Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Medical Science Under Dictatorship
Dr Leo Alexander traces the origin of the concentration camp to the German medical community whose professional association advocated for the sterilization/euthanasia of mentally ill or physically disabled persons. This movement emerges and gains consensus among physicians before the Nazis come to power and, through this, the medical profession offers their consent to Hitler’s extermination plan. The consequences of this move are disturbing as the original orders to kill German citizens corresponded to the direct petitions of the medical community. This sets in motion the programs that will later be used to murder men and women in the millions and the Jews were specifically targeted. Perhaps the most important element of this paper was that Hitler’s extermination plan was set in place through the ‘compassion’ of the medical community. The end of the article examines the role of eugenics in American society leading up to World War II. If you only read one article on this page, please read “Medical Science Under Dictatorship” which was first published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1949.