The following account is a result of multiple records and paper trails confiscated from Ravensbrück a few years after the end of WWII. I have summarized them to the best of my ability.
In 1942, 72 Jewish prisoners were claimed for extended experiments in sulfonamide. These prisoners were sent to Ravensbrück, a women’s concentration camp located in northern Germany. The prisoners, all women, ranged from age 21 to age 40 and were kept in very poor conditions (although these were significantly better than the conditions of the concentration camps not participating in the testing). All subjects received a unique form of ‘treatment’ and each provided different results from the next.
Those being tested on are reported to have been inflicted with numerous flesh wounds. These wounds were then infected with bacteria and agitated with broken glass or wood shavings. Yet more subjects spoke of having their bones, muscle tissue, and even nerves dissected, grafted, and destroyed. The worst case of experimental torture that occurred at Ravensbrück is the instances in which entire bones were mutilated or moved between subjects’ bodies. Tibias grafted to fibulas, ulnas switched between arms, etc.
After numerous tests, it was determined that sulfonamide was unsafe due to the massive amounts of death it caused among the subjects. The majority of the prisoners still alive were sent back to camps or killed. Only a few researchers remained at Ravensbrück.
One of these researchers was a German scientist working underneath Hitler, a man by the name of Horst Bichler. He specialized in the creation and maintenance of the various experiments, and was very upset when the operations were abruptly called off. Bichler and two other researchers, whose names we have never been able to salvage, requested permission to continue testing, this time with new subjects.
At first their request was denied, but after three months of pushing, they were granted two subjects: twin children, a boy and a girl by the names of Eva and Joby Weis. Bichler protested against the inclusion of children into the experiments, but his pleas for adult subjects fell on deaf ears. Having no other choice, Bichler and the other researchers took in the children and began their experiments.
The idea was to cut open the arms of both children and then infect the wounds with bacteria known as ‘Psychrobacter’. Each child was strapped to a hospital bed and, without anesthetic, were slit open at the crook of their arms. The bacteria were immediately applied and the gashes on both children were bandaged to prevent blood loss. The researchers then placed the children in an isolated chamber where they could move around as they wished, but were forbidden the right to exit.
For the first day, Eva and Joby had drastically different ways of coping. Joby chose to sit on his cot and trace the wall, muttering to himself. The researchers were concerned this may have been a side effect of the infection, but his sister seemed not to find it odd, and it was dismissed as a quirk and nothing more. Eva, on the other hand, amused herself by pacing around the room, occasionally speeding up to a run. It appeared that she was suffering from a nervous breakdown. Several times she was administered a sedative in order to keep her from harming herself.
The days continued much like this until four days after the children’s admission. At that time, their wounds were undressed and examined for severe damage. Both of the twins’ arms were severely infected, parts of their skin already beginning to die and fester. Sulfonamide was then injected into both children’s arms in several places, the administrators paying close attention to locations in which the flesh was severely damaged. The children were then once again bandaged and sent back to their chamber.
Late in the night of the fourth day, Eva began to demand that she and her brother be served twice the amount of food they were currently being given. When the researchers denied her request, she threatened to break her own bones. Fearing that their subject might become too weak and succumb to her wound, the researchers hastily complied with her request.
To their surprise, Eva did nothing with the food she was provided. In fact, there was some speculation to whether she even ate anything she was given. Joby, who had not left his cot except to eat and comply to testing, seemed to be consuming all of the food that Eva had demanded. However, Eva did not show any signs of weakness or health issues over the next few days.
Seven days after the children began testing; their wounds were once again undressed. This time, the varying results between the twins became all too obvious. Eva’s arm appeared to be healing at a normal rate, the skin beginning to seal over the wound. This pleased the researchers and, for a brief moment, they were filled with hope that their research might have yielded positive results. That is, until Joby’s wound was examined.
