MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

News

Astonishing collection of surgical tools from Auschwitz was donated to the Museum

26-08-2010

A unique collection of over 150 medical implements was donated to the Auschwitz-Birkenau. The tools were found after the liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp, within the area that was closed and inaccessible from outside, the camp interest zone (so-called “Interessengebiet”), close to the train station in Oświęcim. They were in private hands for over 60 years and through a local collector and enthusiast of history they were just donated to the Museum.

"This is a great event, quite unusual. I never thought that after so many years it would be possible to identify and acquire such a rich collection. Moreover, there are very few items related to the SS doctors’ pseudoscientific experiments. Evidence of their crimes were either destroyed or consistently sent to the depths of the Reich" director of the Museum Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński emphasized.

"The medical instruments found consist mainly of gynecological and surgical instruments. Given that they were found near the camp and near the train station, within the so-called Interessengebiet, where there was no other medical facility, there is a very high probability that these are actually medical tools from the camp" said Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz, manager of the Museum Research Department

"Presumably, they belonged to the SS doctors, who, because of the experiments they conducted could be in possession of such medical instruments. It is possible that they were owned by SS Brigadeführer, prof. Dr. Carl Clauberg, who carried out experiments on the sterilization of women in block 10 in Auschwitz. However, three other Nazi doctors cannot be ruled out: Eduard Wirths, Horst Schumann, or Bruno Weber, who also used female camp prisoners in their experiments. Because of the large number of gynecological instruments, most likely these came from Clauberg’s experimental station" added Setkiewicz.

"For some time we have been considering, in the context of the new exhibition, to open parts of building 10 to visitors. However, outside a gynecological chair, hospital furniture, and some few ampoules we had virtually no other exponents that could be linked to the dramatic fate of the victims subjected to experiments. This collection completely changes everything and the enormity of the German doctors’ crimes will be very clearly presented. This is by far the largest and most important acquisition of camp items in recent years" Director Cywiński remarked.

The tools as well as the box used for their sterilization will soon be put through the process to preserve them.

See the video: Medical Instruments from Auschwitz

Carl Clauberg

Prof. Dr. Carl Clauberg (a pre-war authority in the treatment of female infertility and during the war the head of the Department of women’s diseases in the hospital in Königshütte) performed experiments in Auschwitz to find the most appropriate method of sterilization an unlimited number of people in the shortest possible time as well as using the easiest method possible.

Camp Commandant Rudolf Höss made block number 10 in Auschwitz available for Clauberg. Located on the second floor of this block were two halls, where there were about 150 to about 400 Jewish women from different countries that were occupied by Nazi Germany.

The method of non-surgical mass sterilization developed by Clauberg was done under the guise of a gynecological examination and consisted of the introduction a chemical into the female’s reproductive organs. This caused acute inflammation after a few weeks resulted in the overgrowing of the fallopian tubes and hence their obstruction. The effect of the experiments was always checked using an X-ray.

The procedures described were carried out in a brutal fashion and often caused complications in the form of peritonitis and hemorrhage, which lead to high fever and general sepsis. In many cases they were the cause of the prisoner’s death. Some women were killed in order to carry out autopsies.

Doctors in Auschwitz

SS camp doctors were officially supposed to provide medical care to prisoners of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz, they in fact did not comply and offer the basic medical care to the prisoners but only created the semblance of proper treatment. They were involved mainly in the mass murder perpetrated in the camp, carrying out selections on transports of Jews deported to Auschwitz for extermination as well as among the sick prisoners in the camp infirmary, supervised the process of killing Jews in gas chambers, and were present at the executions. On behalf of German pharmaceutical companies, or due to personal interests, they experimented on prisoners, signed thousands of prisoner death certificates that gave fictitious causes of death.

Prisoners remember the following doctors, among others, in a particularly negative way: Carl Clauberg, Horst Schumann, Josef Mengele, Johann Paul Kremer, Eduard Wirths, Emil Kaschub, August Hirt, Friedrich Entress, Helmuth Vetter.

Experiments

Experiments included, among others: sterilization, pharmacological experiments that included testing the prisoners tolerance to the medicine or drug as well as their effectiveness, tests on the changes to the human body due to starvation, experiments on twins and people born with disabilities.

The experiments carried out on prisoners, who were sentenced to live in the most extreme of conditions, were for many a simultaneous death sentence. SS doctors were indifferent to the fate of prisoners used in experiments. Often, to hide the criminal activity, they had their victims killed with a lethal injection of phenol to the heart or in the gas chambers.

Find out more: Medicine in Auschwitz

A unique collection of over 150 medical implements was donated to the Auschwitz-Birkenau. Photo: Paweł Sawicki
A unique collection...
Unique collection of over 150 medical implements was donated to the Auschwitz-Birkenau. Photo: Paweł Sawicki
Unique collection...
A unique collection of over 150 medical implements was donated to the Auschwitz-Birkenau. Photo: Paweł Sawicki
A unique collection...