The Issue Of The Medical Profession

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One of the most perplexing aspects of the Shoah is the extent to which ordinary citizens participated in its execution. Particularly shocking is the degree of participation by the medical community, considering that doctors are specifically trained to do no harm. Nonetheless, hundreds of doctors contributed directly to Nazi cruelties, while thousands more acquiesced in passive silence. This raises troubling questions, such as how much responsibility the medical community ought to bear for the Shoah and the events that preceded it, and why so many physicians were willing to perform these cruel acts. I argue that the German medical profession played an indispensable role in both the causation and implementation of the mass atrocities…show more content…
Before proceeding, it is worth pausing to articulate why the German medical profession as a whole is being held accountable in this paper rather than only those physicians that personally carried out acts of murder or experimentation. While it has been estimated that about 350 German physicians committed medical crimes, that figure does not include the countless others that had lesser degrees of involvement. For example, it says nothing of the thousands of doctors that accepted the murder of Germany’s ill as necessary for its national health (Kater xiii). Had the profession as a whole protested such conduct at an early stage, both the methods of mass killing developed for this purpose and the ideology that individual rights may be sacrificed to national interests may never have taken hold (Baumslag xxviii). Thus, while the doctors who actually committed atrocities hold more responsibility than the rest, the thousands who facilitated or benefited from such acts must also be held accountable. Long before atrocities were being committed in Nazi Germany, the medical profession was already playing a critical role in enabling them through its development and support of
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