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Karl Gebhardt (23 November 1897 in Haag - 2 June 1948 in Landsberg am Lech) was a German medical doctor; personal physician of Heinrich Himmler and one of the main coordinators and perpetrators of surgical experiments performed on inmates of the concentration camps at Ravensbrück and Auschwitz.
Gebhardt was born in Haag in Oberbayern, Bavaria. In 1919, he took up studies in medicine in Munich. He habilitated in 1935 and got a post as associate professor in Berlin the next year. As of 1937, he held a chair of orthopedic surgery.
Gebhardt's Nazi career began with his joining the NSDAP on 1 May 1933. Two years later, he also joined the SS and became head physician at the sanatorium of Hohenlychen in the Uckermark, which he changed from a clinic for tuberculosis patients into an orthopedic clinic and later, during World War II, into a hospital for the Waffen-SS. In 1938, Gebhardt was appointed as Heinrich Himmler's personal physician.
Gebhardt rose to the rank of a Group Leader (Gruppenführer) in the SS and a Major General (Generalmajor) in the Waffen SS.
Having either ordered them or carried them out, Gebhardt was directly responsible for numerous surgical experiments performed on concentration camp inmates. He was particularly active at the women's camp in Ravensbrück (which was close to Hohenlychen) and the camp in Auschwitz.
During World War II, Gebhardt also acted for some time as the President of the German Red Cross.
By 22 April 1945, the Soviets were entering Berlin and Joseph Goebbels brought his wife and children into the Führerbunker. German dictator Adolf Hitler and a few loyal personnel were there to direct the final defence of Berlin. Gebhardt, in his capacity as the Red Cross leader, approached Goebbels about taking the children out of the city with him. But he was dismissed by Goebbels.
After the war, Gebhardt stood trial in the Doctors' Trial together with 22 other Nazi doctors before a U.S. military tribunal, where he was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death on 20 August 1947. He was hanged on 2 June 1948, in Landsberg prison in Bavaria.
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