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The Nazi doctors and the medical community; Honor or censure? The case of Hans Sewering

“Nothing is darker or more menacing, or harder to accept, than the participation of physicians in mass murder ... He or she is still supposed to be a healer—and one responsive to a tradition of healing, which all cultures revere and depend upon.” Robert Jay Lifton, The Nazi Doctors

Abstract

During the Nazi era, most German physicians abrogated their responsibilities to individual patients, and instead chose to advocate the interests of an evil regime. In so doing, several fundamental bioethical principles were violated. Despite gross violations of individual rights, many physicians went on to have successful careers, and in many cases were honored. This paper will review the case of Hans Sewering, a participant in the Nazi euthanasia program who became the President-elect of the World Medical Association. The appropriate stance for the medical and scientific community toward those who violate human rights and ignore fundamental ethical principles of the healing professions will be considered.

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White, L.W. The Nazi doctors and the medical community; Honor or censure? The case of Hans Sewering. J Med Hum 17, 119–135 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02276813

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Keywords

  • Healing Profession
  • Scientific Community
  • Medical Association
  • Medical Community
  • Ethical Principle