The Sea Water Medical Experiments
by Vincent Reynouard
Translated by C. Porter
(sound track of video)
(posted here by permision)


Today, I shall address myself to all those young French men or women who have read, or been compelled to read, some of the standard history books, magazines, textbooks and films regularly published on the Second World War, the German concentration camps and the “Holocaust” of the Jews. It is my belief that  nearly all such books are chock full of politically motivated exaggerations and lies. All this literature consists largely of propaganda -- propaganda which is ultimately untrue, although it contains occasional grains of truth. They are intended to manipulate your mind by twisting the manner in which you think.
You might find it hard to believe me. What could be more natural? But I’m not asking you to take my word for it. I have no right to ask you just to take my word for it. I’ll show you what I mean; I won’t say anything which has not been proven by the documents which I am about to show you.

An Historian Without Any Critical Instinct

My first example is rather anecdotal, but it reveals a flagrant lack of critical instinct on the part of the author. Emmanuel Thiébot is an historian. He works at the Caen Memorial, which is one of the biggest museums in France consecrated to the Second World War and its aftermath. He is the also the author of numerous books and articlee, one of which is entitled: La Seconde Guerre mondiale [The Second World War] (published by the Mémorial de Caen, 2003).

Page 50 shows this photo, with the following caption: “Photograph found on the body of a Japanese soldier showing an Allied aviator about to be decapitated by sabre, published in Voir magazine in June 1945 “.

The claim that the photograph was “found on the body of an enemy” should be treated with caution, since it is a very common method used by propagandists to disseminate fake photographs. By claiming that their photos were “found” on a “dead soldier”, they no longer need to prove where it came from. And in fact, a careful study of the so-called “executioner” should suffice to show that the whole photograph is a crude photomontage.

Compare the photo with one of a real person brandishing a sabre:

The Japanese executioner‘s arms are much too small in comparison with his head;

2°) While the shoulder span of the man in black is in conformity with that of a human skeleton, that of the Japanese executioner is much too small. This is a result of the fact that the two arms added to the photograph have been taken from another photograph taken from much further away, probably because the faker had no other photographs available to him.

As for the shirt worn by the Japanese “executioner”,  the absence of detail and shading (compare the head and boots) reveals that the “photo” is in fact a drawing.

Despite the evidence, Emmanuel Thiébot never hesitated to dish up this fake just as if it were an authentic document.  

For an historian employed – mirabile dictu – by one of the largest museums in France consecrated to the Second World War, this lack of critical instinct is somewhat troubling

Having said that, I will get to the heart of the matter: the German concentration camps and the so-called “Holocaust” of the Jews. According to the official hypothesis, the Germans divided the deportees into two categories:

1°) Those whom the Germans intended to kill gradually, by making them work to the max until they died. This was “extermination through work”.
2°) Those whom the Germans intended to kill immediately, in the context of a deliberately planned mass killing programme (children, the elderly, pregnant Jewesses, gypsies, etc.). 

Tendentious captions

Let’s start by examining the first group of prisoners, the “extermination through work” victims.

The authors of these multitudinous tomes often seem to believe that their readers are stupid – for example, the photographs are often accompanied by captions consisting of unproven assertions, or assertions in plain contradiction with the subject matter of the photograph. The following are three examples (I’ll show you some more in a moment).

Healthy inmates celebrate the liberation of Dachau

In his book entitled: 1945, de la guerre à la paix en douze événements (éd. Casterman-Mémorial, 1999), u CNRS research director Claude Quétel…
published this very well known photograph taken at the liberation of Dachau. It shows the deportees, most of them young, celebrating the arrival of their liberators in a delirium of joy. All of them are in good health, none of them are emaciated and they are all well dressed (albeit only in camp uniforms). Despite these obvious facts, the caption claims: “The deportees, whose camp has just been liberated, hardly possess the strength to express their joy. Many of these rare survivors, having barely escaped a slow death, would not even survive their own liberation […]”. They really think their readers are fools!

You might say that, while some of the deportees were in good health, many others -- who were far more numerous -- were already dead or dying. I will answer that objection in a moment. For now, I merely wish to concern myself with the unjustified claims made in the captions to these photographs -- that is, captions which in no way correspond to what the photographs obviously show, or which can be shown to be erroneous.  

The “Extermination through Work” Allegation

Now let’s examine a book authored by Angela Gluck Wood and published in 2007 by the very official  Foundation for a Visual History of the Survivors of the Shoah, an establishment created in 1994 by Steven Spielberg which has now, since 2006, become an Institute of the University of Los Angeles. The book is entitled: Shoah, published in French by Milan Jeuness in 2008. Page 83 shows a photo of deportees in a workshop. The caption says: “Forced labour. The prisoners worked long hours at least six days a week, often under difficult, unhealthy and dangerous conditions: building sites, quarries, workshops and factories producing articles for the German government”. //The first part of the caption is correct:

According to a circular letter dated 22 January 1943, deportees assigned to workshops had to work eleven hours a day, Monday to Saturday. Those who worked outside worked shorter hours in winter, because of the shorter days. In cases of extreme urgency, the deportees could be made to work Sunday morning, but Sunday afternoon was always free.

