We also had a special presentation on medical ethics by Dr. Patricia Heberer (some audio clips of her here). As is well known, The Nazis carried out experiments on eight to ten thousand involuntary human subjects. According to Dr. Heberer, these studies were often not soundly conducted and frequently were testing racist hypotheses (she gave an example of an attempt to prove that Aryan immune systems were better than French ones, which were better than Slavic ones, and so on down the supposed racial hierarchy).
(Disclaimer: my memory is imperfect and I didn't take notes, so this next paragraph might be numerically less-than-perfect. Any mistakes are mine, not our historian's.)
However, Dr. Heberer also informed us of the Nazis less well-known euthanizing activities, which began in 1930 as a centralized effort and expanded in 1932 to eighty clinics across the Third Reich. In the initial, centralized effort, hospital personnel were at fired and a new (Nazi-sympathetic) staff was hired; however, as the evil spread doctors and nurses were sworn to secrecy and conscripted to help with the execution of 200,000 persons, on the order of twenty per day, according to Dr. Heberer. The mentally disabled are still targets of termination, as 92% of individuals affected with Down Syndrome are aborted.
It was difficult for nurses to escape these hospitals. Most were male (in mental institutions before sedatives), so some chose to volunteer for the Russian front rather than cooperate in the killings. Others took the more difficult night shift, since the evening shift was when most deaths occurred. Are nurses able to escape orders that violate their consciences now?
|The Doctor's Trial|
Sorry for the battery of current events. As I walked through the museum and gravely took in the propaganda and agendas of the Nazi party, my horror for the horrible things of my own time grew. I noticed in the Wexner Center that the Nuremberg trials were a novel thing, an international attempt to address an unprecedented crime against humanity. When our world gains an ability to regret the last fifty years, how will a just trial be possible? We will need fifty Nurembergs!