In this public lecture, Dr. Sheldon Rubenfeld of the Baylor College of Medicine will speak on how medicine and medical ethics were challenged and affected by the Holocaust.
German physicians, the best in the world at the time, embraced eugenics, a world-wide movement in the first three decades of the twentieth century, transformed the Hippocratic Oath from a doctor-patient relationship into a State-Volkskörper relationship, and developed a politicized philosophy of medicine called “Applied Biology." Hitler refashioned these ideas into public health policies—involuntary sterilization, Nuremberg Laws, involuntary euthanasia— that led to a rational if evil conclusion, the Holocaust.
The United States was the world leader in eugenics, providing moral, legal, and philanthropic support to the Third Reich. Nazi propagandists responded to criticism of their anti-Semitic policies by citing America’s treatment of its black citizens. After the end of World War II and the Nuremberg Medical Trial, the United States dismissed the behavior of German medical professionals as an irrelevant aberration, developed comforting but false myths about medicine and the Holocaust, and failed to examine her own eugenic past and its implication for contemporary medicine.
This lecture will review this history and challenge medical professionals and healthcare policy makers to personally confront the bioethics of the Holocaust and apply that knowledge to contemporary medicine.
Dr. Sheldon Rubenfeld trained at Georgetown, Boston City Hospital, and Baylor College of Medicine, where he is Clinical Professor of Medicine. He was in the private practice of endocrinology until June 2014. In 2007 Dr. Rubenfeld created a six-month exhibit Medical Ethics and the Holocaust, at Holocaust Museum Houston and a lecture series that included three Nobel Laureates and other distinguished speakers. In 2010 he founded the Center for Medicine after the Holocaust (CMATH) challenge physicians, nurses, and bioscientists to personally confront the medical ethics of the Holocaust and apply that knowledge to contemporary practice and research. Dr. Rubenfeld taught at Rice University and continues to teach Healing by Killing: Medicine in the Third Reich at Baylor. He published Medicine After the Holocaust: From the Master Race to the Human Genome and Beyond in 2010 and Human Subjects Research after the Holocaust in 2014. In 2015 the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists honored him with the Excellence in Medical Ethics Award. Dr. Rubenfeld will lead CMATH’s fourth biennial trip to European medical sites relevant to the Holocaust in the spring of 2017, the 70th anniversary of the Nuremberg Code.
Save This Event
When & Where
UW Stroum Center for Jewish Studies