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August 23, 1947


JAMA. 1947;134(17):1482-1483. doi:10.1001/jama.1947.72880340008007b

The absurd paradox of this era is constituted by the prodigious achievements of medicine on the one hand and the destructive fury of war on the other. That such miracles should be performed in the alleviation of human suffering and the preservation of life while war spreads disease and death is a fateful coincidence that deserves deep study and thought. To the physician or surgeon who exerts all of his skill and strength for the preservation of some precious life, it must be ironic to realize that within our own time two nations, Russia and Germany, have each planned deliberately and carried through successfully the tortured destruction of an estimated five million of their own finest citizens. Add to this the smaller slaughters in smaller nations and then the crippling, the diseasing, the maiming, the blinding and the killing of an incalculable number in history's two greatest wars, and medicine's

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