When they undressed the boy’s wound, the air filled with a smell that could only be described as that of a week old steak. At first it appeared that his skin was inflamed, however, at closer inspection, they realized that it was Joby’s muscle tissue, exposed by the bacteria. Parts of the gash had turned a sickly yellow, others a deep black. Sticking out amongst the mass of muscle and dying skin, you could see the boy’s bone, protruding from his arm like the limb of a tree.
It was suggested by Bichler’s partners that he immediately drop the project and leave the boy to die. However, the head researcher’s interest was perked at the massive distinction between the twins’ wounds. He ordered the children to be placed back into their chamber and monitored for one more day. If there remained to be no signs of recovery in either of them, they were to be disposed of. However, should there be a change in condition, the experiment would continue as is.
A few hours after being admitted back into their chamber, Joby began to vomit. At first it frightened the researchers, but one of them insisted that it was just a reaction to what he had witnessed in the exam room and nothing more. Yet the vomiting continued for half an hour, all the while Joby’s sister continuing her pacing, paying no heed to her brother’s well being. Soon the entire area around Joby’s cot was covered in a sea of his own stomach contents.
At around this time, the researchers noticed something odd. Eva halted her pacing and proceeded to sit down on her cot. This was the first time she had ceased the action, save eating and sleeping. She resumed almost the exact position that Joby had been maintaining throughout the duration of the experiments, the only difference being that she remained in an aura of silence.
Meanwhile, Joby continued to cough and double over in the midst of his horrific vomiting spell. It seemed that his stomach had already been emptied as he only managed to retch out spit and small chunks of what appeared to be skin bitten from the sides of his mouth. Soon blood from the removed skin began to trickle from the corners of his mouth as he continued to gag.
One of the researchers began to insist that the boy be removed from the chamber so as not to affect his sister, but Bichler wanted to see his experiment through to the end. The three scientists watched in morbid fascination as Joby began to claw at his throat and stomach, attempting to stop the horrible vomiting. His fingernails ripped lines into his skin and shirt, causing yet more blood to leak from his pale frame. He began to try to move towards Eva.
It appeared that the pain of moving was too much for him; he fell onto the concrete floor. Even through the thick observation pane, Bichler and his associates could hear the heavy crack of the boy’s skull resound throughout the room. Seemingly unaware of his predicament, the boy continued to rip at his throat and clothes, finally succeeding in tearing a large hole through the front of his shirt. Across his stomach, you could see veins of red and black, almost glowing against his skin.
Joby started to scream, his attempts feeble due to the massive damage that the retching was doing to his throat. He began to rasp his sister’s name. She remained on her cot across the room, staring at her brother in such a way that could have been fear or pity… yet it almost seemed as if she were enjoying the display. After realizing that no one was going to rush to his aid, the child ripped his nails deep into his throat, his fingers sinking deep into the agitated flesh.
With a sick, almost silent tearing, the boy ripped away the base of his throat, squirming on the floor in pain as he did so. Blood began to pour from the wound, and Joby’s movement began to lessen. After only a few minutes, he lay silent and motionless on the floor. Eva remained quiet, staring at the corpse of her newly deceased brother. She did not scream, cry, or even speak.
It is here that records end. I can only make wild speculations for what might have happened after the incident. As a historian, I am not licensed to fill in any details beyond the cold facts. However, as a human being, I feel obligated to at least share my own fears. I have accepted that no one will know what happened to Joby or Eva. I have even accepted the fact that there may have been something beyond an experiment going on behind the walls of Ravensbrück.
Yet I cannot accept the fact that a little girl could watch her brother die without a single flinch. The world is full of many horrors, some of which I struggle to grasp; but a child with that level of sociopathic tendency is beyond what I believe to be possible. Perhaps there is a fault in my records, or perhaps Eva was just too stunned and afraid to save her brother’s life. This is what I want to think; the thought that keeps me from doubting humanity more than I already have. One thought, however, tosses and turns in my mind. If all of my records are correct, Joby’s death seems to have been a result of a disturbance in his digestive system.
Eva made him eat.