Researcher to use death camp data

Data with tragic history put to good use

Minneapolis -- A scientist is planning to use Nazi studies of concentration camp prisoners deliberately frozen to death to further his research about hypothermia.

Dr. Robert Pozos, director of the hypothermia research laboratory at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, says he plans to analyze and republish "The Treatment of Shock from Prolonged Exposure to Cold," a study by doctors at Dachau. It includes observation and physiological measurement of people placed in vats of freezing liquid, sometimes to the point of death, according to those familiar with the study.

Because mammals differ widely in their physiological response to cold, hypothermia research is uniquely dependent on human test subjects, says Pozos, a specialist in the field for 12 years.

Several medical ethicists contend study of the Nazi research could save lives and, if published with a condemnation of the methods, call attention to the plight of the Jews, Poles and Gypsies killed in the experiments.

Because the Egyptians used slave labor, "does that mean we should never gaze at the pyramids?" asked Dr. Thomas Murray, director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

But some scientists and Jewish leaders have sharply criticized his intention to use data obtained during the Holocaust.

"We should under no circumstances use the information. It was gained in an immoral way," said Dr. Daniel Callahan, director of the Hastings Center, a medical ethics think tank in Briarcliff Manor, NY.

"I think it goes to legitimizing the evil done. I think the findings are tainted by the horror and misery," said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

What do you think?

Should data collected by the Nazis in this way be used in current research?

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Source: based on a news article reported by the Associated Press.

This page maintained by:
Randall Pruim
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Calvin College

Last Modified: Thursday, 11-Jan-2001 16:02:18 EST