Advertisement

Nazism, Religion, and Human Experimentation

  • Sana Loue
Chapter
  • 8 Downloads

Abstract

Multiple factors have been identified as contributing to the willingness of physicians and scientists to participate in the development and conduct of experiments carried out on Nazi concentration camp prisoners, including the economic challenges then facing physicians, the potential for increased status and power in the Nazi government, and their own hostility toward Jews and others deemed “not worth living.” They conducted these experiments against a backdrop of their societies’ longstanding anti-Semitic sentiments, the promulgation of anti-Jewish rhetoric by Christian authorities, and the incorporation into law of increasingly severe and restrictive anti-Jewish measures and, ultimately, embraced efforts to eradicate all Jews and evidence of Jewishness. This chapter argues that religion was relevant not only to the question of who was targeted by Nazi medical policy—Jews, conceived of by the Nazis as a race rather than a religion—but also to the question of who was doing the targeting—physicians who appear to have identified religiously primarily as Christians and who interpreted Nazi dogma as congruent with their religious beliefs and teachings.

Keywords

Antisemitism Nazism Human experimentation Medicine Positive Christianity Prejudice Racial hygiene Racial policy Religion Research ethics Tuskegee syphilis study 

References

  1. Arluke, A., & Sax, B. (1992). Understanding Nazi animal protection and the Holocaust. Anthrozoös, 5(1), 6–31.Google Scholar
  2. Babik, M. (2006). Nazism as a secular religion. History and Theory, 45, 375–396.Google Scholar
  3. Beeri, E. (2008). La Civiltà Cattolica. Encyclopedia Judaica. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/la-civilt-cattolica. Accessed 02 Sept 2019.
  4. Bergen, D. L. (1994). The Nazi concept of ‘Volksdeutsche’ and the exacerbation of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe, 1939-45. Journal of Contemporary History, 29, 569–582.Google Scholar
  5. Bergen, D. L. (1996). Twisted cross: The German Christian movement in the Third Reich. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bergen, D. L. (2007). Nazism and Christianity: Partners and rivals? A response to Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich. Nazi conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945. Journal of Contemporary History, 42(1), 25–33.Google Scholar
  7. Berger, R. L. (1992). Nazi science: Comments on the validation of the Dachau human hypothermia experiments. In A. L. Caplan (ed.), When medicine went mad: Bioethics and the Holocaust (pp. 109–134). Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.Google Scholar
  8. Blackburn, G. W. (1980). The portrayal of Christianity in the history textbooks of Nazi Germany. Church History, 49(4), 433–445.Google Scholar
  9. Boissoneault, L. (2018). A 1938 Nazi law forced Jews to register their wealth—Making it easier to steal. Smithsonian.com. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/1938-nazi-law-forced-jews-register-their-wealthmaking-it-easier-steal-180968894/. Accessed 13 Sept 2019.
  10. Brandt, A. M. (1985). Racism and research: The case of the Tuskegee syphilis study. In J. W. Leavitt & R. L. Numbers (Eds.), Sickness and health in America: Readings in the history of medicine and public health (pp. 331–343). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  11. British Library. (n.d.). Learning: Voices of the Holocaust: Anti-Jewish decrees. https://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/voices/info/decrees/decrees.html. Accessed 14 Sept 2019.
  12. Bruns, F., & Chelouche, T. (2017). Lectures on inhumanity: Teaching medical ethics in German medical schools under Nazism. Annals of Internal Medicine, 166, 591–595.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Burleigh, M. (2000a). National socialism as a political religion. Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, 1(2), 1–26.Google Scholar
  14. Burleigh, M. (2000b). The Third Reich: A new history. New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  15. Burleigh, M., & Wippermann, W. (1991). The racial state: Germany, 1933–1945. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Caplan, A. L. (Ed.). (1992). When medicine went mad: Bioethics and the Holocaust (pp. 109–134). Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.Google Scholar
  17. Clark, E. G., & Danbolt, N. (1955). The Oslo study of the natural history of untreated syphilis. Journal of Chronic Diseases, 2, 311–344.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Colaianni, A. (2012). A long shadow: Nazi doctors, moral vulnerability and contemporary medical culture. Journal of Medical Ethics, 38, 435–438.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Dawidowicz, L. (1975). The war against the Jews, 1933–1945. New York: Holt, Reinhert, and Winston.Google Scholar
