Horst Schumann

1 May 1906
5 May 1983
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Horst Schumann (1 May 1906 – 5 May 1983), SS-Sturmbannführer (major) and medical doctor, conducted sterilization and castration experiments at Auschwitz and was particularly interested in the mass sterilization of Jews by means of X-rays.

Schumann was born on 1 May 1906 in Halle an der Saale. His father, Paul Schumann, was also a doctor. Schumann entered the NSDAP in 1930 and joined the SA in 1932. In 1933, he received his medical degree after producing a thesis entitled “Frage der Jodresorption und der therapeutischen Wirkung sog.

From 1934, Schumann was employed in the Public Health Office in Halle. He was recruited to the air force as a physician in 1939. He joined the Aktion T4 Euthanasia program in early October 1939, after a meeting with Dr. Viktor Brack in Hitler’s chancellery.

On 28 July 1941, Schumann arrived in Auschwitz. He worked at Block 30 in the women’s hospital, where he set up an x-ray station in 1942.

While serving as a military doctor on the Western Front, he was captured by the Americans in January 1945. He was released from captivity in October 1945. In April 1946, he began to work as a sports doctor for the city of Gladbeck. An application for a license for a hunting gun led to his being identified in 1951 so the GDR issued an arrest warrant. According to his own statement, Schumann served as a ship’s doctor for three years and because he did not have a German passport, he applied for one in Japan in 1954 and received it under his own name. Schumann then fled, first to Egypt and eventually settled in Khartoum in the Sudan as head of a hospital. He was forced to flee from Sudan in 1962 after being recognized by an Auschwitz survivor. Then he went to Ghana, where he received the protection of the head of state, Kwame Nkrumah.

In 1966, he was extradited from Ghana to West Germany where the trial against him was opened in Frankfurt on 23 September 1970. However, Schumann was released from prison on 29 July 1972 due to his heart condition and generally deteriorating health. He did not die until 5 May 1983, 11 years after he had been released. As Robert Jay Lifton has observed “…Schumann has great importance for us because of what he did – intense involvement in both direct medical killing and unusually brutal Auschwitz experiments – and what he was – an ordinary, but highly Nazified man and doctor…”

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