Victims of Nazi Medical Experiments Get Symbolic Justice in Form of $5,400

Justice has been a long time in coming for Elizabeth Fried, 88.

A survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, Fried was one of an unknown number of Jews used as human guinea pigs by Nazi scientists and doctors.

For eight months beginning in May 1944, Fried was given injections by the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele in experiments that left her forever unable to have children.

Now, 60 years later, Fried is one of 1,778 living Jewish victims of Nazi medical experiments who will soon be receiving one-time payments of about $5,400 each from Germany for their suffering.

“These people have been to hell,” said Gideon Taylor, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, which announced the payments at a news conference Monday. “These are symbolic payments to the victims.”

The total number of victims of experiments by German scientists and doctors under the Nazi regime is unknown. Experiments on Jews including sterilization, amputation of limbs, organ removal, infusion of infectious diseases, immersion in ice waiter and Mengele’s infamous experiments on twins.

Because most experiments tested how much pain, torture or disease humans could endure before dying, the vast majority of experiment subjects were killed.

“For survivors, it is a day of muted triumph,” said Roman Kent, chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. “Because in spite of the plan to annihilate all of us, some of us did survive to enable the Jewish people to live.”

The one-time payments will be mailed out this week, Claims Conference officials said. The victims were identified by a question about Nazi experimentation on the claim form for compensation for Nazi slave labor. Researchers then verified claimants’ stories, identifying 1,778 claimants and an additional 119 cases of heirs of Nazi-experiment victims, who will receive their payments shortly.

The payments come from Germany under the same agreement that established compensation guidelines for the victims of Nazi slave- and forced-labor camps.

“It is very little for many of the medical experiments that we have suffered, but it’s better than nothing,” one of survivors of Nazi experiments, Eva Mozes Kor, told JTA.

“The fact is that none of us survivors have a great deal of choice in the matter,” she said. “We’ll take whatever we can get.”

Kor, who will turn 70 on Saturday, founded the Holocaust museum in Terre Haute, Ind., that burned down in November in a suspected arson attack. The museum’s name, CANDLES, is an acronym for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors.

“For many of the victims, $5,400 will come in very handy,” Kor said.

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