- Doctors' Trial
The Doctors' Trial (officially United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et al.) was the first of 12 trials for war crimes that the United States authorities held in their occupation zone in Nuremberg, Germany after the end of World War II. These trials were held before U.S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials", formally the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).
Twenty of the 23 defendants were medical doctors (Brack, Rudolf Brandt, and Sievers being Nazi officials instead) and were accused of having been involved in Nazi human experimentation and mass murder under the guise of euthanasia. Josef Mengele, one of the leading Nazi doctors, had evaded capture.
The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal I, were Walter B. Beals (presiding judge) from Washington, Harold L. Sebring from Florida, and Johnson T. Crawford from Oklahoma, with Victor C. Swearingen, a former special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States, as an alternate judge. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor and the chief prosecutor James M. McHaney. The indictment was filed on October 25, 1946; the trial lasted from December 9 that year until August 20, 1947. Of the 23 defendants, seven were acquitted and seven received death sentences; the remainder received prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.
The accused faced 4,000 charges, including:
- Conspiracy to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity as described in counts 2 and 3;
- War crimes: performing medical experiments, without the subjects' consent, on prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, in the course of which experiments the defendants committed murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhuman acts. Also planning and performing the mass murder of prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, stigmatized as aged, insane, incurably ill, deformed, and so on, by gas, lethal injections, and diverse other means in nursing homes, hospitals, and asylums during the Euthanasia Program and participating in the mass murder of concentration camp inmates.
- Crimes against humanity: committing crimes described under count 2 also on German nationals.
- Membership in a criminal organization, the SS.
The tribunal largely dropped count 1, stating that the charge was beyond its jurisdiction.
Name Function Charges Verdict and sentence 1 2 3 4 Hermann Becker-Freyseng Stabsarzt in the Luftwaffe (Captain, Medical Service of the Air Force); and Chief of the Department for Aviation Medicine of the Chief of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe I G G 20 years' imprisonment, commuted to 10 years-died 1961 Wilhelm Beiglböck Consulting Physician to the Luftwaffe I G G 15 years' imprisonment, commuted to 10 years-died 1963 Kurt Blome Deputy [of the] Reich Health Leader (Reichsgesundheitsführer); and Plenipotentiary for Cancer Research in the Reich Research Council I I I acquitted at Doctors' Trial but later convicted by French authorities and sentenced to 20 years-died 1969 Viktor Brack Oberführer (Senior Colonel) in the SS and Sturmbannführer (Major) in the Waffen SS; and Chief Administrative Officer in the Chancellery of the Führer of the NSDAP (Oberdienstleiter, Kanzlei des Führers der NSDAP) I G G G death Karl Brandt Personal physician to Adolf Hitler; Gruppenführer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General) in the Waffen SS; Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation (Reichskommissar für Sanitäts- und Gesundheitswesen); and member of the Reich Research Council (Reichsforschungsrat) I G G G death Rudolf Brandt Standartenführer (Colonel); in the Allgemeine SS; Personal Administrative Officer to Reichsführer SS Himmler (Persönlicher Referent von Himmler); and Ministerial Counsellor and Chief of the Ministerial Office in the Reich Ministry of the Interior I G G G death Fritz Fischer Sturmbannführer (Major) in the Waffen SS; and Assistant Physician to the defendant Gebhardt at the Hospital at Hohenlychen I G G G lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 15 years released 1954; died 2003 Karl Gebhardt Gruppenführer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General) in the Waffen SS; personal physician to Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler; Chief Surgeon of the Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police (Oberster Kliniker, Reichsarzt SS und Polizei); and President of the German Red Cross I G G G death Karl Genzken Gruppenführer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General) in the Waffen SS; and Chief of the Medical Department of the Waffen SS (Chef des Sanitätsamts der Waffen SS) I G G G lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 20 years released 1954-died 1957 Siegfried Handloser Generaloberstabsarzt (Colonel General, Medical Service); Medical Inspector of the Army (Heeressanitätsinspekteur); and Chief of the Medical Services of the Armed Forces (Chef des Wehrmachtsanitätswesens) I G G lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 20 years-released/died 1954 Waldemar Hoven Hauptsturmführer (Captain) in the Waffen SS; and Chief Doctor of the Buchenwald concentration camp I G G G death Joachim Mrugowsky Oberführer (Senior Colonel) in the Waffen SS; Chief Hygienist of the Reich Physician SS and Police (Oberster Hygieniker, Reichsarzt SS und Polizei); and Chief of the Hygienic Institute of the Waffen SS (Chef des Hygienischen Institutes der Waffen SS) I G G G death Herta Oberheuser Physician at the Ravensbrück concentration camp; and Assistant Physician to the defendant Gebhardt at the Hospital at Hohenlychen I G G 20 years' imprisonment, commuted to 10 years released 1952-died 1978 Adolf Pokorny Physician, Specialist in Skin and Venereal Diseases I I I