Center for Bioethics Papers

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

August 1989


Despite the central role played by the events leading to and during the Holocaust in bioethical discourse, bioethicists have paid surprisingly little attention to examining the nature of the crimes committed in the name of medicine and science, the moral rationales used to defend these crimes, or to the specifics of history that do and do not find parallels in current public policies and moral disputes. The Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Minnesota convened a conference on May 17-19, 1989, to examine some of these issues. The conference focused on five major themes: What role did mainstream medicine and science play in the creation of the Nazi state; What did German scientists and physicians think about and do in the name of eugenics and euthanasia; What moral rationales were used to justify the involvement of medicine - and science with genocide, euthanasia, and racism; Should scientists and physicians make any use of information obtained from barbarous experiments conducted on innocent persons in concentration camps; and What is the appropriate use of metaphors and analogies to the Nazi era in contemporary debates in bioethics?


© The Hastings Center. Reprinted with Permission. This article originally appeared in The Hastings Center Report, Volume 19, Issue 4, August 1989, pages 2-3.
Publisher URL:



Date Posted: 18 May 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.