The Original of this may be found here:
Civilized peoples intuitively extend compassion to other living beings. Civilized peoples accept the responsibility to keep all of the community safe from disease, predators and hunger.. This demonstrably includes the children, the elderly and the less abled; even the stupid or venal. Mature and civilized societies, no matter material achievements remain respectful of the mysteries of life and the entire planet.. They don’t get lost in smugness. Civilized societies promote community and don’t celebrate alienation through jingoism or promotion of divisions. Civilized societies don’t promote cruelty, no matter the target.
I have always held an interest in social issues, history and politics. In the late 1990s. When I began this particular treatise I was struggling with the ethical challenges presented by the intrusion of corporate interests into the patient physician interface.
The following is mostly information and commentary from the perspective of a bedside physician, clinical researcher in cancer and psychiatrist (Yes; to those only reading this page. I did both.) Much of it is personal observations; informed by personal experience and the work of others whom I trust. It is not a comprehensive review of the literature necessary for a truly scholarly presentation.. I provide some of the seminal sources and some less recognized that I believe to be good beginning points for one interested in going forward.
As the environment in which to practice medicine evolved my attention and concern was aroused by the concentration of many powers in supra-national business interests. I also became fearful of the rise to political power by the coalition of political movements with roots in the reconstructionist movement of the John Birch Society, the radical Rand style "libertarian" and various evangelical Christian political ideologies.
Noting the incorporation of these really mystical ideologies, business and religious, into government processes led to my revisiting the history of the rise of fascism in 20th Century Europe. I was expecting to find characters from Metropolis malignantly manipulating a naive’ intelligentsia and an innocent "volk."
What I found was horrifying. I discovered the academic intelligentsia and the professions, in particular the doctors, were represented in the highest percentage within the Nazi Party. .Having always believed in the power of the Hippocratic tradition I was stunned.
Into the years of my childhood any physician in the world expecting to be accepted as optimally educated was compelled to have some training in the medical universities of Germany and or Austria.. They were at the center of medical research and innovation well into the 20th Century. Indeed classes in German language were highly recommended for my college pre-medical course. This was because so many of the major primary sources of medical research were written in the language.
Especially in Germany, no group was more esteemed than the academics, the philosophers and the doctors.
It was the German doctors, not fringe "quacks," but the academic establishment, who led the way to the philosophic and claimed scientific rationale for so called "racial hygiene" policies. The doctors came also to participate directly as perpetrators of torture and murder. "The needle belongs in the hand of the doctor." — Viktor Brack.
The horror of the atrocities committed by such gifted and "cultured" individuals is shattering. More horrifying is the ease with which I can understand how it came about. I do not believe the Holocaust could have occurred without the collaboration of the doctors.
We ponder the universal question; "How could it happen"?
Following the ending of World War I punitive reparations and annexing of land were imposed on Germany. This was accompanied and followed by great political and economic upheaval. Shame and humiliation; the literature is replete with accounts. To mention two Austrians, Freud became deeply depressed and developed his, to be abandoned later, Death Wish theories. Adolph Hitler described his profoundly personal experiences of the mortification in all of the Germanic peoples. Two men struggling with similar emotions.
It surely cannot be surprising that there was a thirst for order, an organizing view of mankind that could repair the crushed spirits among a people suffering with the loss of an entire generation of young men and the physical devastations in war.( I voted for Richard Nixon because he appeared strong and competent.)
In Germany of the thirties an articulate ruler with a reparative philosophy and the absolute power to apply it was longed for. The doctors provided the reparative philosophy and the judges provided the articulate Hitler the power to apply it.
At that time the German people had universal access to medical care by way of a half century of national insurance. A warning sign, to my eye, is that the elite of the physicians were increasingly found in the academic centers. Direct care regressed to the responsibility of significantly less educated and sophisticated practitioners. There are references to the encouragement of "volk medicine." Many of the more educated and sophisticated physicians left the bedside. Many of those who did not were Jews who had lost any meaningful access to academia.
This pseudo-scientific philosophy was eugenics, which arranges races in a hierarchy according to "worth," the "Nordic" at the highest level and thus most entitled. Failures in war and its consequences were the result of contamination (disease) of the racial stock. The German academic medical establishment enthusiastically embraced, indeed from the very beginning contributed to, development of the theories and the programs for implementation of " cures," sterilization and killing.
Theories of eugenics were first developed in the latter half of the 19th century by by Frances Galton, relative of Charles Darwin and based loosely on the least proven at that time aspect of Darwin’s theories, the genetic. I don’t know of any scientific reason for their discarding what I consider the still most important aspect of Darwin’s theories, the impact of environment. It is clear they were doing "science" to prove a prejudice and not for information.
