Nazism was based on racist and antisemitic theories that affirmed the superiority of the "Aryan" people, the "pure German race", over all other human beings. German doctors and academics won over by Hitler's ideas sought to prove these theories through pseudo-scientific investigations. Experiments were carried out on various diseases, combat gases were used and "race studies" carried out on prisoners in a number of Nazi concentration camps.
At KL-Natzweiler, a series of "medical" experiments were conducted as part of the work of the Reichsuniversität, the Reich University of Strasbourg, and Ahnenerbe, the SS administration attached to the headquarters of Himmler in Berlin. The principal perpetrators of these experiments were: August Hirt, a professor of anatomy known internationally, Otto Bickenbach, a professor of medicine and specialist in combat gases, and Eugen Haagen, a virologist who had discovered a vaccination against typhus that put him on the short-list for the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1936.
Hirt carried out experiments on mustard gas and planned to create a collection of skeletons using the bodies of 86 Jews deported from Auschwitz; Bickenbach carried out experiments on phosgene gas and Haagen continued his work on the effects of typhus.