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Horst Schumann

At almost the same time as Clauberg, SS-Sturmbannführer Horst Schumann, a Luftwaffe lieutenant and a physician, began his own sterilization experiments at Auschwitz. He was the former head of the institution for the “incurably ill” at Grafeneck hospital in Wurtemberg and at Sonnenstein, after which he became a member of a special “medical commission” that selected sick and overworked concentration camp prisoners for the gas chambers.

Schumann moved into barracks no. 30 in the Birkenau women’s camp (sector BIa), where an “x-ray sterilization” station had been equipped with two Siemens x-ray machines, connected by cables to a lead-shielded control cabin where Schumann could run the machines.

Jewish men and women prisoners in groups of several dozen at a time were regularly brought there and subjected to sterilization experiments consisting of the exposure of the women’s ovaries and the men’s testicles to x-rays. The x-rays left them with severe radiation burns on the abdomen, groin, and buttocks, and suppurating lesions that resisted healing.

Complications led to numerous deaths. Some of the experimental subjects were sent to the gas chambers during selection in the camp. After the passage of several weeks, some of Schumann’s male and female experimental subjects had their testicles or ovaries removed surgically (unilaterally or bilaterally) for laboratory examination and in order to obtain histological samples.

Only a small portion of the victims of Clauberg and Schumann’s experiments, fully aware of how they had been permanently harmed, survived Auschwitz.