acquitted Helmut Poppendick Oberführer (Senior Colonel) in the SS; and Chief of the Personal Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police (Chef des Persönlichen Stabes des Reichsarztes SS und Polizei) I I I G 10 years imprisonment, released 1951-died 1994 Hans Wolfgang Romberg Doctor on the Staff of the Department for Aviation Medicine at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation I I I acquitted Gerhard Rose Generalarzt of the Luftwaffe (Brigadier General, Medical Service of the Air Force); Vice President, Chief of the Department for Tropical Medicine, and Professor of the Robert Koch Institute; and Hygienic Adviser for Tropical Medicine to the Chief of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe I G G lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 20 years released 1955-died 1992 Paul Rostock Chief Surgeon of the Surgical Clinic in Berlin; Surgical Adviser to the Army; and Chief of the Office for Medical Science and Research (Amtschef der Dienststelle Medizinische Wissenschaft und Forschung) under the defendant Karl Brandt, Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation I I I acquitted-died 1956 Siegfried Ruff Director of the Department for Aviation Medicine at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation (Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt); still researching and publishing in the field of aviation as late as 1989 I I I acquitted Konrad Schäfer Doctor on the Staff of the Institute for Aviation Medicine in Berlin I I I acquitted Oskar Schröder Generaloberstabsarzt (Colonel General Medical Service); Chief of Staff of the Inspectorate of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe (Chef des Stabes, Inspekteur des Luftwaffe-Sanitätswesens); and Chief of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe (Chef des Sanitätswesens der Luftwaffe) I G G lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 15 years Wolfram Sievers Standartenführer (Colonel) in the SS; Reich Manager of the "Ahnenerbe" Society and Director of its Institute for Military Scientific Research (Institut für Wehrwissenschaftliche Zweckforschung); and Deputy Chairman of the Managing Board of Directors of the Reich Research Council I G G G death Georg August Weltz Oberfeldarzt in the Luftwaffe (Lieutenant Colonel, Medical Service, of the Air Force); and Chief of the Institute for Aviation Medicine in Munich I I I acquitted
I — Indicted G — Indicted and found guilty
For some, the difference between receiving a prison term and the death sentence was membership of "an organization declared criminal by the judgement of the International Military Tribunal", the SS. However, some SS medical personnel received prison sentences. The degree of personal involvement and/or presiding over groups involved was a factor in others.
- Bruno Beger
- Hans Conrad Julius Reiter
- Command responsibility
- Declaration of Geneva
- Declaration of Helsinki
- Medical ethics
- Medical torture
- Nazi eugenics
- Nuremberg Code
- Nuremberg Principles
- Research Materials: Max Planck Society Archive
- ^ Ruff, Siegfried, et al. Sicherheit und Rettung in der Luftfahrt. Koblenz : Bernard & Graefe, c1989.
- Hanauske-Abel, H. (1996). "Not a slippery slope or sudden subversion: German medicine and National Socialism in 1933". BMJ 313 (7070): 1453–1463. ISSN 0959-8138. PMC 2352969. PMID 8973235. http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/313/7070/1453?ijkey=41686bee0524cf4585d4937822eaa36f737c7453&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha.
- Pellegrino, E. (1997-08-15). "The Nazi Doctors and Nuremberg: Some Moral Lessons Revisited". ACP 127 (4): 307–308. doi:10.1059/0003-4819-127-4-199708150-00010 (inactive 2010-01-07). PMID 9265432. http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/127/4/307.
- Seidelman, W. (1996). "Nuremberg lamentation: for the forgotten victims of medical science". BMJ 313 (7070): 1463–1467. ISSN 0959-8138. PMC 2352986. PMID 8973236. http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/313/7070/1463.
- Lifton-Robert, Robert J. (2000). The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. Basic Books. ISBN 0465049052. (first edition, 1986, London, Macmillan)
- Weindling, P.J. (2005). Nazi Medicine and the Nuremberg Trials: From Medical War Crimes to Informed Consent. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-3911-X
- Spitz, Vivien (2005). Doctors from Hell. USA: Sentient Publications. ISBN 1-59181-032-9.
- Original documents and transcripts of the trial at Harvard's library
- Rogue's Gallery of Doctors Trial Defendants
- Trial proceedings (first part) and Trial proceedings (second part) from the Mazal library.(link seems dead)
- Description from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- Opening and closing statements and eyewitness testimony, at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
- The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments
- Life Unworthy of Life
- Biddiss M. (1997). "Disease and dictatorship: the case of Hitler's Reich" United States National Library of Medicine 1997 Jun;90(6):342-6.
Primary Subsequent Legal cases in medical ethicsAndrew Bedner · Betancourt v. Trinitas · Tony Bland · Mordechai Dov Brody · Carol Carr · Coleman v. Lantz · Betty and George Coumbias · Dax Cowart · Nancy Cruzan · Doctors' Trial · Baby Jane Doe · Eluana Englaro · Tirhas Habtegiris · June Hartley · Rom Houben · Sun Hudson case · Baby K · Jack Kevorkian · Jesse Koochin · Henrietta Lacks · Robert Latimer · Moore v. Regents of the University of California · Spiro Nikolouzos · Giovanni Nuvoli · Karen Ann Quinlan · Sue Rodriguez · Ramón Sampedro · Terri Schiavo case · Aruna Shanbaug case · Tuskegee syphilis experiment · David Vetter · Jana Van Voorhis · Piergiorgio Welby · Willowbrook State School
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