MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

On January 27, 1945, the concentration camp in Auschwitz was liberated. By May of the same year, around 20 similar camps had been discovered. What they revealed is so shocking that it is difficult to put it in words.

Today, on ‘HOCOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY’, I quote (shortened and slightly modified) from articles I published many years ago (references can be found in the originals) to remind us of the unspeakable atrocities that occurred during the Nazi period and of the crucial role the German medical profession played in them.

The Nazi’s euthanasia programme, also known as “Action T4″, started in specialized medicinal departments in 1939. Initially, it was aimed at children suffering from “idiocy, Down’s syndrome, hydrocephalus and other abnormalities”. By the end of 1939, the programme was extended to adults “unworthy of living.” We estimate that, when it was stopped, more than 70,000 patients had been killed.

Action T4 (named after its address: Tiergarten Strasse 4) was the Berlin headquarters of the euthanasia programme. It was run by approximately 50 physicians who, amongst other activities, sent questionnaires to (mostly psychiatric) hospitals urging them to return lists of patients for euthanasia. The victims were transported to specialized centers where they were gassed or poisoned. Action T4 was thus responsible for medically supervised, large-scale murder. Its true significance, however, lies elsewhere. Action T4 turned out to be nothing less than a “pilot project” for the extinction of millions of prisoners of the concentration camps.

The T4 units had developed the technology for killing on an industrial scale. It was only with this know-how that the total extinction of all Jews of the Reich could be planned. This truly monstrous task required medical expertise.

Almost without exception, those physicians who had worked for T4 went on to take charge of what the Nazis called the ‘Final Solution’. While action T4 had killed thousands, its offspring would murder millions under the trained instructions of Nazi doctors.

The medical profession’s role in these crimes was critical and essential. German physicians had been involved at all levels and stages. They had created and embraced the pseudo-science of race hygiene. They were instrumental in developing it further into applied racism. They had generated the know-how of mass extinction. Finally, they also performed outrageously cruel and criminal experiments under the guise of scientific inquiry [see below]. German doctors had thus betrayed all the ideals medicine had previously stood for, and had become involved in criminal activities unprecedented in the history of medicine (full details and references on all of this are provided in my article, see link above).

Alternative medicine

It is well-documented that alternative medicine was strongly supported by the Nazis. The general belief is that this had nothing to do with the sickening atrocities of this period. I believe that this assumption is not entirely correct. In 2001, I published an article which reviews the this subject; I take the liberty of borrowing from it here.

Based on a general movement in favour of all things natural, a powerful trend towards natural ways of healing had developed in the 19(th)century. By 1930, this had led to a situation in Germany where roughly as many lay-practitioners of alternative medicine as conventional doctors were in practice.This had led to considerable tensions between the two camps. To re-unify German medicine under the banner of ‘Neue Deutsche Heilkunde’ (New German Medicine), Nazi officials eventually decided to create  the profession of the ‘Heilpraktiker‘ (healing practitioner). Heilpraktiker were not allowed to train students and their profession was thus meant to become extinct within one generation; Goebbels spoke of having created the cradle and the grave of the Heilpraktiker. However, after 1945, this decision was challenged in the courts and eventually over-turned – and this is why Heilpraktiker are still thriving today.

The ‘flag ship’ of the ‘Neue Deutsche Heilkunde’ was the ‘Rudolf Hess Krankenhaus‘ in Dresden (which was re-named into Gerhard Wagner Krankenhaus after Hess’ flight to the UK). It represented a full integration of alternative and orthodox medicine.

‘Research’

An example of systematic research into alternative medicine is the Nazi government’s project to validate homoeopathy. The data of this massive research programme are now lost (some speculate that homeopaths made them disappear) but, according to an eye-witness report, its results were entirely negative (full details and references on alt med in 3rd Reich are in the article cited above).

There is,of course, plenty of literature on the subject of Nazi ‘research’ (actually, it was pseudo-research) and the unspeakable crimes it entailed. By contrast, there is almost no published evidence that these activities included in any way alternative medicine, and the general opinion seems to be that there are no connections whatsoever. I fear that this notion might be erroneous.

