Science and the SwastikaBMJ 2001; 322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7288.742 (Published 24 March 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:742
All rapid responses
Peter Weindling becomes confused in his review of the channel 4
program "science and the swastika". The series appeared to shock the
viewer with allegations of doctors being not only complicit but a driving
force in nazi brutalism.
One of your reviewer's problems with the series was that it was not
balanced and that the nazi medics were portrayed as "unscrupulous, racist
and unrepentant". This was a programme pointing out that not all doctors
over the years have been guardians of their patients best interests. Nazi
germany was one of the darker examples of man's inhumanity to man. Medics
of the time were at the forefront of racist philosophies just as they are
now at the forefront of ethical research.
Paul Weindling points out various errors and inconsistencies in the
reportage some of which are simply irrelevant. He is annoyed that the
programme claims that nazis created "the first european gas chambers" when
history tells us that they had been used for delousing 30 years earlier.
What is the relevance of this smug historical detail? Does it make the
use of gas chambers any less sinister just because they were used before?
Are the brutal amputations committed by West African rebels any less
abhorrent simply because they have been done in the past?
Are we to take from the review of this series simply that Paul
Weindling did not like the series, or that evidence for doctors'
complicity in the mass murder of jews, gypsies and the disabled should be
Competing interests: No competing interests