  20. Dawkins, R. (2010, September 22). Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/sep/22/ratzinger-enemy-humanity. Accessed 01 Sept 2019.
  21. Drescher, J. (1998). I’m your handyman: A history of reparative therapies. Journal of Homosexuality, 36, 19–42.Google Scholar
  22. Eckart, U., & Rouland, A. J. (2006). First principles: Julius Moses and medical experimentation in the late Weimer Republic. In W. U. Eckart (Ed.), Man, medicine, and the state. The human body as an object of government sponsored medical research in the 20th century (pp. 35–47). Stuttgart, Germany: Steiner.Google Scholar
  23. Eldridge, S. W. (2006). Ideological incompatibility: The forced fusion of Nazism and Protestant theology and its impact on anti-Semitism in the Third Reich. International Social Science Review, 81(3/4), 151–165.Google Scholar
  24. Evans, S. E. (2004). Forgotten crimes: The Holocaust and people with disabilities. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee.Google Scholar
  25. Evans, R. J. (2007). Nazism, Christianity, and political religion: A debate. Journal of Contemporary History, 42(1), 5–7.Google Scholar
  26. Ezell, H. K. (1959). The Christian problem of racial segregation. New York: Greenwich Book Publishers.Google Scholar
  27. Fest, J. (1974). Hitler. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  28. Grodin, M. A. (1992). Historical origins of the Nuremberg Code. In G. J. Annas & M. A. Grodin (Eds.), The Nazi doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human rights in human experimentation (pp. 121–144). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Haldeman, D. C. (1994). The practice and ethics of sexual orientation conversion therapy. Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology, 62, 221–227.Google Scholar
  30. Hanfstaengl, E. (1957). Unheard witness. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott.Google Scholar
  31. Harrigan, W. M. (1961). Nazi Germany and the Holy See, 1933-1936. The Catholic Historical Review, 47(2), 164–198.Google Scholar
  32. Hastings, D. (2003). How “Catholic” was the early Nazi movement? Religion, race, and culture in Munich, 1919-1924. Central European History, 36(3), 383–433.Google Scholar
  33. Hazen, H. H. (1914). Syphilis in the American Negro. Journal of the American Medical Association, 63, 463–466.Google Scholar
  34. Haynes, S. R. (2002). Noah’s curse: The Biblical justification of American slavery. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Helm, S. (2015). Ravensbrück: Life and death in Hitler’s concentration camp for women. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  36. Heschel, S. (2008). The Aryan Jesus: Christian theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Hitler, A. (1943 [1925]). Mein Kampf [My struggle] (R. Manheim, Trans.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.Google Scholar
  38. Holocaust.cz. (n.d.). The persecution of German Jews after the Nazi seizure of power. https://www.holocaust.cz/en/history/final-solution/general-2/the-persecution-of-german-jews-after-the-nazi-seizure-of-power/. Accessed 13 Sept 2019.
  39. Howard, W. L. (1903). The Negro as a distinct ethnic factor in civilization. Medicine (Detroit), 9, 424.Google Scholar
  40. Jewish Virtual Library. (2019). Adolf Hitler: On the annihilation of the Jews. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/adolf-hitler-on-the-annihilation-of-the-jews-september-1919. Accessed 01 Sept 2019.
  41. Kater, M. H. (1989). Doctors under Hitler. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  42. Katz, J., & Pozos, R. S. (1992). The Dachau hypothermia study: An ethical and scientific commentary. In A. L. Caplan (Ed.), When medicine went mad: Bioethics and the Holocaust (pp. 135–140). Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.Google Scholar
  43. Koehne, S. (2013). Reassessing The Holy Reich: Leading Nazis’ views on confession, community and Jewish materialism. Journal of Contemporary History, 48(3), 423–445.Google Scholar
  44. Koehne, S. (2014a). Nazism and religion: The problem of “positive Christianity”. Australian Journal of Politics and History, 60(1), 28–42.Google Scholar
  45. Koehne, S. (2014b). The racial yardstick: “Ethnotheism” and official Nazi views on religion. German Studies Review, 37(3), 575–596.Google Scholar
  46. Koonz, C. (2003). The Nazi conscience. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Kurlander, E. (2012). Hitler’s monsters: The occult roots of Nazism and the emergence of the Nazi ‘supernatural imaginary’. German History, 30(4), 528–549.Google Scholar