Eugenics and racial hygiene movements first flourished to maturity in the UK and US, coming to prominence in Germany later. It was promoted in Germany of the thirties and largely funded by John D. Rockefeller,Jr. and his foundations. Eugenics theory on its own was wildly popular in the United States under the Hoover administration because it so conveniently explained the reason for the poverty of the Great Depression was bad genes and not hunger, low wages or discrimination etc. It of course was also a highly convenient excuse to hold wages low by the US and in Germany multinational mega-industrialists where they had vast enterprises under Hitler..
I found this not long ago. It is Hoover abjectly apologizing to the American Eugenics Society for having suggested that all children needed in order to grow into productive citizens was good food and good care.
The cures focused on some real but mostly imagined causes of illness or misfortune, determining all to be the result of bad genes. State control of the people’s reproductive capacities and "euthanasia.." Killing became medical treatment. Though euthanasia was limited it did occur in other western nations.and there were mass involuntary sterilizations, some programs continued until after the ending of WW II. The last to go was the in the seventies; the program in Sweden..
I have gone to some length to describe eugenics which I hope makes it easier I think to understand its widespread attractiveness. To devote oneself to the end of improving all of mankind and in the service of one’s country does not seem so unnatural after all.
Deluded by perceived mastery of the tools of science and ennobling ideals these Nazi doctors became afflicted with hubris, of serving a more expansive good; a magnificent master greater than Hippocrates. Particular individuals faded and into insignificance. All that was required to begin the treatment was the technology and the bureaucracy.
Distance from the bedside of the subjects of their programs made easy the retreat from ethical responsibilities. Compensation included personal celebrity and positions of power with high esteem in the government certainly eased the way..
The bureaucracy and the technology enfeebled the most powerful prophylactic to science going mad; that is the direct association with the organic world of all living things. The empathy and the experience of connection with people that arises is what drives and fuels necessary emotional cognition that makes sense of data points. It is what prevents collective madness. Darwin is not alone in noting its importance in favoring the evolution and survival of species.
These patriotic "scientists" and "philosophers" eschewed empathy judging an excessively permissive and compassionate attitude toward the congenitally defective and the mentally ill to be destructive to the "Nordic races." They developed a program of propaganda promoting euthanasia to the people in town halls, film, radio and other media. Children deemed afflicted were the first to be systematically murdered. Then of course came the adults, and the so-called sexually perverse, and the Jews and the Communists and the Gypsies and Slavs etc.
The need for charity toward the unfortunate was suppressed. Indeed when rays of understanding broke through guilt was projected and the victims blamed for their misfortunes. When one’s gaze rests on one’s own human image and suffering is reflected; the eyes must be disabled or the mirror must be broken.
Even so, human caring is difficult to kill. Some working at the torture and killing struggled with emergence of empathy for the victimized. Records are replete with their strivings and efforts they pursued to blind and numb themselves in order to "courageously" serve the higher purpose.
But most succumbed to fear of the "unclean" fueling the blood lust. The obsessive killing escalated and continued, The crematoria were running full force to the final days of the war..
The pre-war medical establishment in the U.S. has a tawdry record of raising few alarms. There was little outcry as information regarding the application of the Nuremberg laws of the 1934, even the exclusion of the Jewish doctors.
Post-war the Nuremberg trials made a major contribution to civilization by placing accountability in the individual holding direct power. Actions could not to be excused on the basis of government command. That is atrocities were not excused on the grounds of direct orders from superiors or "events of wars." Sadly our nation under two presidents now has refuted that finding.
The doctors that were successfully prosecuted were convicted not on their collaboration in promoting eugenics, nor even the nature of their medical experiments but because they were done without permission.
Unfortunately the arrangement with the Japanese doctors was even worse, a pact with the Devil. — Remission from prosecution in exchange for research data obtained through torture and abuse of prisoners of war. Read Hastings Institute Critique of Nuremberg. And we know now also that a number of the Nazi doctors were employed by the peacetime CIA.
Books & Periodicals:
Jay Lifton The Nazi Doctors
Stephen Glass Life Unworthy of Living
Robert Proctor Racial Hygiene, Medicine Under the Nazis
Edwin Black War Against The Weak Eugenics And America’s Campaign To Create A Master Race
Stephen Jay Gould Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History or any other of his writings
Sir William Osler Any of his writings
JAMA 27 November 1996
The Hastings Institute Reports
Leni Riefenstahl Triumph of the Will
Judgment at Nuremberg
The web pages:Hotlinks
San Francisco Chronicle excerpts by Black from his book. War Against the Weak
Mengle’s Diary, excerpts
Mengle’s Diary, commentary, Der Spiegle
Burt The Suppressed Legacy of Nuremberg
In reading material on the Internet beware. There is a lot of crazy stuff and our right wingers are already trying mightily to connect eugenics with publicly funded health care and of course president Obams. They are the ones who have come after the illuminati and the Jews control of the wealth crowd. There is plenty of both