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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 11:45 GMT
Victims tell of Nazi experiments
Jewish deportees in the Auschwitz camp, Poland
Experiments were carried out on men women and children
Thousands of victims of Nazi medical experiments have received a symbolic pay-out after giving accounts of World War II atrocities.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany said nearly 1,800 survivors had helped provide new information about Nazi activities.

It said they had each been paid $5,400 (3,000) from Holocaust court funds.

Some countries were marking Holocaust Day on Tuesday - the 59th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz camp.

The Claims Conference, as it is known, hopes the survivors' accounts will lead to further research into Nazi medical experiments - one of the less documented aspects of the Holocaust.

"Sixty years after the fact, you're suddenly piecing together history," said the conference's executive vice-president Gideon Taylor.

"Up to now, little historical research has focused on this area. The material we found will add tremendously to the knowledge of these terrible events, which are among the most heinous in world history."

They hate to describe it because they'd have to relive it - and who wants to be subjected to a nightmare like that again?
Roman Kent,
Holocaust survivor
The group said 1,778 living Jewish victims of Nazi medical experiments were identified. Their stories included references to about 178 different types of medical experiments in more than 30 camps and ghettos, according to the conference.

The list, including Doctor Josef Mengele's experimentation on twins and dwarves, also referred to injections to change the colour of people's eyes, sterilisation, injections with poisons and germs, amputations and unnecessary removal of organs, often without anaesthesia.

The chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, Roman Kent, said some survivors would never surface.

He said he had blocked out episodes of his time at Auschwitz and the ghetto.

"Even to close friends, they hate to describe it because they'd have to relive it - and who wants to be subjected to a nightmare like that again?" he said.

Some of the testimonies are recorded on the conference's website.

'Guinea pig'

One survivor, now 73, who did not want to be named, described how she was picked out by Dr Mengele in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

"I was used as a guinea pig for medical experiments. I was never ever given painkillers or anaesthetics," she said.

"Every day I suffered excruciating pain... My body most of the time was connected to tubes which inserted some drugs in to my body. Some days they made cuts in to my body and left the wounds open for them to study."

She said the experiments continued until she was eventually taken to hospital by Russian soldiers who had liberated the camp.

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