Monday, March 7, 2011

12 Annual Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Symposium Examines the Medical Profession and the Holocaust

Can it be that we are preparing for our 12th Annual Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Conference for Educators? During the past 12 years, more than 3,000 educators have attended these special symposia to learn from many topics, among them “Women in the Holocaust,” “Using Memoirs and Diaries as Teaching Tools,” and “Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust.” This year we examine a different perspective for us – the Medical Profession and the Holocaust, looking at how those sworn to save lives perverted this oath in the name of “science.”

Educators will learn about the development of Nazi medicine from its roots in the eugenics movement through its practice by Josef Mengele and others. They will also consider the ethical ramifications that Nazi medicine has had on medicine and science since the end of the Second World War.

Many German physicians, imbued with Nazi ideology, believed that the best way to care for the German people was to kill those who were seen as biological threats to the “Aryan race.” Beginning with the T-4 “euthanasia” program, which murdered thousands of mentally and physically disabled individuals, and ending with the genocide of the Jews and the murder of many others, physicians gave the aura of scientific respectability to the destruction of millions of human beings.

In her introductory remarks, Ms. Heller, a trained psychologist, will discuss how easily the moral code for medical professionals can be eroded as well as the complicity of the medical profession during the Holocaust.

Guest speakers include Michael Grodin, M.D., Professor of Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights at the Boston University School of Public Health and Professor of Socio-Medical Sciences and Community Medicine and Psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine, and historian William Frederick Meinecke, Jr., Ph.D., who has been on staff at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum since June 2000. His book, Nazi Ideology and the Holocaust was published by the USHMM in December 2007. He is a frequent lecturer on medical ethics and Nazi ideology.

This symposium takes place on Tuesday, March 15 and is ideally suited for middle and high school teachers of History and Social Studies, and will include a tour of the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Core Exhibition.

The conference is free, however, reservations are required. RSVP by Friday, March 11 by calling 646.437.4200 x 4505.

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