Dr. Herbert Gerstner Electrocuted and Burned German Children, Then Exposed US Patients to Lethal Radiation
Another of the medical monsters who got away with it and got a new life thanks to Operation Paperclip, was Dr. Herbert Bruno Gerstner, who was brought to the US in 1949. During the Nazi era, he had worked on Aktion T4, a mass murder program of involuntary euthanasia, that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of those deemed “unfit to live” because of incurable illnesses, physical or mental. The T4 program was a precursor to the Holocaust, and many of its techniques and operating procedures would be used a few years later, on a grander scale, against Europe’s Jews.
In the 1930s, Gerstner worked for the University of Leipzig, which employed some of the involuntary euthanasia program’s most prominent doctors. He started off by interning as a research assistant for a doctor Gildemeister, an authority on the effects of electrocution, and a leading researcher in the electromagnetic field. Gerstner also got involved with a psychiatrist named Panse, who developed an extreme electroshock therapy that a US government report described as “pure, unadulterated sadism“.
Many consider Gerstner’s sickest work to be the T4 program. Like other participating doctors, he took the lives of the euthanasia program’s victims. However, Gerstner and his mentor, Gildemeister, went the extra mile in horridness, and subjected the victims of the T4 program to sadistic tests before euthanizing them. The duo conducted cruel experiments on hundreds of human test subjects, subjecting them to electric shocks and burns, to examine the wounds inflicted on human skin by burns and electrocution. Most of their victims were selected from the “feeble minded” children slated for euthanasia.
That did not keep him from getting selected for Operation Paperclip, despite openly admitting to US officials that he had experimented on human subjects, such as cancer patients and “old people and young people who were sick”. He was sent to San Antonio, where he worked in the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Hospital’s Cancer Research Center. The CIA and Air Force made use of his expertise by having him conduct research on the effects of electrocution and radiation on the human body.
Needless to say, Gestner’s cancer patients in San Antonio knew nothing of his Nazi past, nor just what kind of experiments he performed on his former patients. Gerstner’s primary aim was not to treat his cancer patients with an eye towards curing them, but to gather information, even if it killed his patients. Many believe, in the name of science, this was worth the sacrifice. Unfortunately, his patients did frequently die. 263 cancer patients were experimented upon with “full body irradiation”, which subjected them to extremely high doses of X-ray that would eventually be their demise.