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  • Memory and Representation in Holocaust Cinema

    This course will explore Holocaust memory and representation in American and European cinema. To this end, students will utilize primary and secondary sources, including history, film, art, and philosophy. The films viewed for this course include Night and Fog (1955), Forgiving Dr. Mengele (2006), Schindler’s List (1993), Life is Beautiful (1997), Mr. Death (1999), Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Radical Evil (2013), and Inglourious Basterds (2009). Other films may be utilized to enhance students’ learning experience.

  • Curriculum for the Holocaust: Lessons for Medicine

    Using their experience as a physician and a historian, Profs. Esteban González-López and Rosa Rios have taught Spanish medical students about medicine and the Holocaust for many years. Their innovative course, which includes visits to European medical sites relevant to the Holocaust, is a model for those who wish to teach this material at their institution. The curriculum includes an extensive bibliography of books and papers as well as testimonies, casebooks, websites, and a filmography. Their curriculum, along with those posted on CMATH’s website by Sabine Hildebrandt, Ashley Fernandes, David Brenner, Stacy Gallin, and Sheldon Rubenfeld, are excellent resources for educators.

  • The Holocaust, Medicine, and Becoming a Physician: The Crucial Role of Education

    Reis SP, Wald HS, Weindling P. The Holocaust, medicine and becoming a physician: the crucial role of education. Isr J Health Policy Res. 2019 Jun 27;8(1):55. doi: 10.1186/s13584-019-0327-3. PMID: 31248455; PMCID: PMC6595548. Abstract Learning about the abandonment of moral principles of healthcare professionals and scientists, their societies and academic institutions, to a murderous ideology yields fundamental concerns and global implications for present and future healthcare professionals’ education and practice. Medicine’s worst-case scenario raises deeply disturbing yet essential questions in the here and now: Could the Holocaust, one of the greatest evils ever perpetrated on humankind, have occurred without the complicity of physicians, their societies, and the scientific profession community? How did healers become killers? Can it happen again?...

  • Academic Medicine During the Nazi Period and Implications for Today | Prof. Dr. Volker Roelcke

    Prof. Dr. Roelcke, Chair and Director of the Institute for the History of Medicine at the University of Giessen in Germany, is an expert in medicine and the Holocaust, particularly as it relates to psychiatry. He describes the rationale and behavior of influential academic physicians during the Third Reich as well as the response of academic medicine to the revelations of Nazi medical crimes. German academic physicians promoted eugenics, or racial hygiene as it was known in Germany, for decades before Hitler came to power. They promoted contributions to the Volkskörper by the “fit” and segregating or eliminating those who appeared to endanger the health of the race, understood as a collective organism. Hitler adopted these eugenic ideas with murderous results. Myths have been developed to protect academic medicine from a careful examination of the role of physicians in designing and implementing the Holocaust. For example, one myth is that the medical atrocities were committed by a few fervent Nazi doctors as a result of irrational ideologies imposed from above by Nazi politicians on apolitical physicians. While this myth may be comforting, all parts of it are untrue. Dr. William Seidelman also addresses the responsibilities of academic medicine. Prof. Dr. Roelcke’s essay on this topic can be found in Medicine after the Holocaust: From the Master Race to the Human Genome and Beyond, and his personal story about his advocacy for study medicine and the Holocaust and about his Nazi physician father can be found in Human Subjects Research after the Holocaust. Watch here: 🎧 Audio Only:

  • To Study History or Not to Study History. That is the Question.

    Few Top Schools Require History Majors to Broadly Study U.S.’s Past This article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal on June 30, 2016. Group says niche classes, like ‘Baseball in U.S. History,’ don’t cut it. At the University of Pennsylvania, students must take a course in four of five geographic areas. In theory, students could avoid the U.S. and Canada, but spokesman Ron Ozio said, “In practice, that almost never occurs.” PHOTO: TOM MIHALEK/EUROPEAN By MELISSA KORN June 29, 2016 6:14 p.m. ET History majors at top colleges don’t know much about U.S. history—or at least they don’t have to. A new report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a nonprofit group that advocates for accountability at schools, found that just 23 of the institutions among the 76 deemed to be the “best” by U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 rankings require history majors to take at least one U.S. history course. Many elite schools, including Rice University and Johns Hopkins University, may require students to take courses about events from before 1750, or on East Asian and sub-Saharan African politics, without also demanding that they study the creation of the U.S. Constitution or the civil-rights movement. The association said in its report that the absence of mandates that history majors take U.S. history classes with chronological and thematic breadth is “a truly breathtaking abandonment of intellectual standards and professional judgment.” Students who make it to the top universities generally have taken U.S. history classes in high school. But Michael Poliakoff, president-elect of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, said that doesn’t mean they have a solid understanding of the country’s founding principles or major social movements. The group found in a 2014 survey that a majority of U.S. college graduates don’t know the length of a congressional term or what the Emancipation Proclamation was. Bill North, chairman of the history department at Carleton College, said the school doesn’t require history majors to take any U.S. history courses, in part because “we are committed to the idea that all histories are important and valuable in the cultivation of a robust civic consciousness.” He added that many students already performed well on the Advanced Placement U.S. history exam. At the University of Pennsylvania, students must take a course in four of five geographic areas, including the U.S. and Canada. And while, in theory, students could avoid that region, spokesman Ron Ozio said, “In practice, that almost never occurs.”The council said many courses tagged as U.S. history still leave students short of a thorough understanding of the country’s past. Penn history students who pursue an American history concentration within the major can take classes including “Baseball in U.S. History,” while those at the University of Texas at Austin can partially fulfill their American history requirement by signing up for “Jews in American Entertainment.” A representative from Texas wasn’t immediately available for comment. “Niche classes are not going to prepare students for engaged citizenship,” Dr. Poliakoff said, adding that requiring that students take courses on broad slices of American history is “a question of academic responsibility.”

