NewsThe Nuremberg Doctors' Trial

The Nuremberg Doctors' Trial

Created: 10/21/2022, 5:17 p.m

What is still going on 75 years later.

You know the Christmas market from Nuremberg. You know the Nuremberg gingerbread and the Nuremberg sausages. Nuremberg is Dürerstadt. Nuremberg is a university city. And then there is the Nazi Party Rally Grounds. From 1934 onwards, the National Socialists held the “Reich Party Rallies of the German People” there year after year. They lasted a week, began with Richard Wagner’s “Meistersinger von Nürnberg” and were a fanatical, religion-like homage to Adolf Hitler – up to 500,000 people cheered the Führer. This is the reason why the Allies constituted the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg in August 1945.

After the first war crimes trial, which lasted until September 1946, there were twelve follow-up trials over the next three years against lawyers, industrialists – including Krupp, Flick and IG Farben – against those responsible for racial and settlement policy and the Foreign Office and the military leadership. One of them was the Doctors’ Trial in Nuremberg in December 1946. The 23 defendants were accused of the most serious crimes against humanity: forced sterilization, hypothermia and negative pressure to the point of death, infection with typhus or hepatitis, setting phlegmon, exposure to war gases such as mustard or phosgene, the killings for skeleton collections and “race research”, the systematic euthanasia programs or participation in the “eradication” of unwanted parts of the “national body”.

The trial ended in August 1947 with seven death sentences, nine prison sentences ranging from ten years to life – and seven acquittals.

The Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial is associated with two names in particular: Alexander Mitscherlich and Alice Ricciardi-von Platen. In 1946, Alexander Mitscherlich was commissioned by the medical associations of the western zones to observe the doctors’ trial in Nuremberg. The intention behind this was that his report should absolve the German medical profession of collective guilt. However, when he reported the exact opposite in the brochure “The Dictation of Human Contempt” from 1947 and documented systematic crimes that went far beyond the misdeeds of individual people and the followers of the entire German medical profession, almost all of the 25,000 brochures disappeared miraculously. Mitscherlich was massively attacked and defamed by the rehabilitated old Nazis of the German medical ordinaries and remained ostracized within conventional medicine until his death in 1982.

Alice Ricciardi-von Platen belonged to Mitscherlich’s observer commission. It focused on the programs of extermination of the “mentally ill”. She stated that the entire psychiatric system was criminal, something that the entire German medical profession had known about. Of the 3,000 copies of her publication on “The Killing of the Mentally Ill in Germany”, miraculously only 20 copies made it into circulation.

In the course of the pronouncement of judgment on August 20, 1947, the court also formulated the “Nuremberg Code”, a binding and generally applicable ethical guideline for experiments with and on humans. For the Nuremberg regional group of the then already global IPPNW, the association of doctors who campaign against nuclear war and for social responsibility, the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of this Nuremberg Codex was the occasion for the first “Medicine and Conscience” conference of the year 1996, which has been held every five years since, for the sixth time this weekend.

25 years after the first conference, today the focus is on the current threat to health and the well-being of patients when the “value of life is measured against possible economic value creation”. The focus is on man-made climate change, “it goes hand in hand with a global threat to an environment worth living in and immense negative health and social effects”. In addition to the Nuremberg Code, the lectures and working groups will therefore also deal with climate and war, health as a human right, global health, Hippocrates for Sale, evidence and ethics of the pandemic.

At this year’s conference, the doctors will again look for lessons from the past and perspectives for a better future:

dr medical Bernd Hontschik is

Surgeon and publicist:

His book “Heile und rule! – A health policy tragedy, Westend Verlag. PHOTO: UTE SCHENDEL

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