Karl Gebhardt

Karl Franz Gebhardt ( Hagg , 23 of November of 1897 – Landsberg am Lech , 2 of June of 1948 ) was a doctor of medicine , surgeon consultant of the SS with the rank of Brigadeführer and Lieutenant General of the Waffen SS , one of the doctors Personalities of the SS of Himmler and promoter of the human terminal experiments with prisoners in the concentration camps of Ravensbrück and Auschwitz .

Nazi race

His father was a doctor of the family Himmler and, in this way, Karl met the young Heinrich Himmler , of whom he became friend.

In 1919, after World War I , he joined the paramilitary group Freikorps Oberland where he joined Heinrich Himmler and Sepp Dietrich . Participated in the Putsch of Munich in 1923, in support of Hitler .

In 1924, he worked as an unpaid intern at the Surgical Clinic of the University of Munich under the orders of Ernst Ferdinand Sauerbruch . In 1932 he obtained medical certificates in Munich and specialized in orthopedic medicine . He worked as a professor at the University of Berlin in his specialty.

In 1933, he became member of the Nazi Party with the number of partner 1723317, when Himmler was Gruppenführer of the SA . In 1935, he joined the SS and served as medical superintendent at the SS sanatorium of Hohenlychen in Uckermark . That sanatorium would be transformed by Gebhardt into a medical research center. That year she received Irma Grese as an assistant , since she never graduated as a nurse, which would later be assigned to Auschwitz and known as the Angel of Death.

During the Olympic Games of Berlin 1936 , exerted like Head of the Department of Medicine of the Reich Academy like chief physician of Physical Education of the German sportsmen. In 1938, Gebhardt is appointed personal physician of Himmler, is named Brigadeführer of the SS and also exerts like president of the German Red Cross .

Medical experimentation

In 1939, when the concentration camps were set up in Ravensbrük and Auschwitz, Gebhardt was assigned by Himmler as SS chief physician of the 24 physicians in charge of medical experiments that were authorized to enter these death camps.

Gebhardt, along with his assistants, physicians Fritz Fischer and Ludwig Stumpfegger , began conducting experiments of questionable scientific validity with young, healthy prisoners. Thus, amputated members of prisoners and then try prosthetic orthopedic. As medical chief of the SS, Gebhardt directed doctors such as Sigmund Rascher , Ding Schuler , Fritz Klein , Claus Schilling , among others. At Auschwitz , he met Joseph Mengele who underwent genetic studies with twins and gypsies under the direction of the Institute for Racial Hygiene supervised by Eduard Wirths .

Karl Gebhardt worked mainly in Ravensbrück, where he made sinister medical experiments with young prisoners. Thus, he performed amputations, defenestrations , amputee limb exchange, re-grafting of arms or legs between prisoners, dissections of living persons and without anesthesia and experiments with antibiotics. In order to do so, he simulated war wounds with the prisoners by inserting pieces of wood chips, metal splinters, dirt, glass or foreign bodies infected with streptococcus varieties , Clostridium perfringens to provoke gas gangrene , Clostridium tetani to cause tetanus , The end after testing antibiotics like sulfamide (from allied captured soldiers). Experiments were followed with observation of control subjects (no treatment) to evaluate the effects of such experiments. The prisoners who improved were subsequently gassed. 1 2

In May 1942 Himmler sent Gebhardt to Prague to try to save the life of the Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich , but in spite of the opinion of Theodor Morell, personal physician of Hitler in the application of sulfamides as treatment of the infection, Gebjardt did not accept it and Although his efforts were futile, The Butcher of Prague would die on June 4, 1942.

In 1943, Karl Gebhardt was assigned to the police as a medical consultant, and at a medical conference of the SS in which the results of these disastrous investigations were presented, he announced that he assumed all the human, surgical and political responsibility for experiments in the fields Of concentration with the Jewish prisoners. 3

In 1944, Gebhardt received in the sanatorium of Hohenlychen to the minister of armament and production Albert Speer , that was affected of an illness. Gebhardt was about to assassinate Speer, for he had received orders from Himmler for this purpose. At the end of April 1945, Gebhardt was present in the bunker of Hitler and maintained an interview with Joseph Goebbels before fleeing to meet with Himmler.

Escape, arrest and death

In May 1945, Gebhardt was part of the small entourage that accompanied Himmler to Flensburg to meet with Admiral Karl Dönitz . Facing the failure of the meeting, the delegation decided to return to Munich, being arrested by English commandos in the town of Bremervörde and brought to trial.

Karl Gebhardt was among the defendants in the so – called doctors’ trial , where the 20 of August of 1947 he was tried and sentenced to death on charges of crimes against humanity , promoter of the war of aggression and genocide. He was hanged in the prison of Landsberg , 2 of June of 1948 along with other officials of the Nazi regime .


  1. Back to top↑ Mengele-the last Nazi, Harald Astor
  2. Back to top↑ Karl Gebhardt-SS
  3. Back to top↑ Women in Resistance to the Holocaust-Vera Laska, ISBN 0-313-23457-4 , p. 225