As far as I can make out, no systematic study of the subject has so far been published, but I found several hints and indications that the criminal experiments of Nazi doctors also involved alternative medicine (the sources are provided in my articles cited above or in the links provided below). Here are but a few leads:

Dr Wagner, the chief medical officer of the Nazis was a dedicated and most active proponent of alternative medicine.

Doctors in the alternative “Rudolf Hess Krankenhaus” [see above] experimented on speeding up the recovery of wounded soldiers, on curing syphilis with fasting, and on various other projects to help the war effort.

The Dachau concentration camp housed the largest plantation of medicinal herbs in Germany.

Dr Madaus (founder of the still existing company for natural medicines by the same name) experimented on the sterilisation of humans with herbal and homeopathic remedies, a project that was deemed of great importance for controlling the predicted population growth in the East of the expanding Reich.

Dr Grawitz infected Dachau prisoners with various pathogens to test the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies.

Schuessler salts were also tested on concentration camp inmates.

So, why bring all of this up today? Is it not time that we let grass grow over these most disturbing events? I think not! For many years, I actively researched this area (you can find many of my articles on Medline) because I am convinced that the unprecedented horrors of Nazi medicine need to be told and re-told – not just on HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY, but continually. This, I hope, will minimize the risk of such incredible abuses ever happening again.

55 Responses to The Holocaust and Nazi (alternative) medicine

  • Well, being from Germany, such memorial days are not so very easy to digest. Of course, one inkling is something like ‘I did not do it, all of the individualls that were involved are dead today, so leave us alone with this. All the European nations have had their dark spots in history, the Germans are just unlucky to have the most recent. So leave me alone with it, these people would be dead by now anyway.’

    But, on second thought, there is much more to think about on such a day:

    I guess, that in the 1930s the average German was not so very different in thinking than any other European. Of course there was nationalism and the shame of the lost war – but in my reasoning this was not very diffeent from the settings in other nations. So what did happen? First culmination point was the ‘Reichskrstallnacht’ (November 9th, 1938) where all over Germany jewish shops and Synagogues were demolished, burned down, people harrassed and such. And on it went to murdering millions of people in concentration camps.

    Can this be the work of only a few people going unknown to the majority of the German population? No, it cannot. We have to consider not only the guards and SS actually performing the atrocities. Just think of the trains that ran through Germany bound for Dachau, Belsen or Ausschwitz fully loaded with people. Those operating the trains, doing the shunting, maintaining the wagons, they must have known or guessed what was going on. And the bankers dealing with former Jewish wealth. And… and… and… In fact i cannot but help to think that very many Germans must have been aware of what was going on – and did tolerate it.

    Can we think of a handful of villains taking a whole nation out of the middle of Europe and turn it to commit or tolerate such atrocities? No, we cannot. To my mind it is impossible for just a few people to turn the opinion and emotion of a whole nation of 60,000,000 people into the opposite. So the conclusion is, that there must have been some underlying current, some hatred, fury, frustration or whatever notion that has the potential to make people lose their humanity. Something that was not thought of much in the beginning, but could be turned into a big flood in the end.

    And here we come to the real impact of such a memorial day. It is the command to make sure this does never happen again. But, we need not look at some foreign fanatics, some demagogical leaders or other individuals. It is ourselves we have to watch out for! it was people that started out like you and me and finally turned into the demons they were. So, start to keep a watch on the dark beast within yourself. Being lucky enough not to be right in the middle of such turmoil is no proof that we are immune to it. Keeping ones own good judgement on things, not to follow stereotypical thinking, even if it is more simple than to gather information and build ones own opinion. And many other things that may be needed not to turn into a piece of a mob.

    Okay, sorry, for being off topic.
    But this topic is important to me. Hope my English is good enough to convey my meaning in the right tone.

    • thank you!
      i know how difficult it is to write or speak about this as a German [i am not sure that i count myself as a German, and the Nazis-history is an important part in the explanation for this]

    • Herr Aust

      Your English is more than adequate. Thank you very much for what you said.

