There is extensive literature chronicling the coerced medical experiments conducted by Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. But there are more stories of medical procedures at Nazi death camps that have yet to be documented. In some cases, this history has been hiding in plain sight.
For example, the history of the forced administration of substances to women – which led to amenorrhea and, for some, infertility – remains overlooked. There are a variety of reasons why this has been the case, perhaps chiefly because it was part of standard “processing” of new female arrivals at Auschwitz. Routine aspects of life in Auschwitz related to sexuality and fertility have received limited investigation, at least in part because of the sensitive and taboo subject matter. As such, survivors may be reluctant to raise these issues and interviewers may not have thought – or had the proper training – to ask the kinds of questions that would elicit this material.
Moreover, routine medical interventions conducted in 1943 and 1944 – as opposed to Mengele’s well-delineated and demarcated experiments – may not have led survivors or their physicians to question, and eventually identify, the link between medical procedures occurring at Auschwitz and subsequent amenorrhea, multiple miscarriages and possible infertility. [Read more…]