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MSIH Students Partake in Medicine & Holocaust Conference

Abstracts by MSIH students were accepted for presentation this year at the 22nd Annual Medicine & Holocaust Conference which was held in May.

For decades medical ethicists have been grappling with the difficult issue of the Holocaust and their profession. No one can explain how respected physicians were active Nazis, abandoning all ethical standards, while actively participating in mass slaughter – despite their medical education and training.

Each year in Israel, shortly after Holocaust Memorial Day, ethicists from around the world congregate for the Medicine & Holocaust Conference. There they discuss and analyze – not only to understand how it happened – but to prevent its recurrence.

Under the supervision of Dr. Matthew Fox – a medical ethicist – several MSIH students have been researching the Holocaust. All three of the students’ abstracts have been accepted for presentation at the Conference.

 

  • A worrying study conducted by Benedikt Munzar and Dr. Fox reveals that the past decade has seen a purging of the names of Nazi doctors from medical literature. This “cleansing” of any trace of professional misconduct removes a critical mnemonic device to remind physicians of their fallibility, irrespective of professional standing, and the inherent potential and power of medicine not just to heal, but to harm as well.
  • Yaek Yekel, together with Dr. Fox, is using a Holocaust-themed audiobook as an innovative and experiential teaching opportunity for medical students and faculty. The book – available as a series of podcast chapters – is a Jewish doctor’s account of wartime Lithuania. “Memories of Doctor” – a personal memoir of Dr. Fruma Gurwitz – was published in 1981. Some forty years later, her great- granddaughter, Israeli actress Yael Yekel, created a voice adaptation. From this, Dr. Matt Fox has created a teaching module making use of audio segments to illustrate the unique role of Jewish medical services in the Ghettos. A trailer is available (in Hebrew) here.
  • Raphael Nowak, together with Dr. Fox, produced an abstract that illustrated how Friedrich Berner, a graduate of Rostock University Medical School, began training in radiology. He had an accomplished early career as an academic clinician engaged in research. However, a series of incrementally depraved ethical choice led to atrocious medical malfeasance – turning an outstanding healer into a ruthless murderer. A lesson can be learned from the slow loss of ethical standards.

 

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