Transcript Slide 1

Background to World War II,
Nuremberg Trials and
Nuremberg Code
Some of these images contain
graphic depictions of violence
Gabriel Tordjman, Issues in Bioethics, Dawson College, Winter 2014
World War I (1914-1918)
German Revolution (1918-1919)
Weimar Republic ( Germany, 1919-1933)
Nazis come into power (1933)
World War II (1939-45)
Nuremberg Trials and Nuremberg Code (19451949)
World War I
Trench Warfare
World War I (1914-1918)
Battle of the Somme: Trench Warfare [1916]
World War I (1914-1918)
David Swanson, “Abandoning
Torture But What About War?”, LA
Progressive, 10 Feb,. 2009.
Otto Dix, Stormtroopers Advancing
Under Gas (1924)
Metal on Metal,
Kathe Kollwitz, Killed in Action (1921)
“Kathe Kollwitz”
Kathe Kollwitz, Deutschlands Kinder Hungern! (1924)
Alexander B. Downes (dept. Pol. Sc. Duke)
Weimar Germany (1918-1933)
Hyperinflation (1923)
German children playing with worthless
In 1922 a loaf of bread
cost 163 marks. By
September 1923 a loaf of
bread cost 1,500,000
George Grosz, The Agitator (1928)
ABC Gallery
Weimar Germany (1918-1933)
Hitler during the “Beer Hall Putsch” (1923), the Nazis first (failed) attempt at seizing power.
Weimar Germany (1918-1933)
After years of political instability
and economic problems,
Germany, along with much of
the world suffered through a
devastating Great Depression
beginning in 1929.
The Great Depression
Famous photograph by Dorothea
Lange of Florence Owens and her
children outside a migrant workers’
camp in California during the Great
Nazis Come to Power 1932-33
It was under these
conditions, when huge
numbers of people lost
their jobs, that Hitler and
the Nazi party came to
power in Germany in
Nazi electoral propaganda
posters for the 1932
German election.
"Workers: The Brain and the Fist! Vote
for the frontsoldier Hitler!" (source: The
Rise of the Dictators: 1919-1939 by
Peter Banyard. Gallery Books, New
York City. 1986, p. 18.)
"Fight hunger and despair! Vote for
Hitler!" (source: "An Exhibition of
German Posters," May 8 through June
15, 1963, New School for Social
Research, New York City.)
Nazi Measures and Modern
During the Nazi Period (1933-45), the Nazis
enacted measures which still influence modern
day bioethical discussion. These include:
– Eugenics Measures
– The “Euthanasia” (T4) Program
– Unethical Experiments on Prisoners in
Concentration Camps
Nazi Eugenics
• Eugenics is an ideology claiming that the
human race can be “improved” biologically by
preventing the birth of undesirable individuals
and encouraging the birth of desirable
• In Nazi Germany, the “undesirable” included
all those who had physical or mental
disabilities or who were from groups they
considered racially inferior.
Nazi Eugenics
Nazi propaganda poster expressing
the idea that those with physical and
mental disabilities are a burden to
the German nation.
Nazi Eugenics
• Segregation, Sterilization and eventually killing
of “undesirables” were all tried in Nazi
• Eugenics was also influential in Canada, USA
and other countries before World War II.
• Sterilization laws were passed in many
American states and in Alberta leading to the
sterilization of many in institutions, prisons,
hospitals who were deemed “feebleminded”.
Nazi Euthanasia (Aktion T4) Program
Before and during the war, the Nazi regime
ordered doctors and health care workers to
report on and eventually to kill people deemed
to be mentally and physically disabled residing
in institutions and hospitals.
Hartheim Euthanasia Center
Thousands were killed here
by lethal injection and then
by poisoned gas.
Nazi Euthanasia (Aktion T4) Program
• The “expertise” gained in the Nazi euthanasia
program was later applied to even bigger mass
killing in “The Final Solution” in concentration
and death camps throughout Nazi occupied
• Today, this misuse of “euthanasia” still casts a
shadow over many current discussions of
legalization of euthanasia and “medically
assisted death”.
Nazi Experimentation on Human Subjects
During the war years, German scientists, doctors
and nurses also conducted and participated in
unethical experiments on unwilling subjects in
concentration and death camps, such as
Nazi Experimentation on Human Subjects
Hypothermia (freezing experiments) conducted at Dachau concentration camp
Post War
The end of the war saw the defeat of Nazi
Germany by the Allied powers and revealed the
full extent of the horrors mentioned above.
In 1939 World War II broke out.
World War II (1939-45)
Nuremberg, Germany, April 1945
Allied (Soviet) troops enter Berlin, May 1945.
Allied (American) troops landing on the beaches of Normandy, France, June 1944.
Allied (Canadian) troops liberate Netherlands (Holland), April, 1945.
Pictures of
survivors after the
liberation of
camp, April 1945.
The Nuremberg Trials (1946-49)
The Nuremberg (Nuernberg) Trials are a
distinct series of trials, some of which
prosecuted the political, military and civilian
leaders of the Nazi regime while others
focused on the judges and other key figures.
Finally, the “Doctors’ Trial” or “medical case”
are another set of trials which prosecuted
some of the doctors, nurses and scientific
men responsible for unethical experiments
conducted in various concentration and death
camps established by the Nazi regime
between 1939-45.
The Nuremberg Trials (1946-49)
This was the most famous of the trials of the Major War Criminals and included some of the military and political
leaders of the Third Reich, such as Herman Goering, the leader of Germany’s air force (Luftwaffe), Hitler’s top general
and successor (seated left with dark glasses and headphones).
USMessageBoard, Date accessed; January 14, 2014.
Nuremberg Trial:
“The Doctors’ Trial”
Jadwiga Dzido, a victim
of medical experiments,
a prosecution witness at
the Doctors Trial.
Nuremberg, Germany,
December 22, 1946
Photos: Walter B. Beals, Presiding Judge. Doctors' Trial panel of judges: Walter B. Beals, Johnston
T. Crawford, Victor Swearingen (alternate judge).
Gallagher Law Library. University of Washington Law School. Feb. 7, 2009. Date accessed Janary
13, 2014.
Hitler’s personal physician, Karl Brandt gets up to hear his sentence: death by hanging.
Legacy of the Nuremberg Trials
• The Doctors’ Trial lead to The Nuremberg
– A key document in modern day medical and
research ethics.
– Reaffirms ethical norms in experimentation on
human subjects
– Stresses importance of “informed consent” of the
experimental subject in any scientific or medical
Legacy of the Nuremberg Trials
• The Trial of the War Criminals
– Cornerstone of international law today
– Key to establishment of the International Criminal
Court in 2003 (Headquarters: The Hague,
– “Crimes against humanity” and “War Crimes”
remain key offences.
– These charges have been leveled against various
military and political leaders in current conflicts
and wars.
Kathe Kollwitz, Nie wider Krieg! [Never
again War] (1924)