Reich" were manipulated to madness with the following: Martial music, torchlight parades, and the skill of propagandists to manipulate emotions, commingling national pride and hatred for a fabricated internal enemy. All that, plus awareness of the egocentric nature of human beings, dispelled the need for esoteric theories to explain the behavior of a nation not yet recovered from the humiliating and impoverishing consequences of a lost war." The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human Rights in Human Experimentation To give a good idea of what Spitz graphically described in some very difficult and painful reading, here were the charges read against the Nazi doctors at Nuremburg as quoted by Brigadier General Telford Taylor's courtroom reading. After reading this, the reader may want to reconsider if he or she can stomach this book! Telford asserted: "Between September 1939 and April, 1945 all of the defendants herein unlawfully committed war crimes involving medical experiments without the subject's consent, upon civilians and members of the armed forces of nations then at war with the German Reich, murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhumane acts."

Such experiments included, but were not limited to the following: "High-Altitude Experiments". Carried out in a low pressure chamber in which the atmospheric conditions and pressures prevailing at high altitude (up to 68,000 feet) could be duplicated, many victims died as a result of these experiments and others suffered grave injury, torture and ill treatment. Cleansing the Fatherland: Nazi Medicine and Racial Hygiene "Freezing Experiments" Victims were placed in a tank of ice water for up to 3 hours, or kept naked outdoors for hours at below freezing temperatures, during which numerous victims died. "Malaria Experiments" Over 1000 involuntary subjects were infected by mosquitoes, or by injections of extracts of the mucous glands of mosquitoes, who then contracted malaria, many of whom died, while others suffered severe pain and permanent disability. "Mustard Gas Experiments" Wounds were deliberately inflicted on victims and then infected with poisonous gas, some of whom died and others suffered intense pain and injury.

This demented list continued: ""Sulfanilamide Experiments" Wounds were deliberately inflicted on experimental subjects and were infected with streptococcus, gas gangrene, and tetanus, and then wood shavings and ground glass were forces into the wounds, resulting in deaths, serious injury and intense agony. "Bone, Muscle, and Nerve Regeneration and Bone Transplantation Experiments" Sections of bones, muscles, and nerves were removed from the victims, resulting in intense agony, mutilation, permanent disability, and death. Nazi Medicine and the Nuremberg Trials: From Medical War Crimes to Informed Consent "Sea Water Experiments" Subjects were deprived of all food and given only chemically processed sea water, causing great pain, suffering, serious bodily injury and madness. "Epidemic Jaundice Experiments" Subjects were deliberately infected with epidemic jaundice resulting in pain, suffering, and death. "Sterilization Experiments" Thousands of victims were sterilized by x-ray, surgery, and drugs, causing great mental and physical anguish."

Even more outlandish, in the name of Nazi science were the following: "Typhus Experiments" Hundreds of deliberately infected persons experimented upon died-over 90%. "Experiments with Poison" Poisons were secretly administered to experimental subjects in their food, all of whom died or who were deliberately killed to permit autopsies. Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus Poison bullets were shot into other victims, who suffered torture and death. "Incendiary Bomb Experiments" Burns were inflicted on subjects with phosphorous taken from the bombs, causing severe pain, suffering, and serious bodily injury. 112 Jews were selected, killed, and "defleshed" for completing a skeleton collection for the Reich University of Strasbourg in France under Nazi occupation. Tens of thousands of Polish nationals alleged to be infected with incurable tuberculoses were ruthlessly exterminated while others were isolated in death camps with inadequate medical facilities.

Through the exercise of the "euthanasia" program of the German Reich, hundreds of thousands of human beings, including nationals of German-occupied countries, were murdered. This involved the systematic and secret execution of the aged, insane, incurably ill, deformed children, and other persons by gas, lethal injections and diverse other means in nursing homes, hospitals, and asylums. These people were termed "useless eaters" and a burden to the German war machine. Relatives of these victims were informed that they died from natural causes, such as heart failure. German doctors involved in the "euthanasia" program were also sent to Eastern occupied countries to assist in mass extermination of Jews". Lillian Spitz goes into great detail of each experiment, the doctor(s) involved, their photos, their illogical demented justification of the necessity of these demonic experiments, their defense at Nuremburg, and the legal consequences (4 doctors and 3 assistants were sentenced to death and hung). Death of Medicine in Nazi Germany : Dermatology and Dermatopathogy Under the Swastika In reading this book, I had a great deal of trouble remaining dispassionate emotionally and to keep my composure I made sure I read this nowhere close to bedtime. I must warn the reader there are some very ugly and obscene pictures of bizarre, non medical experiments, such as the "pool of detached legs."

There is the deposition of former "Waffen SS" member Kurt Gersten who graphically described the entire killing process of Jewish men, women and children walking into the gas chamber, the looks on their faces, the screams of the dying coming out of the gas chamber, and the description of the bodies after the gassing that has me shaking even now as I type these words. Not for the faint hearted! This was the toughest reading I have ever come across in my life. There is also a part where many years later Ms. Spitz is confronted with a "Holocaust Denier" who claimed that the aforementioned events never occurred. Clauberg Conspiracies: Nazi Medicine and the Pill Ms. Spitz's response to this individual is inspiring, heart warming and very redemptive. This book ends with Ms. Spitz warning society with a prophetic quote from George Santana, which states: "Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. The past is prologue to the future." Among all the thousands of history books I have read in my life, this is one of the most important, vital stories I have ever come across, reminding mankind that whenever a doctor uses their medical services or professional skills against the patient's interests or deviates away from a position of individual patient advocacy in therapy or research, he or she starts down a slippery slope paralleling the Nazi doctors discussed in this horrifying story. Please read this book!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2008
I have seen some footage on tv about the horrible things that have happened in WWII, but this book really tells alot due to a strong woman who went over to Germany for the trials of the "horrific" experiments that the drs who were still alive and on trial after the war was over.

This book is a must to read for those interested in Nazi and or WWII history.

~k
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2010
This is an excellent well written book that is based on the facts of the dr's war criminal trials! I found it highly educating and recommend this book to everyone as a historical reference or as just a guide to understanding things and events that took place in the death camps. EXCELLENT!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2013
I wasn't sure how I would like this book, but once I started, I couldn't stop. I don't enjoy reading about or seeing the horrific things that can be inflicted on others, but like many people, there is a morbid curiosity that most people hate to admit to.

It still seems almost unbelieveable that there is such absolute evil in the world that such disturbing atrosities can be inflicted on other human beings as though they are not living things at all- but test subjects and thus not given any consideration whatsoever. And while a few of the experiments did yield some actual scientific results, the fact that no human used was actually treated like a human is apalling.

The aspect of the book was very well depicted from the point of view of a court reporter during the Nuremberg trials. How she was able to perform her job without being physically ill on a daily basis must have been a feat of sheer willpower.

If you have any interest in the Holocaust whatsoever, this book is a must-have for your library.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2010
This book is a must read for anyone that is human. This is the most disgusting book of all time. We need to never forget the things that were done to these people.
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