“First, Do No Harm: Medical Science, Ethics and the Holocaust” Conference Schedule
Free and Open to the Public.
You are welcome to attend any of the lectures, please join us!
Opening Remarks – Acting President Allan Belton
7:00 p.m. - Video: “Caring Corrupted: The Killing Nurses of the Third Reich” (Chris Knutzen Hall, AUC 214)
``Lessons From Nazi Germany for Today’s Healthcare Providers``
Video produced by University of Texas Health School of Nursing
The relevance of the role of healthcare providers in the events in Nazi Germany to today’s healthcare providers will be discussed. The journey of a school of nursing in making a film about nurses in Nazi Germany as well as of the use of the film in nursing education is explored.
Commentator and Presenter:
8:30 p.m. Refreshments in the Scandinavian Center Lobby
9:00 a.m. – Registration (Regency Room Lobby, Anderson University Center)
10:00 a.m. - 11:40 a.m. – (Chris Knutzen Hall, AUC 214)
“The Torturous Killing of Anna Maria Buller – the Role of Nurses in the Killing of Sick Persons Under the Nazi Regime” – Thomas Foth
During the Nazi regime (1931-1945) more than 300,000 psychiatric patients were killed. The well-calculated killing of chronically mentally ‘ill’ patients was part of a huge biopolitical program of well-established scientific, eugenic standards of the time. Among the medical personnel implicated in these assassinations were nurses, who carried out this program through their everyday practice. Using a case study approach, the activities of nurses at the Hamburg psychiatric asylum Langenhorn will be detailed in an attempt to understand how they were involved in killing their patients.
“Memories of Gusen: U.S Army Nurses’ Reflections on Witnessing the Liberation of a Concentration Camp” – Ms. Carli Snyder
This paper focuses on the testimonies of nine retired U.S. Army nurses who served during the liberation of Gusen concentration camp, a satellite camp of Mauthausen, near Linz, Austria. These interviews were conducted in 1995 by a radio journalist, Neenah Ellis, for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Oral History Department. Through the testimonies, we learn about a group of American women’s experiences of witnessing the Holocaust’s aftermath, the perceived lessons of the Holocaust in the 1990s, and the process of collecting Holocaust oral history.
11:45 a.m. - 1:35 p.m. – Mayer Summer Research Fellow Presentations (Room 133, AUC)
Mayer Summer Research Fellows will offer brief overviews of their summer research projects as the conference participants enjoy box lunches.
Kurt Mayer Summer Research Fellows:
- Jessica Alley, Abigail Kunkel, Christian Riddall, Alicia Sprague
1:45 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. – (Chris Knutzen Hall, AUC 214)
“Routine Pharmacological Procedures Against Women in Auschwitz: An Unspoken Narrative” – Peggy Kleinplatz
The history of routine pharmacological interventions affecting women’s fertility during the Shoah and thereafter has been hidden in plain sight. It is past time to assemble the fragments of this unrecognized phenomenon and begin to give expression to a cohesive narrative. Kleinplatz is working with Dr. Paul Weindling to give voice to these women’s histories.
“Manipulating Birth to Implement Genocide” – Beverley Chalmers
Holocaust literature gives exhaustive attention to ‘direct’ means of exterminating Jews, by using gas chambers, torture, starvation, disease, and intolerable conditions in ghettos and camps, and by the Einsatzgruppen. Manipulating reproduction and sexuality –as a less ‘direct,’ method of genocide of Jews – has not yet received the same attention. The Nazis prevented Jewish women from having sex or bearing children through legal, social, psychological and biological means, as well as by murder. In contrast, they promoted reproductive life and sexuality among so-called ‘Aryans’. Implementing measures to prevent birth is a core feature of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Doctors were integrally involved in the manipulation of birth. This presentation reveals a specter of brutality that is not often recognized, and is contrary to the traditional image of the ‘helping profession’ of medicine, and particularly, reproductive medicine. It is based on the multiple-award winning book: Birth Sex and Abuse: Women’s Voices under Nazi Rule (2015).
“Mengele at Auschwitz: Reconstructing the Twins” – Paul Weindling
The twins researched on by Mengele are an iconic group among the ca. 30000 victims of Nazi medical experiments and coerced research. There remain open questions regarding Mengele’s research practices, how the twin and dwarf research was resourced in relation to SS administrative structures, and timing in relation to Mengele’s role as doctor to the Zigeunerlager and his role in genocidal selections on the ramp at Auschwitz. These issues shape the twins’ identities, numbers, retention of parents, and experiences between survival and death from experimental interventions. This paper develops evidence from the CANDLES twin survivor organization, as well as key prisoner testimonies such as from the pathologist Nyiszli by linking survivor narratives with administrative documents.
