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Book and New Media Reviews
September 1999

Death of Medicine in Nazi Germany: Dermatology and Dermatopathology Under the Swastika

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Arch Dermatol. 1999;135(9):1132-1135. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Dermatol.-ISSN-0003-987x-135-9-dbk0999

The systematic annihilation of 6 million Jews in Europe and the loss of 50 million lives in World War II are events all too well known to us. Still puzzling is how and why it happened in Germany. When genocide occurs in Rwanda, the Sudan, or Bosnia or by Armenians against Kurds, it is deplored but attributed to ancient ethnic enmities, fratricide, and/or inevitable Malthusian forces. However, Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had developed an enviable, highly advanced culture, and nowhere else in continental Europe were Jews so thoroughly integrated into society. Unlike their eastern European counterparts, most German Jews considered themselves thoroughly German and completely assimilated. How then could such a barbaric chapter occur? Wolfgang Weyers, a German dermatopathologist whose own grandfather was a Nazi, attempts to address this issue in this well-written and superbly edited book, complemented by a challenging, emotionally charged foreword by Dr A. Bernard Ackerman. What makes this volume so unusual is its meticulous scholarship, coupled with the absolute integrity of a contemporary German gazing courageously at his own roots.

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