Sperimentation and research on humans are practices that have been used for ages and have seen its worst chapter during the inprisonment and enslavement of part of the population. Some of the most wicked esperiments took place during the last century carried out by a few scientists or alleged so whom had no respect whatsoever for life and treated millions of humans as if they were lambs to the slaughter.

10. The experiment in Stanford prison

The experiment in Stanford prison was a psychological study of human nature to the imprisonment condition and its effect on people kept in captivity and their guards. The experiment was conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by the psychologist Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University. Some volunteer students helped as prison guards, in a prison-like environment, a basement of the university. Prisoners and guards got used to their roles fairly quickly, but one of the aspects of such a test was creating potentially psychological harmful situations for all the participants.

It didn’t take long time before things started developing and after a very short time, one third of the guards showed up their proper sadistic behaviour which traumatised the prisoners. For this, two of those guards were dismissed as the consequences of their work was already visible. Furthermore, Zimbardo, alarmed by his increasingly more cruel students, decided to quit the experiment not too far from when it had started.

9. The Monster Study

The Monster Study was a study based on the stutter of 22 baby orphans from Davenport, Iowa, conducted in 1939 by Wendell Johnson. Johnson decided to use one of his students,  Mary Tudor, for conducting the experiment, whereas he was supervisioning only. After dividing the children in two study groups, Miss Tudor congratulated half of them on their speech fluidity and belittled the remaining ones for their lexical imperfections, claiming they would have developed a stutter. What this resulted in was that the very same children who got a bad grade about their speech abilities later developed psychological and speech issues, whereas the other group grew up naturally with none of that.

Renamed “The Monster Study” by some Johnson’s colleagues, who were horrified by the experiment, the research was kept secret fearing that the psychologist’s reputation would be associated with Nazi experiments in the concentration camps. The University of Iowa officially apologised for its past monstrous study in 2001.

8. The project 4.1

Project 4.1 is the designation of a medical study on the Marshall Islands. The study was conducted in an area where the inhabitants had been exposed to the radioactive fallout of the nuclear test on the 1st of March 1954 named “Castle Bravo” at Bikini Atoll. The accident had devastating effects on the population, even though it was tough to link those unusual outcomes to the radiations. For the first five years after the fallout, abortion and born-dead children doubled up in numbers, then the statistics came back to normal. Some difficulties on the development of children were noticed too, but it was quite hard to insert that data in a model.

In the following decades though, the effects were undeniable. Children started suffering from thyroid cancer in an excessive number (caused by radiations exposure) with one third of those tumors developed after 1974. Many people died in this large scale experiment conducted without any approval from the government, going against any type of international laws on human rights.

7. The MKULTRA project

The MKULTRA or MK-ULTRA project was a code for a CIA research program on mental control started in 1950 and continued until the end of 1960. There are proofs that the project would make use of drugs, along with other methodologies, in order to manipulate the subjects thoughts and decisions. The goal was to create special spies and soldiers able to operate in a continuous subconscious state which would have prevented them from revealing informations in case they were captured and tortured by the enemies. LSD was one of the most used drugs which had been massively employed.

6. The Aversion project

During the Apartheid, in the South African army, gay soldiers were forced to proceed to a  surgical operation in order to change their sex. A surgeon, in that period, revealed that around 900 operations called “sexual repositioning”   happened between 1971 and 1989.

The army would find out about the soldiers homosexuality thanks to either the priests within the army itself or the psychiatric units sent over for the purpose. The surgery would be the last chance after tentatives of electroshock therapy, hormone treatments  and other correcting strategies of such tendencies. If none of the above would bring any improvement to the “condition”, the operating table was set up to welcome the soldier, even against his will. Not all the operations succeeded, especially with female patients, and the tragic consequences often led to suicides and psychological devastation.

Aubrey Levin was the leader of the study and, despite the horror he was in charge of, he is the Clinic Professor in the Psychiatry Department, Forensic division, at the Medical School of Calgary in Canada. He also operates in a private studio as a member of the Alberta’s College of Doctors and  Surgeons

5. Sperimentations in the concentration camps of North Korea

Many warnings of the esperimentations on humans arrives from North Korea. These reports show how methods and researches were pretty comparable to the ones carried out by Nazi and Japanese people during the second world war. North Korea denies completely such a matter but the reliability of the dictatorship of the country makes it poorly plausible. One of many ones was an ex female prisoner telling how 50 women got forced to eat poisoned cabbage leaves, despite the screaming of their companions who had just consumed them and started to feel bad.

