H.C.D.T. (The Human Communication Deprivation Test)
Under the supervision of notorious SS officer Josef Mengele, an experiment designed to determine the natural path of human communication and behavior was devised. It was unanimously decided that the test could only be executed with “pure” test subjects; untainted individuals that could be monitored and medicated appropriately without fear of external social contamination.
Infants were deemed the only possible experimental group.
The infants were not chosen arbitrarily; the parents of said infants (henceforth labeled “Euclids”) were discovered via a carefully structured battery of physiological and psychological examinations designed to test human ingenuity and resiliency. The Euclids were paired into twenty-five sets: one male, one female. The Euclid pairs were then instructed to breed. Upon confirmed impregnation, the male Euclids were expunged. The female Euclids remained in solitary confinement, afforded only the minimum level of care and nutrition necessary to bring the fetus to term.
No external stimuli that might affect the cognitive development of the fetus was permitted. The female Euclids were not permitted to sing or listen to music. Speaking was only admissible when addressing medical staff. Where necessary, straps and/or sedatives were used to discourage the subject’s ability to self-terminate.
When the infants (henceforth labeled “Leer Sind”) were born, they were immediately removed from the mother and placed into incubation units.
Two of the twenty-five Euclid females gave birth to twins.
The excess subjects were subsequently expunged.
The Euclid females were, likewise, expunged.
Once the Leer Sind had been stabilized, all twenty-five subjects were transferred to an undisclosed and unmarked facility in Poland. There, under close supervision, a specialized maternal unit comprised of elite nurses and SS doctors began raising the subjects in near-complete isolation. Every four days, each subject was given a classified and highly-experimental drug, which when given orally, would stimulate the subject’s temporal lobe. The maternal unit’s objective was to induce a need for communication within a social vacuum.
For a time, the unit’s findings remained within expected parameters.
Then, almost simultaneously, the subjects began to display… unusual behavior.
The following are noted excerpts from the journal of Head Nurse Gretchen Schroder, who oversaw daily care of the subjects, and was additionally tasked with recording the observations of Chief Researcher, Dr. Klausen, as well as his general prognoses of the experiment:
(Translated from German)
All of the subjects were delivered today.
I won’t deny my discomfort at the insistence of my superiors that I take this job. I have never questioned my role within the Party, and never has my conviction been proven so pure as the day I first saw them within their cells. Vermin, all of them. Dr. Klausen insists that they are the best of their stock, but try as I might, I cannot see it. Their gangly frames, their pale, stretched skin…
How can anything so frail be expected to give birth to a child that might live longer than a span of a few hours? I felt relieved when the females were finally taken to the depot following delivery. At the very least, their stink will no longer cling to me as I climb into bed, smothering me as I sleep. Still, the Leer Sind are scarcely better. Their cries seem to shake the walls in this horrid place. It is so dark and damp here. I doubt the wretched things will live to see their first week.
In the few days that I have tended to the subjects, I can already say with confidence that I have never desired the death of a child more strongly than I do now. Three of the subjects nearly tore their own vocal chords from the screaming. Endless screaming. Fortunately, we administered the first batch of drugs today. Dr. Klausen noted that 90% of the subjects became noticeably calmer after ingesting the pill. The other 10%, however, only seem to grow more agitated. The Doctor had to force the pill down the throat of subject #18. Some of the nurses have taken to calling #18 Rudel, after the glorious Stuka pilot. I personally find the notion offensive. A Jew does not deserve the honor of being named after a war hero. Still, I let the nurses have their fun. It is stressful enough being confined within this place. We do not get our first vacation until June. I must remember my Papa’s wisdom, “Take each day in stride, until such time has passed that there are only memories of a life well-earned remaining.”
I have not forgotten, Papa.
It has been two months now.