Issues include Mengele’s resourcing of prisoner-research staff, particularly the pathology laboratory, as well as relations with the Raisko Hygiene Institute of the Waffen-SS. Further issues include the supply of body parts from Auschwitz, including blood, bones and hetero-chromic eyes to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology. Mengele’s prisoner assistants included a range of medical specialists, as well as artists and anthropologists. The documentation needs to be set against the extensive narratives of the surviving twins. Wider issues include Mengele’s academic links as well as evidence for how his research was supported. This paper offers an attempt to integrate these diverse approaches. Finally, the post-war history of delayed and reduced compensation for the twins needs to be figured in.
3:45 p.m. - 5 p.m. – (Chris Knutzen Hall, AUC 214)
“Doctors Ensnared between Hitler and Stalin: German Medical Scientists in the USSR” – David Zimmerman
Beginning in April 1933, university faculty were among the first victims of Nazi persecution. They were dismissed from their post for racial and political reasons. Compared to other academics, medical researchers had a difficult time trying to escape from Germany in 1930s. In this talk I will examine the particular issues faced by medical doctors in finding refuge in the western world, and explore why a few decided to make the perilous decision to migrate to the Soviet Union. The talk will focus on the stories of two of these doctors, Siegfried Gilde, and Kurt Zinneman, both of whom were arrested by the Soviet secret police during Stalin’s Great Purge. Their stories illustrate the desperate and, often futile efforts German Jews made to try to save themselves and their families.
“’Russian’ Victims of Nazi Medicine – Moving from Lists to Biographies” – Nichola Farron
This presentation will provide an overview of the use of Soviet prisoners in Nazi human experiments and coerced research, and will provide details of experiments in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps where ‘Russian’ prisoners were exposed to the ambition of German scientists engaged in unethical research practices. Drawing on the archival material, the details and motives of these experiments will be outlined, along with the potential and importance of naming Soviet victims. Used in a range of high-profile and infamous experiments at the camps, including high-altitude and freezing testing, ‘Russian’ prisoners nonetheless remain one of the most under-researched groups of victims: this presentation will explore some of the historical problems around this research-gap whilst highlighting the potential to move forward and understand this important history.
5:00 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. – Dinner Break (Scandinavian Center, AUC)
For those that have pre-registered, a reception with light fare will be in the Scandinavian Cultural Center
7 p.m. – Keynote Speaker: Dr. Sabine Hildebrandt, M.D. (Chris Knutzen Hall, AUC 214)
“Anatomy in National Socialist (Nazi) Germany – Politics, Science, Ethics and Legacies”
In this talk, the history of the interaction between anatomists and politics in Nazi Germany will be presented, as well as the changes in the traditional anatomical body procurement during that time, which included rising numbers of victims of the Nazi regime. The use of these victims’ bodies in anatomical education and research can be interpreted as stages of an ethical transgression. The legacies from this history for today’s medicine will be discussed.
- Sabine Hildebrandt, M.D.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics; Lecturer on Global Health and Social Medicine
Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School,
Div. General Pediatrics, Dep. Medicine
8:15 p.m. – Dessert Reception (Chris Knutzen Hall Lobby)
8:30 a.m. – Registration (Regency Room Lobby, Anderson University Center)
9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. – (Chris Knutzen Hall, AUC 214)
“Medical Science, Ethics and Saving Lives” – Naomi Baumslag
Jewish doctors worked under conditions of extreme personal danger and cruelty during the Holocaust. There is evidence that despite orders for the calculated, callous extermination of lives in the name of science, ethical physicians such as Ludvik Fleck, Moses Brauns and Adina Szwajger improvised to work around their constraints in order to save lives.
“Women Prisoner-Doctors in Auschwitz” – Claude Romney
10:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. – (Chris Knutzen Hall, AUC 214)
“For Health, for Profit, for Nothing at All?: Jewish Physicians in the Warthegau Forced Labor Camps for Jews, 1940-1943” – Sari J. Siegel, Ph.D.
This presentation addresses the recruitment of Jewish doctors for medical work in the little-known forced labor camps for Jews in the Warthegau—a region annexed to the Third Reich from western Poland. Through the consideration of the multiple parties (e.g., municipal, regional, and federal government officials and businessmen in public and private industries) that sought to harness the expertise of Jewish medical professionals and the motivations behind their respective efforts, new findings come to light and greater insight into the mechanics of exploitation and mass murder emerges.
“Legacy of the Nuremberg Code: 70th Anniversary” – Susan Miller
The goals of this presentation are to review the origins of the Nuremberg Code and to explore the historical and current day relevance of the Code for medical science, investigators, institutions and research subjects.
12:30 - 2:00 p.m. – (Chris Knutzen Hall, AUC 214)
“250+ letters from Dachau: A Journey of Words, though Rarely Spoken” – Clarice Wilsey
Clarice Wilsey’s father, Captain David Wilsey, M.D., was an American army physician who treated survivors of Dachau Concentration Camp after liberation. He and several dozen other medical staff stayed at Dachau with thousands of former prisoners under quarantine, in order to bring some healing to the survivors. Dr. Wilsey’s letters from Dachau to his wife back home survived, and after Clarice found them in 2009, inspired her to share her father’s experiences with students and others as a member of the Holocaust Center for Humanity Speakers Bureau.