      You will probably be aware that Gordon W Allport studied the nature of prejudice and where it leads and produced his ‘Ladder of Prejudice’ in his book The Nature of Prejudice in 1954 (which is still available):

      1. Antilocution: Antilocution means a majority group freely make jokes about a minority group. Speech is in terms of negative stereotypes and negative images. This is also called hate speech. It is commonly seen as harmless by the majority. Antilocution itself may not be harmful, but it sets the stage for more severe outlets for prejudice. (e.g. Ethnic jokes)

      2. Avoidance: Members of the majority group actively avoid people in a minority group. No direct harm may be intended, but harm is done through isolation. (e.g. Social exclusion)

      3. Discrimination: Minority group is discriminated against by denying them opportunities and services and so putting prejudice into action. Behaviors have the specific goal of harming the minority group by preventing them from achieving goals, getting education or jobs, etc. The majority group is actively trying to harm the minority. (e.g. Jim Crow laws, Apartheid, Koreans in Japan)

      4. Physical Attack: The majority group vandalize, burn or destroy minority group property and carry out violent attacks on individuals or groups. Physical harm is done to members of the minority group. Examples are lynchings of blacks, pogroms against Jews in Europe and British Loyalists in the 1700s.

      5. Extermination: The majority group seeks extermination or removal of the minority group. They attempt to eliminate either the entire or a large fraction of a group of people (e.g., Indian Wars to remove Native Americans, American lynchings, Final Solution to the “Jewish Question” in Germany, the Rwandan Genocide, and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia).

      It is so sad – and very worrying – that we still see all steps on this ladder in the world today. It starts with the first step and that is exactly where we must all work to prevent prejudice taking even one further step.

    • Norbert, I think this could have happened anywhere in similar circumstances. People will follow the crowd and dont like to rock the boat. Its not even 50 years ago there was segregation in the US, Apartheid in South Africa, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Jimmy Johnson in Guiana, Pinochet in chile, the middle east etc etc. I think it was Stalin who said one dead person is a tragedy, 50,000 is a statistic. Its a question I often ask myself , when I meet people I dont like, I wonder what they would have done had they lived in Nazi Germany. I hope I would have been like the young German activist Sophie Scholl, I know my mother would have been like Sophie. Irish Folk singer Christy Moore dedicate this song to my moms memory, I think you will like it and for me its why the Nazis were larely unopposed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1divI2HcVPM

      • Very impressive song.

        I wonder what they would have done had they lived in Nazi Germany.

        No. It is the fear what I might have done if I had lives in Nazi Germany!
        I am not a young man any more so I know a thing or two about life – and I am happy that I was not tested.

        From my safe armchair it is very easy to think of myself as being a hero, but I think it is a very big difference if you actually have to face the situation. And think about the not so heroic stance but the petty everyday problems, what your position would be if you have a family, need your job, want your son or daughter to go to the university….

        • Yes, you are right. The vigilance has to start with ourselves… I agree that those of us who have grown up in peaceful times are very lucky. We need to ensure that we uphold and defend peace and safety and equality. The particular hellishness of the Nazi exterminations is beyond our imagination but its beginnings are not. Discrimination, stereotyping, anti-immigrant remarks, antisemitism -unbelievably- are still with us, like a disease waiting for the right conditions to decimate the host. The obsession with hygiene, nature, scouting movement, the past, the countryside, ´the people´ etc opposed to modernism, the city, intellect and multiculturalism-internationalism is a trend in Catalonia that freaks me out. It LOOKS ´natural´´ecological´ sustainable´etc etc but FEELS creepy. Thanks for a brilliant article reminding us that the roots of Nazism were
          about ´purity´and ´health´long before they were about mass murder.

  • tricky ONE THIS , A VERY EMOTIONAL AND EMOTIVE SUBJECT, ALL I CAN ASK IS “Was it only the Nazi’s who were practicing Alternative medicine or was it thousands of Americans ,Canadians, people in China , Japan, Asia, Australia etc?….
    The darkness happens when pure genius is put into wrong use.
    We cannot demonize all people who practice Complementary and Alternative medicine …this is what you seem to be doing,
    I AM RESEARCHING CAM to help people
    SADDENED
    Dr Dominic

  • German nurses also played a part in assisting the euthanasia, which is almost more difficult to understand since they lived in the institutions and must have known the patients well. Their complicity must have made such programs much easier to run since nurses are generally very trusted by patients and patients feel dependent on them.

