Another distinctive feature of the Holocaust was the extensive use of human subjects in medical experiments. German physicians carried out such experiments at Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald, Ravensbrück, Sachsenhausen and Natzweiler concentration camps.
The most notorious of these physicians was Dr. Josef Mengele, who worked in Auschwitz. His experiments included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes and various amputations and other brutal surgeries.
The full extent of his work will never be known because the truckload of records he sent to Dr. Otmar von Verschuer at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute were destroyed by von Verschuer. Subjects who survived Mengele’s experiments were almost always killed and dissected shortly afterwards.
He seemed particularly keen on working with Romani children. He would bring them sweets and toys, and personally take them to the gas chamber. They would call him “Onkel Mengele”. Vera Alexander was a Jewish inmate at Auschwitz who looked after 50 sets of Romani twins:
“ I remember one set of twins in particular: Guido and Ina, aged about four. One day, Mengele took them away. When they returned, they were in a terrible state: they had been sewn together, back to back, like Siamese twins. Their wounds were infected and oozing pus. They screamed day and night. Then their parents – I remember the mother’s name was Stella – managed to get some morphine and they killed the children in order to end their suffering.