  48. Kurlander, E. (2015). The Nazi magicians’ controversy: Enlightenment, “border science,” and occultism in the Third Reich. Central European History, 48, 498–522.Google Scholar
  49. Lifton, R. J. (1986). The Nazi doctors: Medical killing and the psychology of genocide. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  50. Lumans, V. O. (1993). Himmler’s auxiliaries: The Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle and the German national minorities in Eastern Europe, 1939–1945. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  51. Matheson, P. (Ed.). (1981). The Third Reich and the Christian churches. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.Google Scholar
  52. Michael, R. (2006). Holy hatred: Christianity, antisemitism, and the Holocaust. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  53. Modras, R. (1994). The Catholic Church and anti-Semitism: Poland, 1933–1939. Chur, Switzerland: Harwood Press.Google Scholar
  54. Moore, J. E. (1933). The modern treatment of syphilis. Baltimore: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  55. Morin, S. F. (1977). Heterosexual bias in psychological research on lesbianism and male homosexuality. American Psychologist, 32(8), 629–637.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Mostow, P. (1993). Like building on top of Auschwitz: On the symbolic meaning of using data from the Nazi experiments, and on non-use as a form of memorial. Journal of Law & Religion, 10, 403–431.Google Scholar
  57. Nicolosi, J., Byrd, A. D., & Potts, R. W. (2000). Retrospective self-reports of changes in homosexual orientation: A consumer survey of conversion therapy clients. Psychological Reports, 86(3 Suppl), 1071–1088.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Nyiszli, M. (2012 [1960]). Auschwitz: A doctor’s eyewitness account. New York: Arcade Publishing.Google Scholar
  59. Pellegrino, E. D. (1997). The Nazi doctors and Nuremberg: Some moral lessons revisited. Annals of Internal Medicine, 127, 307–308.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Phayer, M. (2000). The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930–1965. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Piper, E. (2007). Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich. Journal of Contemporary History, 42(1), 47–57.Google Scholar
  62. Poewe, K. (2006). New religions and the Nazis. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  63. Pozos, R. S. (1992). Scientific inquiry and ethics: The Dachau data. In A. L. Caplan (Ed.), When medicine went mad: Bioethics and the Holocaust (pp. 95–108). Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.Google Scholar
  64. Proctor, R. N. (1988). Racial hygiene: Medicine under the Nazis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  65. Proctor, R. N. (1992). Nazi doctors, racial medicine, and human experimentation. In G. J. Annas & M. A. Grodin (Eds.), The Nazi doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human rights in human experimentation (pp. 17–31). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Proctor, R. N. (1999). The Nazi war on cancer. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Proctor, R. N. (2000). Nazi science and Nazi medical ethics: Some myths and misconceptions. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 43(3), 335–346.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Pross, C. (1992). Nazi doctors, German medicine, and historical truth. In G. J. Annas & M. A. Grodin (Eds.), The Nazi doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human rights in human experimentation (pp. 32–52). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Pulzer, P. (1988). The rise of political antisemitism in Germany and Austria (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  70. Quillian, D. D. (1906). Racial peculiarities: A cause of the prevalence of syphilis in Negroes. American Journal of Dermatology & Genito-Urinary Disease, 10, 277–279.Google Scholar
  71. Roelcke, V. (2010). Medicine during the Nazi period: Historical facts and some implications for teaching medical ethics and professionalism. In S. Rubenfeld (Ed.), Medicine after the Holocaust: From the master race to the human genome and beyond (pp. 17–28). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  72. Schellenberg, W. (1956). In L. Hagen (Ed.), The Schellenberg memoirs. London: Andre Deutsch.Google Scholar
  73. Schmidt, U. (2007). Karl Brandt: The Nazi doctor. Medicine and power in the Third Reich. London: Hambledom Continuum.Google Scholar