The subjects still live, all of them. I have not been proven wrong often; fewer times than I care to count. Yet, when I pass each incubation unit and see their red faces, raw from countless tears, I can see the fight in them. Dr. Klausen has noted that the subjects’ limbs shake far more erratically than the typical 2-month child. Such behavior is expected. The subjects have had little more than the fleetest of human contact. All nurses are forbidden to look the subjects in the eye, and the lactation specialists are under strict orders to limit skin contact where possible. The subjects have never felt another human’s touch, save for the warmth of their mother’s womb, and the n****e that swiftly feeds them, only to be removed before they can learn their nurturer’s scent. All lactation specialists rotate following every feeding, so the subjects can never adopt them as their own. They are completely isolated.
As I look at the wretched things, screaming long into the night, I feel no pity, yet a curious voice has begun to whisper to me.
Is there really any good that can come from this?
I suffered my second nightmare last night. I was holding my son in my arms. He was dead. I screamed his name again and again, but his eyes were like glass. They sparkled like windows in the sunlight, yet beyond them, I saw nothing but emptiness. He was a shell, hollow and cold. I awoke sweating as though I had been locked in a furnace. I’ve never been so hot. I went up to the surface for air, and I saw Helga, a young nurse from Berlin. She was smoking a cigarette and shivering, but it was not cold, even in the night. When I spoke to her, she said she couldn’t sleep. Every time she laid her head down, she told me, the screams of the subjects would come to her. Despite their incubation units nearly 25 meters below ground, buried in concrete, she could still hear them. Her eyes looked vacant, listless. She confessed she had not slept in two days, but I could see it in her face. I could hear it in her voice.
She hasn’t slept in weeks.
Despite the bleakness of our work here, we did receive some good news today. General Kleist has successfully routed Kharitonov’s 9th Army, and the Fatherland continues to push deeper into the Soviet’s territory. With the guidance of our glorious generals, and the vision of our Fuhrer, we will surely win this war.
Of this, I have no shred of doubt.
An incident occurred with one of the nurses, Delia, today. During the administration of the subjects’ drug, Delia encountered nothing outside of conventional behavior from all subjects until she reached #18’s incubation unit. Subjects #1 through #17 screamed and wailed throughout the entire ingestion process, as is typical of them. However, upon entering #18’s unit, Delia noticed that he immediately stopped crying. At first, Delia assumed he was merely exhausted, and proceeded to lift the pill to his mouth without looking directly at him, as instructed. When #18 did not react, Delia looked down and into his face. What exactly happened at that point, is not yet fully clear. She admitted to dropping the pill and leaving the room. When questioned, she simply said she saw nothing human in his eyes. She is noticeably paler, and has not stopped shaking. Dr. Klausen has recommended her for a psychological evaluation, and will possibly be filing a billet for a replacement.
“Some are not fit for our noble work,” he said to me afterword, when no one else could hear him.
#18, Rudel as the nurses call him, has not cried since.
Today, we gathered the subjects, and placed them into the observation room together for the first time. They are now strong enough to sit, and thus, Dr. Klausen has decided that it is the best time for them to begin interacting amongst themselves and develop a ‘rapport’ as he describes it. As we placed the subjects into the chamber, I caught one of the nurses whispering to subject #12. I could not hear what she said, nor did I inquire, but from her face, she appeared to be soothing her. I did not wish to see Nurse Heidi reprimanded, so I whistled sharply and glared at her. She nearly fell when she saw me. Once all the subjects had been placed into the chamber, we watched as they began to squirm and roll, gradually discovering one another. For a time, their eyes bulged with shock; I confess myself almost relieved to see them discover that they were not alone. Yet, Rudel proves himself to be the most peculiar anomaly. With a broad sweep of his neck, he scanned the room, almost appearing to count the other subjects. Once he had studied every wriggling body, his face turned up to the mirror, from which behind we were discreetly watching. Dr. Klausen let out a slow exhale, lost in his thoughts. At first, I thought Rudel was simply studying the reflection of the ceiling, but as I looked into his eyes for the first time, I understood what Delia had meant. He seemed to stare through the glass, as though nothing could conceal the truth. He did not possess the eyes of an infant; he studied the glass, studied us, as if we were standing right in front of him.
Dr. Klausen ended the test shortly afterwards.
I can barely write, but I find I have no other means of release. The tears cloud my eyes like smoke, and horror fills my heart. Nurse Heidi was executed today, killed by firing squad, and it is my doing. As I made my nightly rounds, I passed through the occasional wail and scream. The subjects have steadily grown quieter, yet as I approached the units of #12 and #11, I heard only the muffled sounds of a grown woman’s voice. I recognized it immediately as Heidi’s soothing from when I had previously caught her. When I approached the door of #12’s unit and looked through the viewing glass, I nearly fainted. Sitting across from the door, sprawled against the wall, Nurse Heidi had both subjects #12 and #11 latched onto her, attempting to feed them. I screamed in shock as I ripped the unit’s door open, but Heidi did not look up. She paid no attention to me. Calmly, Heidi glanced from #12 to #11, cooing to them and stroking their heads as they suckled. The guards came shortly afterwards. They had heard my scream. Heidi did not respond to their commands, and it was not until they tore the subjects away from her that she finally awoke from her stupor. She lunged like a crazed animal at the nearest soldier, clawing at him as though possessed. The soldier cried out in surprise, and violently, Heidi raked her nails across his face. Then she screamed, “My children… You cannot have my children…”
Her voice crackled like tinder in a firepit, and I will never forget her face when she called for them: Subjects #12 and #11.
Brutally, the soldiers bound Heidi and carried her up to the surface. Her fate was decided within the hour. Even when the rifles centered on her heart, Heidi never came to her senses. I’m told that just before the order was given, she laughed, and mocked her executioners, telling them,
“My children will be with me soon.”
Dr. Klausen ordered us to secure the incubation units following the incident. As I ensured the security of every unit, I passed Rudel’s window, and glanced in. He was propped against the frame of his crib, watching me. I hesitated for only a moment, forgetting myself as I stared back at him. It was only a moment, but within that fraction of a heartbeat, I could feel his gaze rend me apart.
It is a new year. A new beginning. I should be happy. I should be hopeful for the opportunities that lie undiscovered for me, but I feel nothing. The war continues to drag on. So many lives lost, so much death and chaos. The Fatherland has seen so many of its sons die that I can hardly utter the sobriquet without sneering in bitter irony. Yet, it has become increasingly clearer to me that sons and daughters do not hold the same value as strength and honor do to the Party. What then, will become of me? I dare not utter my doubts aloud; I myself can hardly believe I have them. Perhaps it is the cynicism that comes with age. No, I find myself thinking, as I lie awake at night. There is no more sleep, so thinking is all I can do as of late. How proud Papa would be…
It has been over two weeks since Heidi’s execution. The children have not cried since. No wails, no tears, nothing. The staff is growing increasingly paranoid, and three nurses have been reprimanded and isolated for having been caught whispering to the children. Dr. Klausen is spending more and more time locked within his office, poring over notes and journals. I often find myself passing Rudel’s unit, glancing in, but he no longer watches the viewing glass. I think he has forgotten me, or at least, that’s what he wants me to believe. I know that it is against my prerogative, but I’m going to switch places with the feeding specialist at his next meal. I want to see if there is any spark of recognition when he sees me. Perhaps he will associate me with food, or perhaps not. Perhaps I am risking too much. I am so uncertain. Rudel is such a good boy; strong and silent. I wonder if perhaps I have become too involved, if the test has become contaminated.
Only time will tell.
Today is the children’s first birthday. Although I know they were not all born the exact same day, it is the anniversary of the day they first came to us. In secret, I made a sweet cream icing, and gave Rudel a taste last night after lights out. His first birthday gift. He looked up at me as he tasted it, and then, he smiled. It broke my heart to leave him, but with every attempt, I risk life and limb. What else can I do? Rudel looks to me now for safety and comfort, so I must afford him my every effort. No one else knows. No one else can ever know.
