Hermann Becker-Freyseng

Hermann Becker-Freyseng

German medic, Luftwaffe staff doctor
Date of Birth: 16.06.1910
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Hermann Becker-Freyseng
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Involvement in Medical Experiments
  4. Nuremberg Trials and Conviction
  5. Later Life and Death

Biography of Hermann Becker-Freyseng

Hermann Becker-Freyseng was a German physician and chief medical officer of the German Luftwaffe. He was one of twenty doctors accused at the Nuremberg Trials, a series of military tribunals held between December 9, 1946, and August 20, 1947.

Early Life and Career

Hermann Becker-Freyseng was born on June 18, 1910, in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Germany. In early May 1933, he joined the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP), and in January 1936, he became an assistant at the Berlin University Hospital. In 1939, Becker-Freyseng transferred to the Research Institute for Aviation Medicine, under the auspices of the Luftwaffe.

Involvement in Medical Experiments

From 1941, Becker-Freyseng was involved in conducting research experiments on human subjects in concentration camps, as well as for the Luftwaffe. He was part of an experiment aimed at improving the survival rates of pilots shot down by enemy aircraft. The main objective was to study the effects of pressure differentials on the subjects. At the Dachau concentration camp, Becker-Freyseng created a model that simulated the situation of a "pilot" parachuting into cold water after being shot down. The low-pressure chamber simulated the conditions of falling from 21,000 meters, resulting in the subjects' deaths.

Nuremberg Trials and Conviction

During the Nuremberg Trials, Becker-Freyseng, along with Romburg, Ruff, and Weltz, was accused of conducting similar experiments. Additionally, the Luftwaffe tasked doctors with researching ways to convert saltwater into freshwater, anticipating that surviving pilots would face a shortage of drinking water at sea. Conrad Schaefer proposed using desalination techniques with various chemicals, while other Nazi scientists advocated for high levels of vitamin C in the so-called "Berke water." After much debate, both methods were tested on prisoners.

Becker-Freyseng was found guilty of orchestrating cruel experiments involving seawater on humans during the Nuremberg Trials. However, no evidence was found to implicate him in the experimentation involving pressure differentials. He was sentenced to twenty years for crimes against humanity and participation in war crimes (Counts II and III), but his sentence was reduced to ten years on January 31, 1951. On November 20, 1952, Becker-Freyseng was released from prison.

Later Life and Death

Upon invitation from the United States Air Force, Becker-Freyseng visited America. In 1960, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. A year later, on August 27, 1961, he passed away in Linz am Rhein, Germany.