Saturday, June 16, 2012

Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race

On the final day of the IBPCA week of lectures and research, my fellow externs and I visited the U.S. Holocaust Museum. While there, we saw the “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” exhibit and spent a little time in the Wexner Center on the Nuremberg Trials. Unfortunately, there was not enough time on our schedule to see the entire exhibit. I hope to return some day and complete my tour.

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.

Institutions performing these eugenic killings simultaneously took care of other patients to maintain appearances. Victims were initially children (who were usually brought voluntarily by parents who accepted lies about institutions that used the most modern treatments), then adults. Gas was used at first, then overdoses of medications. Eugenics still goes on; we know about India's and China's sex-selection abortion, but what about ours? (The Lozier Institute and Live Action both address this issue.)

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
Dr. Heberer also reminded us of the 400,000 persons forcibly sterilized in the Nazi regime. This is especially poignant given Uzbekistan's forced sterilizations and China's forced abortions.

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!

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