When governments conducted experiments on their own people in history up to the early 1900s, it was usually on people society looked down upon. Yet things really changed heavily in Nazi Germany, once Adolph Hitler took power and rounded up Jewish people. He blamed all the nation’s problems on them when there were many problems often unrelated to the Jews. In spite of this, over 6 million Jewish people were rounded up and put into Concentration Camps.
Several people were killed, and many more were put to work in labor camps. Yet some were forced to be Nazi lab rats for their scientists to experiment on. They forced some to drink seawater as a way to find ways to make it drinkable. Others were forced into freezing conditions to test hypothermia symptoms. Many unlucky few tested poisons, while potentially the worst were the surgical experiments. One being bone-grafting. Some were even given tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis, and other diseases to help the Nazis develop vaccines. There were far more than this too.
At some point in 1943, the United States Navy decided it wanted to expose its sailors to mustard gas. The official experiment was supposed to test the effectiveness of new clothing and gas masks. Since the gas was so damaging during World War I, it made sense to want to find ways to battle it. This led them to conduct experiments at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington. The Navy recruited thousands of 17 & 18-year-old boys that were all roughly eight weeks into boot camp.
They were told that they needed people to help with experiments that could help them shorten the war. The boys jumped at the chance to help their country. When governments conducted experiments on their own people, as we know, there is always a catch. Only once the boys arrived at the Research Lab, they were told it would involve mustard gas. But they could not get out of the experiment now. Pretty much all of them suffered severe external and internal burns, which were ignored by the Navy. They even threatened some with the Espionage Act, which the nation used to punish spies, terrorists, etc.
Possibly the worst thing we ever did to our own people outside of slavery & war has to be the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. For this study, which began in 1932, the U.S. Public Health Service began working with the Tuskegee Institute. They wanted to try to find a way to curb the effects of Syphilis. Yet they also wanted to track the progression of the disease to better understand it too. To do this, they went to Macon County, Alabama, and decided to pick 600 poor, illiterate, black male sharecroppers. 399 of them had previously contracted syphilis. However, they did not know they had it.
The government doctors did not tell them they had it either. However, they did promise them free healthcare, meals, and even burial insurance if they participated in their study. Being poor, this was life-changing for them. Even when we found that Penicillin could cure the illness, the government did not alert them of their syphilis diagnosis. In fact, they followed these men (even as many were dying), up to 1972 before the study was ended. Due to the lack of knowledge, many of the men’s wives caught the disease and their children were often born with congenital syphilis. It even led to a rise in the disease nationwide!