AHS Asylum truths #10: Unethical biological experimentation throughout the 1900s

ONE of the key sideline stories of American Horror Story: Asylum was Dr Arden and his experimentation on TB, and eventually mentally ill, patients in the cause of engineering and bettering a new evolution of humankind; aiming for immortality and immunity. In fact, it was this dream of new evolution super creatures that persuaded Monsignor Timothy Howard to allow Dr Arden to continue.


Preying on the patients at Briarcliffe whom unfortunately had no family, ‘nobody to notice them missing’ as Sister Jude says when she thinks she’s uncovered him. Not only they were unfortunate however, as it seems his ubiquitous sadistic nature meant it was those who he simply disliked who got this treatment also, including Shelley and Spivey.

As the story lines progress throughout the series, I Am Anne Frank is the episode in which Nazi connections were made; initiating the idea of Dr Arden’s past. The infamous medical (and largely unethical!) trials carried out by the Nazi’s in WW2 are known for their horrendous and barbaric nature, and this is questionably correlated and loosely related to in Dr Arden’s storyline. It was not just eugenics which Nazi scientists were renowned for, but other various experiments in Ravensbrueck Women’s Concentration Camp.


These were some of the earliest known experiments to take place, and one is described here, where women’s legs were cut open and infected, packed with glass, dirt and splinters to ensure infection spread. This was to discover the best cures for injured German soldiers. This heinous experiment was undertaken by SS surgeon Karl Gebhardt.

Many experiments started with Walter Sonntag, the camp’s doctor. Described as a ‘sadistic brute’, he seemed to believe sex made better soldiers, and frequented brothels and raped inmates and Ravensbrueck prostitutes, and in fact tried to develop a cure for syphilis and gonorrhoea.


Perhaps totally coincidental, the personality and seemingly brutal and sadistic morals of Dr Arden seems to consistent with that of medically fascinated Nazi doctors. Creators of AHS: Asylum have definitely done their research into Nazi WW2 medical experiments and created a subtle link in the series, back with fact.



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