  74. Scholder, K. (1989). A requiem for Hitler and other perspectives on the German Church struggle. London: Schoen Books.Google Scholar
  75. Smith, H. S. (1972). In his image, but … racism in southern religion, 1780–1910. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Snay, M. (1993). Gospel of disunion: Religion and separation in the antebellum South. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  77. Steigmann-Gall, R. (2003). The holy Reich: Nazi conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  78. Steigmann-Gall, R. (2004). Nazism and the revival of political religion theory. Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, 5(3), 376–396.Google Scholar
  79. Stern, A. M. (2005). Sterilized in the name of public health: Race, immigration, and reproductive control in modern California. American Journal of Public Health, 95(7), 1128–1138.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  80. Stowers, S. (2007). The concepts of ‘religion,’ ‘political religion,’ and the study of Nazism. Journal of Contemporary History, 42, 9–24.Google Scholar
  81. Strasser, O. (1940). Hitler and I. (G. David & E. Mosbacher, Trans.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  82. Taylor, T. (1992). Opening statement of the prosecution, December 9, 1946. In G. J. Annas & M. A. Grodin (Eds.), The Nazi doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human rights in human experimentation (pp. 67–93). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  83. The History Place. (1997). Holocaust timeline. http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/holocaust/timeline.html. Accessed 19 Sept 2019.
  84. Thomas, S. B., & Quinn, S. C. (1991). The Tuskegee syphilis study, 1932-1972: Implications for HIV education and AIDS risk education programs in the black community. American Journal of Public Health, 81, 1498–1504.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  85. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (n.d.-a). Anti-Jewish legislation in prewar Germany. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/anti-jewish-legislation-in-prewar-germany. Accessed 13 Sept 2019.
  86. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (n.d.-b). The German churches and the Nazi state. Holocaust Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/ the-german-churches-and-the-nazi-state. Accessed 02 Sept 2019.
  87. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (n.d.-c). Medical experiments. https://www.ushmm.org/collections/bibliography/medical-experiments. Accessed 02 Sept 2019.
  88. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (n.d.-d). Nazi medical experiments. Holocaust Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/nazi-medical-experiments. Accessed 02 Sept 2019.
  89. Vondung, K. (2005). National socialism as a political religion: Potentials and limits of an analytical concept. Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, 6(1), 87–95.Google Scholar
  90. Ward, M. C. (1986). Poor women, powerful men: America’s great experiment in family planning. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  91. Weikart, R. (2016). Hitler’s religion: The twisted beliefs that drove the Third Reich. Washington, DC: Regnery History.Google Scholar
  92. Weir, T. H. (2014). Secularism and religion in nineteenth-century Germany: The rise of the fourth confession. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  93. Weyers, W. (1998). Death of medicine in Nazi Germany: Dermatology and dermatopathology under the swastika. New York: Madison Books.Google Scholar
  94. Williamson, G. S. (2004). The longing for myth in Germany: Religion and aesthetic culture from Romanticism to Nietzsche. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  95. Wood, F. G. (1990). The arrogance of faith: Christianity and race in America from the colonial era to the twentieth century. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  96. Yad Vashem. (n.d.). Anti-Jewish legislation. https://www.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%205741.pdf. Accessed 13 Sept 2019.
  97. Zabel, J. A. (1976). Nazism and the pastors: A study of the ideas of three Deutsche Christian groups. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press for the American Academy of Religion.Google Scholar

Legal References

    Cases

    1. Complaint, Goldsboro Christian Schools v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983).Google Scholar

    Legislative History

    1. 92 Congressional Record 13201–13207 (1964).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sana Loue
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Medicine, Department of BioethicsCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations