Danish Orphans Used in Secret Basement Experiments Backed by CIA, Documentary Claims


Sputnik: During experiments meant to reveal psychopathic traits and map out the link between schizophrenia and heredity, children had electrodes put on their body and had to listen to loud, shrill noises. According to experts, this violates the Nuremberg Code of 1947 that introduced ethical restrictions for experiments on humans.

Several hundred Danish orphans have been unknowingly used in experiments backed by the CIA, Danish Radio has reported in a new documentary called “The Search for Myself”.

Overall, the studies, beginning in the early 1960s and meant to investigate a link between heredity and environment in the development of schizophrenia, involved 311 Danish children. The examinations took place in a basement at the Municipal Hospital in Copenhagen.

Many were adopted or lived in nearby orphanages,
Filmmaker Per Wennick, who participated in these experiments as a child, recalls being placed in a chair, getting electrodes put on his arms, legs, and chest around the heart and having to listen to loud, shrill noises. The test was meant to reveal whether a child had psychopathic traits.

“It was very uncomfortable”, Wennick told Danish Radio. “And it’s not just my story, it’s the story of many children”. By his own admission, he was promised “something funny” before being taken to hospital. “I think this is a violation of my rights as a citizen in this society. I find it so strange that some people should know more about me than I myself have been aware of”.

According to Wennick and the National Archives, the research project was co-financed by the US health service. In the first year alone, the project was supported with what today corresponds to DKK 4.6 million ($700,000). Furthermore, it received funding from the Human Ecology Fund, operated on behalf of the CIA.

In 1977, the experiment resulted in a doctoral dissertation by Danish psychiatrist Fini Schulsinger called “Studies to shed light on the connection between heredity and environment in psychiatry”.

Per Wennick, he managed to locate the research material in 36 boxes at the Psychiatric Centre Glostrup in Hvidovre, but the centre had already started to shred the data, sparking criticism.
Kent Kristensen, associate professor of Health Law at the University of Southern Denmark, ventured that shredding in this case constitutes a violation of the law. Historian Jacob Knage Rasmussen emphasised that it deprived the victims of reclaiming their past.


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  1. Those involved should be hunted down and prosecuted despite statute of limitations, and not just those doing the hands on work, but all those involved in the project, loss of pensions and benefits if they have any, and let them enjoy a taste of their own medicine.

    • Crimes against children are monstrous. I would give a life sentence to all participants in this crime. With unbearable conditions in a maximum security prison.

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