But the second part of the caption is entirely without justification. The photo shows a well-lit, ventilated workshop (the upper windows are open), while the deportees are in good health. While one of them is working in the foreground, three others seem to be having a conversation, and another one, in the background, is calmly taking to a civilian (possibly the shop foreman). The reality is therefore very far removed from the author’s allegations.
Incidentally, I could also produce large numbers of deportees in good health, working in surroundings which are in no way insalubrious: this photo shows a BMW factory at the Allach camp…

This one shows a Siemens factory at Auschwitz…

This is an underground V2 factory at Dora…

This is the quarry at Mauthausen…

and this photo was taken at Ravensbrück camp.

The Sea Water Medical Experiments

Again, we are still on page 83, a very well known photograph shows a visibly nervous deportee who is about to have a blood sample taken (see the tourniquet on the forearm and the three test tubes in the operator’s hand). The caption says: “In some camps, the inmates were used as guinea pigs […]. The inmates, like this gypsy, who was forced to drink sea water to see whether it was potable, suffered martyrdom”.

Comment number one: In 1942, in Germany, just like everywhere else, everyone knew that sea water is not potable except in very small doses. This impudent lie is intended to make us believe that, in the camps, the Germans carried out pseudo-scientific experiments, solely to satisfy their sadism. Now, in the present case, this allegation in no way represented the truth.  

A Wartime Necessity

The longer the war lasted, the more people were lost at sea (either the crews of sunken ships or downed aviators). One of the most agonizing problems for them, while waiting to be rescued, was obtaining potable water. This is why teams of scientists were attempting to find a solution to this problem, particularly in the belligerent countries. In the USA, experiments were conducted on 17 volunteers in a US Navy hospital [See The Lancet, no. 6267, 9 October 1943, p. 441:

“Effects Following the Ingestion of Small Quantities of Sea Water. An Experimental Study”.] One of the research methods consisted of attempting to find a simple process for rendering sea water potable.

German scientists in fact perfected two such methods in 1943:

- the Wofatit method, discovered by a Dr Schaefer, previously employed in collaboration with IG Farben. This method consisted of the desalinisation of sea water using nitrate of silver (AgNO3).

- the Berkatit method, discovered by an  engineer named Berka. This consisted, not of desalinising the water, but, rather, of adding various sugars and vitamins so as to render the taste more agreeable, and to facilitate excretion of the ingested salt.

Theoretically, the Wofatit method was ideal, since the processed sea water was actually made potable. But with the blockade, and the resulting shortages and restrictions, it involved one extremely serious disadvantage: Germany had practically no silver.

German technicians estimated that the successful implementation of this method would require 2.5 to 3 tons of silver every month. What is more, the water had to be aspirated through a special filter to avoid the absorption of noxious chemical residues. “These facts”, they concluded, “make implementation of this process impossible in practice”.

The Berkatit method, by contrast, did not make the sea water potable. It merely facilitated its absorption (better taste) and permitted longer-term consumption (accelerated excretion of the salt) while awaiting rescue.  Its great advantage: the sugars and vitamins which it required were easily available, permitting immediate, unrestricted production.

The Decision to Conduct Experiments

On 19 May 1944, a preliminary meeting was held at the Luftwaffe headquarters to compare the problems and advantages raised by the two methods.
It was announced that, according to the head of the Luftwaffe medical service, Dr. Schaefer, the initial symptoms would occur before the sixth day, and that death would occur before the twelfth day.

Nevertheless, an internal complaints specialist, Dr. Eppinger, along with an eminent pharmacologist, Dr. Heubner, stated that the Berkatit method could nonetheless be applied to human beings, at least for a certain period of time. This is why the decision was made to conduct experiments.

On 20 May 1944, a second meeting was held to draw up an experimental protocol intended to verify the effectiveness (and limits) of the Berkatit method. Since the water requirements of the human body are quite specific, the tests, to be conclusive, could only be conducted on human beings. It was decided that the test subjects should be divided into four groups, according to the quantity of water they were to receive: the first group would receive water processed with the Berkatit method,  the second would receive potable water, the third would receive no water at all, and the fourth would receive the amount of water contained in the survival rations.
For food, all subjects would receive survival rations. The experiment would last no longer than six days.

