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The Zombie as Barometer of Cultural Anxiety
Free shipping. The idea was to determine the human survival thresholds for Nazi soldiers. One example was an experiment to determine the altitude at which air force crews could safely parachute. Prisoners were placed in low-pressure chambers to replicate the thin atmosphere of flight, and observed to see when organs began to fail. A body temperature probe was inserted into the rectum of prisoners, who were then frozen in a variety of manners for example, immersion in ice water or standing naked in the snow.
It was established that consciousness was lost, followed quickly by death, when body temperature reached 25 C. Bodies of the nearly-frozen were then brought back up in temperature through a variety of similarly unpleasant manners, such as immersion in near-boiling water. Himmler himself suggested the most bizarre, but least cruel, method of reviving a hypothermic — by obliging him to have sex in a warm bed with multiple ladies.
This was actually practiced and seemed to work, at least better than the other methods. But the very idea that experiments were undertaken to kill or almost kill, humans through freezing, and then determine how best to resuscitate them, bring them back to life, is not a long leap to the reanimation of the clinically dead. The second category of tests included those with pharmaceuticals and experimental surgeries, with inmates used like lab rats.
Doctors tested immunizations against contagious diseases like malaria, typhus, hepatitis and tuberculosis, injecting prisoners and exposing them to diseases, then observing what happened. Procedural experiments, like those involving bone-grafting without anesthetic, which took place at the Ravensbrueck concentration camp, could also fall into this category.
Antidotes were sought to chemical weapons like mustard gas and phosgene, with no regard for the well-being of those experimented upon. November saw an experiment with a cocktail drug called D-IX, at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
D-IX included cocaine and a stimulant called pervitine. The goal was to determine the outer limit of stamina induced by the pills. The D-IX pill proper, launched March 16th, , included in each pill 5 mg of cocaine, 3 mg of pervitine, 5 mg of eucodal a morphine-based painkiller and synthetic cocaine.
It was tested in the field with the Forelle diversionary unit of submariners. The experimentation and use of the pills, both on prisoners and soldiers, was considered very successful, and a plan was put in place to supply pills to the whole Nazi army, but the Allied victory months later stopped this. The third category was racial, or ideological testing, famously overseen by Josef Mengele, who experimented on twins and gypsies, to see how different races responded to contagious diseases.
It was a breeding program in which racially-ideal Aryan men and women tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed, strong Nordic bone structure were obliged to breed, in order to produce more, and purer, Aryan children. This, too, has an echo of resurrection to it. Resurrecting the lost purity of the original Aryans from Thule, and bringing back their superhuman powers, through breeding programs with pure-blooded Aryans.
We think of the Nazis as crazy, cartoonishly-evil super villains. And many were. The facts attest that they were capable of lunatic theories and illogic. They are confirmed to have believed things no less fanciful than reanimating the dead. But what does this tell us about how we consider them today? Each person under the auspices of Nazi Germany was three-dimensional, even the comic book super-villains like Himmler and Sievers.
People made decisions within the context of the political atmosphere, acting better or worse than was expected or commanded of them. The cauldron of the Second World War provoked bestial behavior in individuals, not just in big-name villains, and prompted acts of good amidst the turmoil.
To lump so many millions of three-dimensional humans together under the banner of Nazi Germany both excuses the evil behavior and dismisses the good. It also risks dismissing the slow-build of Nazi power with a flick of the wrist: as if it was born of a cartoonish madness that could not happen again whereas North Korea or ISIS, for example, seem to be incubators of similar behavior. If you can blame Nazi zombies for all the evil, you can take blame away from the Nazi humans. Hegel never said that zombies were responsible for evil humans' actions. One can take what circumstantial evidence one has and tie all this to mass psychology and actual history, or such.
I do not know how many times I have been asked about the Nazis and the occult during my career ever since I published the Ahnenerbe book in , and then some.
If people cannot explain something in ordinary, human, terms, they come up with conspiracy theories. Creationists need religion. Kater draws a parallel to the theories that rise up in other horrifying historical events.
- ISBN 13: 9780312946432!
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These are incidents so gross that something super-natural must be behind them. However, it is really true: history writes the best, or the most gruesome, novels; makes the best films.
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At the end of the day, we can say without doubt that certain influential Nazis very much believed in the occult, and founded a research institute, the Ahnenerbe, to look into it. They engaged in experiments as bizarre and gruesome as trying to raise the dead, and they may well have toyed with that idea as well, although documentary evidence of it has not survived. But our mental construct of the Nazis, and the way popular culture assigns to them a two-dimensional, comic book type of evil, is as interesting, if not more so, than the question of whether they sought to raise a zombie army or animate their long-dead Teutonic warlords.