    It is hard to believe that homeopathy has survived to this day. Would not treating patients with this nostrum constitute a violation of the Nuremberg Code because of the deceit involved?

  • As an American Jew who appreciates evidence, truth, and skepticism, and as one who has several German speaking friends and has traveled a bit in Germany and Aaustria, I deeply appreciate the sentiments expressed here by Dr Ernst and Mr. Aust. Germany has faced its demons in ways that other countries have rarely equaled, including the United States.

    Thank you Edzaed Ernst for all your hard work and for your willingness to continuously engage and battle against ignorance and pseudoscience. If only a few homeopaths, acupuncturists, and other Alt med practitioners can be convinced by scientific method and a proper appreciation of P-values and logical fallacies, then it’s all worth it!

    • thank you.
      it is comments like yours that keep me going.

    • “Thank you Edzaed Ernst for all your hard work and for your willingness to continuously engage and battle against ignorance and pseudoscience. If only a few homeopaths, acupuncturists, and other Alt med practitioners can be convinced by scientific method and a proper appreciation of P-values and logical fallacies, then it’s all worth it!”……..strawman …..obviously alt med practitioners are interested in scientific method…….where did you get the strange idea that hey were not.

      • i don’t think you have understood what straw-man means

      • obviously alt med practitioners are interested in scientific method…….where did you get the strange idea that hey were not.

        From their persistant preference for cherry-picked positive results, anecdotal accounts, customer testimonials and the like over properly conducted research.

      • “…obviously alt med practitioners are interested in scientific method…….”

        Interested only superficially, and only for the purpose of obfuscation and manipulation.
        The give away is in the terminology – “alternative medicine”. there is by definition no such thing as alternative medicine. There is no science of alternative medicine, and any insistence that “alternative medicine” exists is itself an admission of an anti-science position.
        There is only medicine and “not-medicine”. What you call “alternative medicine” is “not-medicine”. It is not science. The “alt med practitioners” interest in science is only to steal its clothes in order to delude the non-scientific public. In the real world (as opposed to the alternative world) this is known as fraud. The interest in science, therefore, is in order to perpetuate a fraud.

  • Well Prof to what lengths will you go to denigrate alternative medicine even trying to associate Alternative Medicine with Nazi atrocities? Unbelievable!! You try suggest that alt med was complicit in committing crimes against humanity when it was nearly 100% committed y medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies. I am an alt med practitioner and to suggest that I am some how associated with Nazi atrocities is repulsive and completely ridiculous. This actually makes my blood boil. My grand father was classified as ‘Voll Jude’ (Full Jew) and my father and aunt as ‘Mischung’ ( Mixture – meaning not 100% Aryan)….my grandmother was a Lutheran. My grandfather fled Germany in 1936 as a result of anti Semitism and settled In South West Africa (now Namibia) leaving his family behind in Germany to endure the next 14 years before being re-united in Cape Town, South Africa in 1950. My great aunt died in Auschwitz. So when you try create some misguided impression that alt med is somehow associated with Nazi atrocities this makes my blood boil especial when in fact it was the MEDICAL PROFESSION and the PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES who were almost 100% responsible for these outrageous crimes. Farber supplied the gas that killed millions of Jews and this company lives on as Bayer and Hoechst and others. These criminal companies are supported around the world by medical doctors to this day who prescribe their drugs and you try associate alt med with Nazi atrocities!! It was the pharmaceutical companies who were the greatest donors who put Hitler into power not the producers of herbal and homeopathic remedies!

    In fact there is a theory that it was the Pharmaceutical companies that started WW2 and Hitler was their front man to get world dominance so that every human on earth would be a customer of Big Pharma. The Bush family was part of this cartel to get a world wide monopoly. You seem to support this agenda as evidenced by your sustained witch hunt to discredit alt med and finally destroy alt med so that Big Pharma and the medical profession will have a worldwide monopoly. Obviously you will ridicule this idea. I have included a link to Dr Rath who you will no doubt consider to be a quack but in the light of your ridiculous assertions regarding alt med I think his articles are appropriate.

