Nazi Germany Experiments (WWII)


Summary of the study

Intended outcome

Population selected to participate

Risks associated with participation

Making the participants aware of the risks

Protection of the rights and welfare of participants

Ethical issues relating to the conduct of the research

The role of the IRB in protecting research participants

Content Layout: Nazi Germany Experiments (WWII)

The Nazi Germany experiments were a series of medically motivated
tests on humans that targeted various classes of people in Europe.

The Genesis of the medical experiments begun during the Second
World War. While the initial idea was grand, the manner in which the
methods of carrying out the experiments, as well as the outcome of
the same were far from humane.

The experiments focused primarily in concentration camps within
Germany, where incapacitated Germans, Jews, and other ethnic
groups were gathered. The experiments were of varying nature and
led to devastating effects to the participants such as insanity,
disability, and death of hundreds of the innocent participants.

Summary of the Study

To research on medical ways of enabling the survival of the German
military engaged in World War II.

Testing of new drugs, as well as newer methods of treatment of
injuries for the quick recovery of soldiers in the war.

To understand and develop the capacity to manipulate genetics so as
to ensure the survival of the German population after the Second
World War (USHMM, n.d.) .

The intended outcome

Jews – Considered the main target of the Nazi German experiment.

Incapacitated Germans – They were viewed as being lower human
beings owing to their various disabilities.

Gypsies – they were considered evil in Germany and were to be killed
through the experiments.

Poles – They were considered inferior and were imprisoned for forced

Soviets – They were taken prisoners during the war and killed through
mistreatment and execution in various concentration camps.

Population selected to participate

Unknown researchers and processes – The participants of the study
were not aware of the competence nor the processes to be used
within the study, which placed their lives at risk (Brannigan, Nicholson,
& Cherry, 2015).

Unknown and absent standards – The participants were not made
aware of any standards for the study, or the protection of the
participants, hence leaving their security, health, and wellbeing at the
mercy of the researchers (Angell, 2015).

Risks associated with participation in the study

Absence of consent – Participating in a study under coercion increases
the risk to life and health of the participant is was the case of the Nazi
German experiments (Escobedo, Guerrero, Lujan, Ramirez, & Serrano,

Study in a foreign land – Most of the participants were held captive or
in forced labor in Germany. The participation in such a study in these
conditions is a risk to their life and well being.

Risks associated with participation in the study

The absence of inclusive rules of engagement for medical studies
during the Nazi German experiment period created a loophole for
forceful engagement of detainees, prisoners, and people considered of
low class in the society (Escobedo, Guerrero, Lujan, Ramirez, &
Serrano, 2007).

The participants of the study were not made aware of the imminent
risks of the study, since the Nazis did not consider it important to
inform people they considered beneath them.

The atrocities and resulting genocide resulted in the formation of the
Nuremberg Code that stipulated the need for the participants of such
studies to be made aware of the risks involved.

Making the participants aware of the risks

At the time of World War II, there were no institutions or codes of
conduct that the medical researchers were obliged to follow in such

It was only until the end of the Second World War that the Nuremberg
Code was created, beginning the formation of a series of rules and
institutions that ensured the protection of the rights and welfare of
participants of such medical experiments (Moreno, Schmidt, & Joffe,

Protection of rights and welfare of participants

Every medical practitioner is tasked with the key responsibility of
protecting life, and maintaining human dignity. The outcome of the
Nazi German experiments proved otherwise for the practitioners as
they knowingly endangered lives and executed innocent people
(Moreno, Schmidt, & Joffe, 2017).

There is no evidence of coercion to the researchers to perform any of
the atrocities they did. It was, therefore, an unethical practice for
medical practitioners to engage in practices that caused death,
traumatization, disfigurement, insanity, and disability. All this was
done willingly (Brannigan, Nicholson, & Cherry, 2015 p. 556).

Ethical issues relating to the conduct of the research

Given the expected results of the initial study, the researchers
engaged in the Nazi German experiments were expected to draw
random samples from varying ethnic groups to facilitate a successful
study toward the expected results.

However, the researchers simply used people of a given race who
were usually picked by government agents and military personnel.

This was unethical not only because of unfair treatment, but also due
to contravention of rules of sampling in conducting such studies.

Ethical issues relating to the conduct of the research

At the time of the Nazi German experiments, IRBs did not exist. As
such, the task of protecting research participants was mainly a
government affair in cooperation with the physicians and researchers
on the ground.

The harm and suffering caused by the Nazi German experiments was,
however, instrumental in the formation of IRBs, which are tasked with
the protection of research participants.

Role of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) in
protecting the research participants

Angell, M. (2015, November 19). Medical Research: The Dangers to the Human
Subjects. The New York Review of Books.

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