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March 3, 1993

When Medicine Went Mad: Bioethics and the Holocaust

Author Affiliations

Southwestern Medical Center Dallas, Tex New York University Medical Center New York, NY


edited by Arthur L. Caplan (Contemporary Issues in Biomedicine, Ethics, and Society; conference, University of Minnesota, May 1989), 359 pp, $22.50, ISBN 0-89603-235-3, Totowa, NJ, Humana Press, 1992.

JAMA. 1993;269(9):1168. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500090104043

Courage is required of an individual who has been touched by the Holocaust, as was Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, to write about it. (His father, Sidney, was among the American troops that liberated Dachau.) Dr Caplan, the prominent director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Minnesota, organized a conference in May 1989, which examined the bioethical implications of the Holocaust. The articles published in his book represent the product of that meeting.

Countless books have been written about the Holocaust by individuals as divergent as revisionist historians who wish to deny its existence and victims who bear the scars of this monstrous experience. This book is divided in a very readable fashion into five main segments: "Testimonies," "Medicine, Bioethics, and Nazism," "The Use of Information From Nazi 'Experiments,'" "Medical Killing and Euthanasia: Then and Now," and "The Abuse of Medicine and the Legacy of the Holocaust."