The Neurologist And The Nazi

Paris International Exposition: Nazi Germany p...

After I had my grand mal seizure last fall I was encouraged (forced) to see a neurologist for an assessment of my EEG. He was young, engaging, and when he realized where I work and what I do for a living let his guard down a little and we talked shop.

During our discussion he admitted to me that at least some of what he learned in medical school was information provided by the nazis in World War Two. Needless to say I was intrigued and pumped him for information. I have known for some time, being an amateur history and World War Two buff, that the experiments on the prisoners at the concentration camps had not been destroyed. I imagined that some of their research, no matter how heinous, must have worked its way into some form of science. I was a little surprised, however, to find out that a neurologist educated in Canada alleged that at least some portion of his understanding of neurology could be traced back to the Third Reich. Debate rages over the ethical ramifications of such use, though several credible sources, even Jewish sources, trumpet the pragmatic value of morally tainted data.

At this point it is tempting to look on the bright side and make platitudes about how “good can come out of bad” or something inane like that. Not going to happen.

No amount of understanding, at least in my mind, even remotely justifies what happened. I have seen some of the pictures, read about the experiments with altitude, cold, pregnancy, mutations, proposed medicines, poisons, etc. It’s just not worth it.

As a counselor it is tempting to try put a positive spin on pain or problems. I know personally that I am a much better person because of the emotional and personal breakdown I had over a decade ago. I realize that I have learned lessons and matured in ways that can only come about through pain. Trauma teaches lessons, if we are willing to hear them.

Was it worth it?


If you liked this article you might want to check out – Lowering Your Expectations.


6 thoughts on “The Neurologist And The Nazi

  1. I love this article. Ive actually found myself in near arguments as people have told me I should never feel regretful and perhaps even be thankful of things that happened to me because others were abusive or just plain cruel and stupid. What? No….there is nothing good about and in fact, I would have rather not had any of it occur. I loved “was it worth it? nope.” echoes my heart.

  2. I wish the research hadn’t been done. But given that it was i guess it should be used. As a commentor above said, at least the torture wasn’t all for naught. At least that is how I would feel if it had happened to me.

  3. As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors (and one my grandfathers – healthy enough to be a thoroughly abused guinea pig) I should hope and pray that their suffering, disfigurement and debilitations were not for nothing. If nothing else, at least modern medicine has been advanced. Having said that, my only other comment is: never again.
    Thank you for your powerful perspective.

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