Another series of experiments was proposed, lasting twelve days in this case. The subjects would be given both sea water, i.e., Berkatit water, and survival rations. Since they would be risking their lives, it was decided that the human guinea pigs would be selected and made available to the experimenters [by] the Reichsführer SS (i.e.: Heinrich Himmler).

Initially, consideration was given to testing both wounded aviators having completed their convalescence, and aviator cadets. But the proposal was rejected on the grounds that both groups were immediately required at the front.

Experimenting on young Germans of the same age as the pilots was also impossible, since, at the timethey were all needed, either in the army, or in the civilian service.  
The proposal was then made to test German soldiers sentenced to punishment by German military courts. But once again, the authorities refused.  
Finally, in accordance with SS Gruppenführer Nebe, Heinrich Himmler decided that the experiments would be conducted at Dachau (where the Luftwaffe had long since installed laboratories), on gypsies who were in good health, but who had been declared unfit to work,  as well as on three other prisoners.

Dr. Wilhelm Beiglböck

Dr. Wilhelm Beiglböck was ordered to conduct the tests on forty gypsies.

The protocol adopted was the following: the test subjects were divided into four groups. Initially, one group was given all the normal rations received by wartime aviators (sardines, cheese, butter, milk, etc., and, of course, potable water) for several days. Then, like aviators lost at sea, they all received survival rations, except for one group, which received nothing at all. As for water, they received that which had been planned, according to the group to which they belonged. Their urine was kept for examination, while blood samples were taken for analysis every day. For the first few days, everything went well. But later, the test subjects in the group who were supposed to have been “lost at sea” began to suffer from thirst -- the terrible thirst that always accompanies a lack of potable water.  

Starting at this time, some of the gypsies cheated, and succeeded in procuring potable water to drink by means of various subterfuges; test subjects wishing to cheat then drank the water and threw away their urine away, to conceal the fraud. But the experiments were continued to the end, regardless. After the war, Dr. Beiglböck was arrested.

He appeared at Nuremberg beside Karl Brandt and other defendants in the “Doctors’ Trial”.

The prosecution theory at Nuremberg

The prosecution produced several witnesses, as well as one American medical expert, Dr. Ivy.

Dr. Ivy disputed the scientific value of the experiments and stressed the deterioration in health of the test subjects during the tests.  

One witness, Hollenreiner, described subjects suffering from delirium as a result of hunger and thirst.

According to the witness, Wilhelm Beiglböck was totally indifferent to the sufferings caused by his experiments and threatened to shoot anyone who protested.  

For his part, Vorlicek (a male nurse) testified that at least one of the test subjects had suffered from violent cramps, and that, in the end, they were all very sick, and that three months later, he heard, from someone else, that one of the guinea pigs had died.  

A witness named Tschofenig also mentioned one fatality, saying that he had read the file on the case.  

Based on his allegations, the Prosecution concluded that Dr. W. Beiglböck had participated in experiments: “...over the course of which deaths, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities and other inhuman acts were committed”.

Another side of the story

It should be noted, however, that another witness for the Prosecution, Josef Laubinger, spoke of threats and punishments but only against test subjects who cheated or who rebelled. He described his experiences as follows:

From the human point of view, he [= Wilhelm Beiglböck] never hurt us, but he conducted the experiments under strict discipline, and punished those who refused or who caused any delay.

Incidentally, far from being reduced to silence by the Prosecution, the Defense was able to launch an effective counter-attack. On 3 June 1947, Professor Franz Volhard, a well-known physician, appeared as a witness and testified that the experiments had been performed in a very scientific manner,  that he had no criticisms to make of the test protocol employed and that he saw no other way in which the tests could have been conducted.

In a letter dated 17 January 1947, the Professor stated that the experimental method followed by the defendant did not amount to “any crime against humanity at all”. 

The Defense also produced several sworn statements depicting Dr. Wilhelm Beiglböck in an entirely different light from that painted by the Prosecution.

I would now like to call your attention to the questionnaire of Dr. Karl Theodore Lesse. Interrogated with regards to the experiments involving the use of sea water, he declared that that there had not been any deaths at all (question 3), that the experiments were always stopped upon the appearance of symptoms of intolerance (questions 27, and 40 and that none of the test subjects had suffered irreversible harm to their health (Question 6).

