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HGS 529/729 Nazi Medicine and the Holocaust

The medical crimes of the National Socialist regime in Germany have often been presented as being committed by outlier physicians who worked in isolation from the mainstream of the German medicine. However, foundational scholarship by Henry Friedlander and Paul Weindling has demonstrated that medical practitioners in Nazi Germany were central to the regime’s racist goals of “racial hygiene”.

This course examines Nazi racial policies that were enacted in 1933 (the Sterilization Law) and follows the trajectory to the T4 euthanasia program to medical experiments in the concentration camp system. As a precursor to the Holocaust, the T4 program demonstrated that medical practitioners could be enlisted to take part in the murder other human beings thereby breaking with ethical mandate to do no harm. The course also covers the quest for justice as well as the reverberations of Nazi medicine in a contemporary context and how medical ethics continue to be shaped by the Nazi medicine and the Holocaust.

This course is taught from an interdisciplinary perspective utilizing historical, medical, sociological and oral history sources

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