    By the way Prof you have contradicted yourself when you claimed that the Nazis embraced alt med. You said: “Heilpraktiker were not allowed to train students and their profession was thus meant to become extinct within one generation; Goebbels spoke of having created the cradle and the grave of the Heilpraktiker”. So did the Nazis embrace alt med?? It seems not!!

    Well Prof if you tried to associate alt med with Nazi atrocities I think you failed miserably. In fact it is clearly that Big Pharma and conventional medicine is guilty of one of the most heinous crimes ever committed against humanity.

    • how very sad that you did not understand the meaning of this post!

      • So Prof please explain especial as the title to your post is: “The Holocaust and Nazi (alternative) medicine.”

        • The way you leap to defend yourself against a non-existent accusation speaks volumes. Every post displays your inability or unwillingness to think scientifically or logically. Keep it up.

    • By the way Prof you have contradicted yourself when you claimed that the Nazis embraced alt med. You said: “Heilpraktiker were not allowed to train students and their profession was thus meant to become extinct within one generation; Goebbels spoke of having created the cradle and the grave of the Heilpraktiker”. So did the Nazis embrace alt med?? It seems not!!

      So the whole basis of your suggestion that Nazis embraced alt med is discounted by an exert from your own article. Please comment.

      • the plan was that, after one generation, all doctors would practice alt med and thus the heilpraktiker would no longer be needed. a contradiction only in your mind!

        • Neat side step Prof but not good enough. The point was whether Nazis embraced alt med as you claimed but then passed the Heilpraktiker law with the intention to destroy it. Now you seem to be claiming that all doctors in Nazi Germany would become alt med medical doctors. Seriously?! Why would the Nazis need to pass a law for Heilpraktikers to get rid of Heilpraktikers so that medical doctors could practice alt med? This explanation sounds rather strange. The Nazis did not have any problems passing any kind of draconian laws to commit atrocities but they were too afraid of a couple of Heilpraktikers so they had to go about incorporating alt med into conventional medicine by first passing a law for Heilpraktikers. MMmmmmm……I find this difficult to accept Prof.

          • especially taking into account the ‘special’ relationship they had with Big Pharma…oops there I go again!!

          • yes, i know, you often seem to find the truth difficult to accept. just read up about the history before you go on about things you clearly do not know!

          • Prof said….’yes, i know, you often seem to find the truth difficult to accept. just read up about the history before you go on about things you clearly do not know!’……

            I still do not accept your theory why the Nazis passed a Heilpraktiker law to destroy alt med practitioners in Nazi Germany. Firstly the Nazis could have just banned Heilpraktikers from practising. Or the Nazis could have sent the Heilpraktikers to Auschwitz like they did to the Jews, Gypsies, and other forms of ‘Untermensch’. Or the medical doctors could have just practised alt med anyway despite the fact that Heilpraktikers existed in the same way as German medical doctors practise alt med today like Homeopathy and Chirotherapie after completing some weekend courses.

    • I will go out of my way not to use or purchase Bayer or Hoechst products. Big Pharma is still trying to kill us,just lookat the fatal side effects on medicaation commercials. There are actully cures and preventions for almost every major illness but they are kept underlock and key so that Big Pharma could profit!!!

      • from the cover of: “BAD PHARMA by Ben Goldacre
        How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients

        Medicine is broken. While patients trust that their drugs are safe and regulated, and doctors attempt to prescribe the most effective cures, the global pharmaceutical industry is a $600 billion business rife with corruption and greed.

        Doctors and patients need good scientific evidence to make informed decisions. But companies run biased trials on their own drugs, which distort and exaggerate the results. Unflattering data is simply buried. Government regulators withhold vitally important information. Seemingly independent doctor and patient groups are funded by the drugs industry. The result of all this inevitable: patients are harmed, unnecessarily, in huge numbers.

        Ben Goldacre is Britain’s finest writer on the science behind medicine, and Bad Pharma is a clear and witty attack, showing exactly how the science has been distorted.

        WARNING: THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY HAS SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS.

        These include: flawed clinical trials followed by the suppression of unfavourable results, poor regulation, diseases invented purely for profit, swollen marketing budgets, doctors and academics in the pay of pill manufacturers.”

