holocaust survivor 244.8.
(photo credit: AP [file])
In the years following the Holocaust, the German government gave minimal or zero compensation to Jewish victims of Nazi medical experimentation based on the criterion of whether it affected their ability to work.
This shortchanged many Holocaust survivors who suffered psychological trauma, whose resulting health problems were not permanent or who were able to work in the 1950s, Prof. Paul Weindling, the Wellcome Trust Research Professor in the History of Medicine at Oxford Brookes University, said on Tuesday.
He spoke during a "Pain and Knowledge Workshop" at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Mount Scopus campus.
Weindling told the participants that on paper, there were many statements and UN resolutions calling for fair compensation for survivors of human medical experimentation.
Then-West German chancellor Konrad Adenauer stated in 1951 that it was the moral duty of the Federal Republic to provide compensation and that the victims of such abuse "should not be denied assistance if their health had not been harmed permanently."
However, said the British historian, only documented experiment victims were given compensation. The Germans, he continued, did not compensate (or only minimally compensated) victims from whom blood was taken by force for transfusions into Germans or for those Jews who got typhus.
Only those whose earning capacity was harmed in the early years after the Holocaust received money, he said. "I found data on 2,000 victims of typhus or malaria experiments; some were paralyzed by infections. In 1954, German doctors maintained that a recurrence can occur only within nine years, so by then, they did not get compensation," he said.
Weindling also criticized the Germans of that era for not compensating medical experimentation victims who suffered much pain, needed constant medical attention as a result of what they underwent or could not remember all the details of their torture.
Freezing experiments at the Dachau concentration camp, for example, caused many of those Jews who survived to forget what had happened to them, even though their bodies suffered terribly. "The Nazis wanted to examine them near the point of death," he said.
The Jewish survivors of German medical experimentation "were an under-recognized and under-compensated group. We have collected 4,000 names over a period 15 months, but many more are unknown," the historian said.