In reply to the question: “What was his attitude [that of Dr. Beiglböck] towards the prisoners in general?”, the answer was, bluntly, “Very humane and good”.
I would also like to mention the testimony of Walther Massion, who assisted Dr Beiglböck in conducting the experiments. In support of the testimony of K. Lesse, he declared that the experiments lasted only 4 to 6 days, that there were no deaths that none of the “human guinea pigs” ever went insane or hysterical, that any test subject who showed signs of an intolerance reaction received medical care and that not one of the test subjects suffered any long-term ill effects. In support of the testimony of Josef Laubinger, Walther Massion stressed that:

Dr. Beiglböck treated his prisoners as humanely as his patients. He was only rude to them when they obtained potable water to drink in violation of his orders. I know absolutely for certain that not one of the ‘guinea pigs’ was ever handed over to the S.S. for punishment for violating the test procedures”.
With laudable honesty, the anti-Nazi François Bayle recalls that, after the war, several former inmates imprisoned at Dachau testified spontaneously in favour of the defendant:

Ernst Mettbach: “Dr. Beiglböck treated us very well”;

Raymond Papei: “In general, I can tell you that Dr. Beiglböck was very concerned with our welfare and was very humane towards all my comrades […]. I know for a fact that none of my comrades was ever struck, and that none of them died. […]. It is true that Dr. Beiglböck was very angry when he discovered that some of us had obtained potable water and drank it, but no one was punished for that or for any other reason, and no one was arrested.  […] I would like to add that Dr. Beiglboeck gave us his address, and told us to come see him after the war. […] even today, I would like to shake his hand and thank him for everything he did for during those difficult times”;

Français Jean Sénès testified as follows: “Personally, I have nothing against Dr. Beiglböck. To my knowledge, he never committed any reprehensible acts against me or my comrades. To me, he was a professor, not a jailer” (Ibid., p. 622).

With regards to the experiments in question, he wrote: “All the gypsies, when they arrived at  the station, were informed of the nature of the experiments; they received rich, abundant food for a few days, and when the experiments started, they were given a medical examination to see if they were capable of getting through the tests; they were all the object of medical follow-up by Dr. Beiglböck throughout the entire period of the tests; I can state that no one died during this whole time, and that, when the experiments were all over, all the test subjects were given abundant food, everyone was in good health and were perfectly fit when they left the station […].

I can assure you that, on the advice of an ophthalmologist who was also a prisoner and examined our eyes, Dr. Beiglböck terminated the experiments ahead of schedule, thus avoiding any suffering and, in particular, any long-term effects or lesions. […] Dr. Beiglböck did not desire these experiments and was not responsible for them. He never acted inhumanely or immorally in this situation [Ibid., p. 623.].”

Obviously, the experiments were carried out strictly, but without cruelty. This should not surprise us: for the Germans, it wasn’t a question of torturing the gypsies, but of obtaining very important findings for the war effort. Of course, the gypsy in the photograph looks very nervous. But why wouldn’t he be while undergoing a blood test involving relatively large quantities of blood (3 test tubes full)? This is hardly proof of “the sufferings of martyrdom”.

I can also produce another photo showing another test subject who is much more relaxed…

A judgement unique in history

Not surprisingly, the Nuremberg judges upheld the contentions of the Prosecution. In their judgement, they wrote:

In our view, the test subjects were treated with brutality. Many of them had to endure great suffering and pain, although the documents do not permit us to prove that any deaths resulted from the experiments among the test subjects. It appears from the documents that these experiments were criminal by their very nature, and that non-Germans were ordered to serve as test subjects without their consent. To the extent that the crimes committed by Beiglböck were not war crimes, they were crimes against humanity.

W. Beiglböeck was sentenced to 15 years in prison (Ibid., p. 300), which was relatively merciful, since, of his 15 co-defendants, 7 were sentenced to death, 5 to life imprisonment, 2 to 20 years and 1 to 10 years. W. Beiglböck’s sentence was later reduced to 10 years…

This was all the more hypocritical since, at the time, the American authorities were also conducting experiments on human guinea pigs without their consent. The article shown here is an extract from the weekly magazine VSD, dated 25 March 1993. Here, we learn that, during the war, young US army recruits were subjected to experiments intended to test the effectiveness of flak jackets and other body armour.

In the weeks that followed, the general public was treated to horrifying revelations relating to the medical experiments conducted on human guinea pigs organised in the 1950s, not only by the USSR, but by the USA as well: radioactive meals served to young mentally handicapped patients, radioactive pills administered to babies, the irradiation of prisoners’ testicles, radioactive clouds released near inhabited areas… All this surpassed anything the Germans ever did, 100 times over, perhaps 1000 times…

We have since learned that, in 1946-1948, that is, at the same time that American tribunals were sentencing German doctors for conducting medical experiments on human guinea pigs, doctors working for the Americans in Guatemala were secretly infecting hundreds of persons with syphilis, just to test the effectiveness of penicillin. 83 of these “human guinea pigs” died as a result…

If you read English, I recommend that you listed to this documentary, which will give you an idea of American practices which would have been considered deserving of the death penalty at Nuremberg ten times over…

This concludes the first stage of our journey to the land of the propaganda lies, crammed down our throats today.

During the second stage of our journey, we will examine the reality behind the fake photographs that we have been shown over and over again since 1945.