All 50 women died after 20 minutes of vomiting and anal bleeding. Refusing to eat them would have been resulted in the murder and retaliation against their families. Kwon Hyok, ex leader of the prison Camp 22, described the laboratories as perfectly equipped with gas chambers, rooms for bloody experiments and other wonders from the circus of horror.

Kwon Hyok states he had seen a two parents and their two children dying from gas suffocation, with the parents trying up until the very last moment to keep their sons alive by mouth to mouth resuscitation.

4. The Poison laboratory of the Soviet scientists

Poison laboratory of the Soviet secret services, also known as Laboratory 1, Laboratory 12, or Kamera (the Cell in Russian), was a secret structure focused on the research and development of poisons. The Soviets would test a series of mortal poisons on prisoners from the Gulag, including mustard gas, ricin, digitoxin, and many others.

The aim of the experiments was finding an odourless chemical substance which would not leave any trace post mortem. The poisons were given to the victims along with their meal or beverage,  passed off as medicines. They eventually came out with a substance with those desired properties, called C-2. The victim would grow weak, become silent then die within 15 minutes.

3. Tuskegee study on syphilis

The Tuskegee of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male was a clinic study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Here, 399 African sharecroppers, most of whom were illiterates, were used as test subjects for observing syphilis. At that time a cure for such a condition was still not available hence those subjects got treated with sperimental remedies to test their efficacy.

Despite the discovery of penicillin, the experiment persisted until 1972, treating the patients with placebo and ineffective methods to test the effects of the desease on their bodies. At the end of the study,  74 of those people were still alive. 28 men had died directly from the condition, 100 for related complications, 40 of their wives got infected and 19 of their sons were born with congenital syphilis.

2. The 731 Unit of the Japanese Army

The Unit 731 was a project finalised on weapons development for the biological and chemical war on the part of the Japanese Imperial Army. They handled a series of human experiments during the Sino- Japanese war (1936-1945) and its following Second World War. During this project some of the most terrifying acts of the medical history took place here.

The ward was supervised by Shiro Ishii and it would concern vivisection without anesthesia (for example to women who had been impregnated by doctors), prisoners with amputated limbs or frozen limbs which were defrosted in order to observe the effects of untreated gangrene.

Many people were also used as test subjects for experiments on grenades and flame throwers. Prisoners were infected by viruses so that the effects of such diseases could be studied. For testing venereal infections, many men and women were deliberately raped to infect them with syphilis and gonorrhoea.

Ishii was, like many others of his colleagues, eventually hired by the US as scientists as well as the results of their studies,  with no necessity to atone for his actions. On Wikipedia it is available a full list of all the crimes that had been committed.

1. The Nazi experiments

The Nazi experimentation in the concentration camps happened to be fairly similar to the ones that the Japanese Secret Unit perpetrated, but in this case the tests were performed on people considered not to be worthy.

The key people of those tests were Joseph Mengele the Death Angel, Eduard Wirths leader in Auschwitz, Sigmund Rascher and many other doctors who had been forced to operate even against their own will. A brief list of experiments is shown below:

-Test of decompression for rescue from great height
-test of prolonged frostbite/cooling
-test of anti petechial vaccination
-research on epidemic hepatitis
-experiments on sterilisation
-x rays and surgical castration
-study on the precancerous conditions of the cervix
-research on monozygotic twins
-research on the hormone cure of homosexuality


It is mandatory to quote a great writer who endured the dramatic events and the death in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Maybe the man whom better than anyone else has been able to put into words how a human being can be so far away from being human: Primo Levi:

“You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find warm food
And friendly faces when you return home.
Consider if this is a man
Who works in mud,
Who knows no peace,
Who fights for a crust of bread,
Who dies by a yes or no.
Consider if this is a woman
Without hair, without name,
Without the strength to remember,
Empty are her eyes, cold her womb,
Like a frog in winter.
Never forget that this has happened.
Remember these words.
Engrave them in your hearts,
When at home or in the street,
When lying down, when getting up.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your houses be destroyed,
May illness strike you down,
May your offspring turn their faces from you.”

All pictures are in the public domain

Matteo Rubboli

I am a publisher specialised in the digital distribution of culture and founder of the portal Vanilla Magazine. I don't wear a tie or branded clothes, I keep my hair short so I don't have to comb it. That's not my fault but just the way I've been drawn as...

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