256987 Roles of Jewish physicians and allied health professionals in the camps and ghettos during the Holocaust

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 8:50 AM - 9:10 AM

Evelyn Liberman, Master's degree candidate , Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights Department, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Michael Grodin, MD , Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights Department, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Throughout the Holocaust, a number of Jewish physicians and other allied health professionals continued to provide health care to Jewish patients within the ghettos and camps. While much information has recently been published about Nazi medicine, there is a lack of information about Jewish health care providers and their impact. This research about Jewish health professionals was collected through published primary and secondary sources from these health care providers and emphasizes the ethical dilemmas that they encountered. Ethical dilemmas varied greatly between ghettos and camps. Within the ghettos, health care providers were instrumental in the daily functions of the interned Jews. Some participated in Jewish councils that helped organize labor, hygiene facilities, sanitation policies, food distribution, and more. Other clinicians continued to work within hospitals and encountered difficult situations like caring for orphaned children, deciding whether to euthanize patients, and trying to comfort patients without any tools or resources to relieve their suffering. Within some ghettos, doctors and nurses continued to operate medical/nursing schools and conduct scientific research. Within the camps, health care providers had to choose whether to work under Nazi doctors as researchers, clinicians for Jewish prisoners, or be killed for resisting these orders. Identifying as doctors, providing abortions, falsifying records, and trying to save as many lives as possible were common ethical dilemmas. This collection and examination of historical accounts reveals that the core of clinical medicine and public health consists of a deep concern for the human condition and the dedication to relieving suffering.

Learning Areas:
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health administration or related administration

Learning Objectives:
Compare the ethical dilemmas that Jewish allied health professionals faced in ghettos versus concentration camps. Differentiate the roles of Jewish allied health professionals from other prisoners within the ghettos and camps. Evaluate what it means to be an allied health professional when one lacks basic resources like food, clean water, medical supplies, and proper hygiene facilities. Assess the thought processes of Jewish allied health professionals when they were faced with ethical dilemmas and the decisions that they made.

Keywords: Ethics, Human Rights

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a research assistant and work closely with Dr. Michael Grodin. I have been involved with the project "The Role of Jewish Physicians and Allied Health Professionals in the Ghettos and Camps During the Holocaust," and I received an Undergraduate Research Opportunities (UROP) grant from Boston University for this research. Additionally, my presentation on this work won first place at the UROP Symposium in October of 2011 at Boston University out of 187 presentations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.