Medicine and the Holocaust

Introduction

            This site, created by Andrew Vialpando, Joseph Chapel, David Lachman, and Brianne Rosenthal, provides reviews of several books and websites that examine the topic of Nazi doctors and experiments during Hitler’s time. These sources discuss the historical, psychological and ethical aspects that surround the shocking medical practices of these doctors. This site also considers other parallels to this type of devious medical credo, such as the Tuskegee experiments in the United Stated of America. The presentation of this site is devised by subtopics that elucidate major themes and facets using book and website reviews as well as pictures and links to relevant websites.

            During Hitler’s fascist Third Reich, the Nazis annihilated approximately 11 million innocent Europeans, including 6 million Jews. The word “Holocaust” and the term “genocide” trigger images in our minds of ghettos, starvation, firing squads, mass graves, gas chambers and crematoria. But what of the hundreds of innocent human beings that suffered cruel treatment at the hands of Nazi doctors? These medical victims are often forgotten, or otherwise disregarded. While the majority of our society acknowledges the atrocious and heartbreaking nature of the Holocaust, we often undermine extremely significant occurrences, such as these insane Nazi “medical” experiments, with the overwhelming notion of “6 million Jews killed” or “11 million killed”. What we rarely recollect are these victims, and the grotesque details of Nazi medical experiments performed on them: the eyeball injections, the pressure chambers, the sterilizations, the extreme-cold endurance tests, the futile and often frivolous dissections, the castrations. Only by examining this matter, as well as other dark and unseen chapters of the Holocaust, can we can begin to rightly fathom the sadistic ideologies of the Nazis.

            The Nazi physicians and the experiments they performed on their subjects were motivated not by a genuine concern and desire to improve the welfare of society, but rather by the egocentric improvement of the Aryan race and by delusions of scientific advancement. In the process, these doctors deliberately harmed innocent people as opposed to curing them, ironically negating their ethical duties and trivializing their Hippocratic oaths. Hence, these supposed helpers not only killed, often intentionally, but also animalized and deceived their subjects.

The aspects of medicine and the Holocaust that we researched were: the euthansia institutions, medical experimentation on humans, Dr. Josef Mengele, and the 1932-1972 Tuskegee syphilis study in the United States.


The Oath of Hippocrates:

            The Oath of Hippocrates (more commonly known as the Hippocratic Oath) is the oath (or promise) that all doctors take prior to becoming a doctor.  It consists of promising that one will only use their power to help those in need and that no matter what, under no circumstances, will a doctor use his or her power in a malignant way or with the intention of purposing hurting someone else.  This quote proves ironic to the Nazi doctors who broke it many times with every euthanasia camp built, or every medicine ever tested on patients, or every experiment carried on to the patients.  American doctors also broke this sacred promise by carrying out the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment. 

            I swear by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius, by Health, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture....I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrongdoing. I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. In whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrongdoing and harm....Now if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain forever reputation among all men for my life and for my art; but if I transgress it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me.