[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
November 27, 1996

Legacies of Nuremberg: Medical Ethics and Human Rights

Author Affiliations

From the Health Law Department, Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, Boston, Mass.

JAMA. 1996;276(20):1682-1683. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540200068035

The 50th anniversary of the Doctors Trial at Nuremberg provides an important opportunity to reflect on its legacy to both medical ethics and human rights. While many contemporary physicians view medicine's involvement in Nazi Germany as of only historical interest, the articles by Katz,1 Sidel,2 Barondess,3 Faden et al,4 Harkness,5 Sonis et al,6 and Seidelman7 eloquently demonstrate that there is much we can learn by confronting the crimes committed by the Nazi physicians.

After World War II, the Allies prosecuted the major surviving Nazi war criminals in an international military tribunal before judges from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the former Soviet Union. That trial resulted in making new international law and can properly be seen, together with the promulgation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as the birth of the international human rights movement. The trial