  • Clinical Genetics vs. Eugenics

    How can we move from the horrors of the Eugenics movement to today’s notion of “clinical genetics.” This article discusses the supposed advances in the area of genetics with a careful eye on the past failures of the Eugenics movement.

  • Human Biodiversity and Eugenics

    The Forward just published an article by Ari Feldman entitled Human Biodiversity: the Pseudoscientific Racism of the Alt-Right: “Human biodiversity” appropriates scientific authority by posing as an empirical, rational discourse on the genetically proven physical and mental variation between humans. It uses the language of genetics to underscore, for example, the prevalence of Mongolians in sumo wrestling, the IQ scores of black people or the inbreeding patterns of Ashkenazi Jews. The refrain of HBD bloggers and forum commenters is that the (gene-driven, according to them) dissimilarities they outline are “non-negligible” or “non-trivial” and have, accordingly, social policy implications. Though it has a rational, policy-wonk zing to it, that’s just Internet forum-ese for “you’re genetically distinct from us and should be treated differently.” Feldman goes on to say that “Recently, the conservative “journalist” Milo Yiannopoulos boosted awareness of the HBD proponents when he name-checked a couple of HBD gurus in his article “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right.” He brought the term human biodiversity — coined by Steve Sailer in the mid-90s — to a wider audience. Sailer, a blogger for several conservative websites with racial preoccupations, including Taki’s Magazine, the Unz Review and, has said of human biodiversity (in an interview with the H.L. Mencken Club, one of 40 hate groups in Pennsylvania) that it’s both a field of study and a political movement, because it has to “fight for its right to exist.”

  • Harvard's Eugenics Era

    Adam Cohen ’84, J.D. ’87, the author of the article is also the author of Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck. I heartily recommend his article and book to anyone interested in learning more about American eugenics, which provided moral, legal, and philanthropic models for Nazi eugenics. While “eugenics” lost favor after the revelations of the Nuremberg Doctors Trial in 1947, “It did not, however, entirely fade away—at the University, or nationally” according to Cohen. He goes on to say, “Today, the American eugenics movement is often thought of as an episode of national folly—like 1920s dance marathons or Prohibition—with little harm done. In fact, the harm it caused was enormous.”

  • 70th Anniversary of the Doctors' Trial - History of Nuremberg Code

    This article discusses the Nazi Euthanasia program, as well as abuses in medical experiments including the use of “decompression chambers, iatrogenic wounds and infections to test antibiotics, hypothermia, seawater infusions, and starvation” with fatal results for subjects. The subsequent Doctors’ Trial, set up to prosecute members of the medical profession for these heinous acts, is instructive for physicians today. Raul Artal, MD, Professor and Chair Emeritus, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, and Sheldon Rubenfeld, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine argue that we must remain ever vigilant in order to detect the repetition of history and to safeguard medical ethics today.

  • Germany Grapples with Its African Genocide

    The New York Times today published a good article about Germany’s treatment of native Africans in the first part of the twentieth century and labels it the “twentieth century’s first genocide.” The article omits any mention of Dr. Eugen Fischer who did the original field research on the offspring of German men and native African women. He recommended that the descendants of these mixed marriages should not be permitted to reproduce, leading to a ban in 1912 of interracial marriages in German colonies. In 1921 Fischer, Erwin Baur, and Fritz Lenz published “Menschliche Erblichkeitslehre und Rassenhygiene,” an influential text book about eugenics and genetics that Hitler read while imprisoned in 1924 in Landsberg. In 1927 Fischer became the founding Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics. More importantly, his eugenic ideas influenced Nazi public health policies on sterilization, marriage, and euthanasia.

  • Max Planck Institute Desire to Take Moral Responsibility for its Unethical Research

    Summarizing a significant development in human subjects research, Science reported today that the Max Planck Institute, known as the The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute during the Third Reich, appears willing to take responsibility for its unethical research on victims of the Nazi euthanasia programs. The Institute will shortly open its archives to four independent researchers, Volker Roelcke, Paul Weindling, Gerrit Hohendorf, and Patricia Heberer, who will “scour its archives and tissue sample collections for material related to the euthanasia program.” Researchers had uncovered evidence of the unethical research over the past 35 years that resulted in an apology from the Max Planck Institute in 2001 to victims of the euthanasia program. Nonetheless, it appeared that the investigation would remain unfinished until the grim discovery in 2015 of new brain specimens from victims of Nazi euthanasia programs prompted this three-year commitment from the Institute to search for “any remaining specimens and link them to clinical records” from the Nazi era.

  • Force Feeding Prisoners

    The treatment of prisoners during the Holocaust violated all conventions of human behavior. Prisoners were starved, beaten, used in experiments, randomly shot, worked to death, and many were ultimately gassed and cremated. Political hunger strikes raise many issues for governments, physicians, prisoners and the groups that support the prisoners. A recent article in the Times of Israel enumerates the nature and the complexity of these issues for contemporary medicine. If only Nazi physicians had paid attention to the welfare of their “prisoner patients.”

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