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Doctors in the mental institutions being reassigned, Muller-Hill and Watson
Site: DNA Interactive (www.dnai.org)

Interviewee: Benno Muller-Hill, James Watson

DNAi Location:
Chronicle>in the third reich>applying the solution

Moving on to Poland Doctors and helpers who ran the gas chambers at mental institutions were reassigned to extermination camps in Poland.

Applying the "final solution" The gassing of mental patients ceased in August 1941, after Bishop Count von Galen preached against euthanasia in Münster. Many doctors and other personnel who had gained expertise in running gas chambers at mental institutions were then transferred to Poland, where the first gas chamber was built at the Auschwitz extermination camp in January 1942. Carbon monoxide gas was replaced with hydrogen cyanide (Zyclon B).

In November 1942, Otmar von Verschuer succeeded Eugen Fischer as Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Genetics, and Eugenics. von Verschuer had been the Director of the Institute of Hereditary Biology and Race Biology at the University of Frankfurt, where he had become famous for his studies of genetic vs. environmental influences in twins. His assistant at the University of Frankfurt was Josef Mengele.

When, in 1943, Mengele was posted as the senior physician at Auschwitz, von Verschuer obtained funding from the Reich Research Council to support twin research there. One project attempted to identify "specific proteins" involved in a genetically determined response to infection. For this experiment, Jewish and Gypsy twins were injected with identical amounts of typhoid bacteria, then blood samples were taken at regular intervals, and sent to Berlin for analysis. Twins who survived this and other experiments were often killed by direct injection of chloroform or other agents in the heart. Of the more than 3,000 twins conscripted into twin studies at Auschwitz, only 200 survived the war.

Benno Müller-Hill and James Watson discuss how the euthanasia techniques used at mental hospitals were transferred to the extermination camps in Poland.

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