For their anniversary, Dr. Klausen ordered the children to be placed into the observation room together for the second time. After their first get-together, the children acted oddly, so the Doctor was apprehensive to group them together again. We were all relieved to see that the children behaved much more agreeably. At first, the children crawled around aimlessly, but then, my Rudel stopped in the center of the room, and barked out a harsh, throaty noise. The other children stopped and turned to him. I was so proud. My Rudel is a natural leader. With another sharp growl, Rudel buried his face into the carpet. I lunged forward involuntarily, but Dr. Klausen stopped me. “He’ll be fine,” he said quietly. “Just watch.” Breathless, I stared as Rudel nuzzled the carpet for several moments. Then, he raised his head and arched his back. His face was red and raw, but he stared wide-eyed into the air, confident and wild. The other children cooed in acknowledgement, and then mimicked his actions. I was shocked. Dr. Klausen turned to me and smiled.
“He does his father proud.”
A man came into the facility today. A man from Berlin. He was dressed in a sharp uniform, a high rank within the Party. He did not talk as he walked the halls of the little ones. He did not comment on how much they’ve grown, how they are now taking their first steps, and speaking their first words. No, he made no mention. He wore a scowl upon his face, a look of bitter disappointment. I recognized his expression. My first child wore it before I told him I was to come here. It broke my heart when I looked upon my first child’s face and saw that expression, but when that man wore it, I felt disgust.
He was here to tear apart our family.
Dr. Klausen pulled me to the side before I gave the man a piece of my mind. He told me to remain calm. He said he would handle it. The man walked and walked, taking notes here and there, strutting as though he were a peacock. Finally, he asked to speak with Dr. Klausen and myself in private. The Doctor brought him to his office. The man said the children were speaking German, that the test had been contaminated. He said that when he reported this to Cpt. Mengele, that there would be swift and severe consequences. Dr. Klausen asked the man if he wanted a drink. The man refused. Dr. Klausen pulled a bottle of brandy from his shelf regardless. The man rose, adamant that he wanted none of it.
Then, Dr. Klausen struck him with the bottle.
Glass spilled like drops of rain. The man’s blood shimmered amidst the liquor and the light. It was beautiful. The man toppled to the ground, and for a moment, I thought he was dead. But then, he moaned.
“Sit him in the chair,” my Doctor ordered. I obeyed. Swiftly, Dr. Klausen pulled the man’s bleeding head high into the air. “Bring me a bottle of the children’s medicine,” he called. I moved like a shadow, darting above the broken glass in silence. As I handed the bottle of medicine to the Doctor, he stared into the man’s foggy eyes.
“Did they tell you what this does?” he asked solemnly. He rattled the bottle above the man. Lazily, the man focused his gaze upon it.
“It does so much more than trigger the temporal lobe. It rewrites the entire mind. To the children, their minds were blank; a virgin canvas upon which anything could be drawn…”
Dr. Klausen flicked the lid of the bottle off with his thumb.
“But to a man like you, it would mean the complete disintegration of everything that you are.”
The man opened his mouth to call for help, but my Doctor was far too quick. He rammed the open bottle down the man’s throat, and then plugged his nose. The man shook violently, gasping and bellowing a muffled scream as the pills tumbled down into his stomach. The Doctor firmly held him until he gradually stopped moving. His bulging eyes fell still, resting at last upon the adjacent wall, as a thin trickle of blood began to seep from his nose.
For a long time, the Doctor and I did nothing. Then, he took my hand, and pulled me into his arms.
“Others will come,” he whispered.
“I know,” I said to him.
He pulled me back and kissed me.
This will be my last entry. We have no choice. We must leave this place. Our family will not survive them when they come. The other nurses all agreed that this is the only way. We killed the others as they slept. None of the guards have come to know the little ones as we have. None of them know my little Rudel as I do. I have watched him grow and learn and love. He looks to me now. He will always look to his Mama for protection. When they eventually find this place, there will be nothing left. Nothing but corpses and ashes of what used to be. The Party can have their tests and their war. I want nothing more of it. Dr. Klausen and I and the others will find a new home, and a new life. We will raise these precious little ones in the way they have always deserved.
God help the ones that dare deny us such a life.
End of Journal.