        “This shocking book shows how people have suffered and died because the medical profession has allowed industry’s interests to trump patients’ interests. Sir Iain Chalmers, Founder of the Cochrane Library”

        • Sorry for the necromancing. But I feel important to add this precision for any future readers :
          it’s interesting that martin cites Ben Goldacre… when his stance on alternative medicine is just as critical (if not more) than his stance on Big Pharma.
          “Repeat after me: pharma being shit does not mean magic beans cure cancer.”

  • This is the article I was referring to:

    The most powerful German economic corporate emporium in the first half of this century was the Interessengemeinschaft Farben or IG Farben, for short. Interessengemeinschaft stands for “Association of Common Interests” and was nothing more than a powerful cartel of BASF, Bayer, Hoechst, and other German chemical and pharmaceutical companies. IG Farben was the single largest donor to the election campaign of Adolph Hitler. One year before Hitler seized power, IG Farben donated 400,000 marks to Hitler and his Nazi party. Accordingly, after Hitler’s seizure of power, IG Farben was the single largest profiteer of the German conquest of the world, the Second World War.

    Read About:

    The Birth of I.G. Farben and the Support for Hitler
    I.G. Farben and the Auschwitz Concentration Camp
    Medical Experiments in Auschwitz Conducted by I.G. Farben
    The Nuremberg War Tribunal
    The Disgraced Managers of I.G. Farben
    From “Arbeit macht frei” to “Codex Alimentarius”
    Literature

    Zyklon-B, an extermination gas produced by Hoechst, was used to kill millions of innocent people, before their corpses were burnt

    One hundred percent of all explosives and of all synthetic gasoline came from the factories of IG Farben. Whenever the German Wehrmacht conquered another country, IG Farben followed, systematically taking over the industries of those countries. Through this close collaboration with Hitler’s Wehrmacht, IG Farben participated in the plunder of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, France and all other countries conquered by the Nazis.

    The U.S. government’s investigation of all the factors leading to the Second World War in 1946 came to the conclusion that without IG Farben the Second World War would simply not have been possible. We have to come to grips with the fact that it was not the psychopath, Adolph Hitler, or bad genes of the German people that brought about the Second World War. Economic greed by companies like Bayer, BASF and Hoechst was the key factor in bringing about the Holocaust.

    • borderline off topic.
      the post is about the medical profession and not about the chemical industry.

    • No, sorry to contradict you, but this is wrong, at least a wrong perception of things.

      Of course IG Farben was a powerful company and it did benefit from WW2. But this holds true for quite a lot of German companies as well. Name a producing company with a history reaching before WW2 and you have a company that did profit from war production. Siemens, Mercedes, MAN, AEG, BMW, Maybach, Maffei, Henschel, Krupp, Thyssen, Bosch, Messerschmidt, whatever you like. Maybe IG Farben was the foremost donator in Hitler’s campaign, but all (!) leading companbies of all (!) times and all (!) nations join forces with the leading political movement and Germany was no exception. And they all seized profit from what could be had from conquered countries: forced labor, raw materials, production facilities, whatever. It is a very unpleasant part of our and our industry’s history, but still there it is. That only a few cases are well looked into by post war investigations does not mean these few organisations were the only ones participating in it.

      The statement, that the war would have been impossible without IG Farben is nonsense. It is pushing the ‘Big Pharma Paranoia’ too far. Of course, gun powder is produced in gunpowder factories which are chemical factories. And it is obvious, that any war would have been impossible, if gun powder would not have been available. But this holds true for any production or service that is needed to keep an army going. If there would have been no tanks, submarines, fighter airplanes, steel to build all these, soldiers’ boots, uniforms, firearms, ammunition, mashinery to produce all these, ground transportation to bring it all to the field and a good many other things needed in modern warfare, if any Item of all these products would not have been available, then the war would have been impossible as well.

      As I said IG Farben may have been an important wheel to keep the German war time production and economy going, but by far not most important one. And Putting it all to their resposibility alone is too simple an approach and in that it is wrong. And I hate the approach to blame a single entity, which does not exist any more. This may make us blind for the ‘ladder of prejudice’ lurking in anybody of ourselves.

  • read the concluding paragraph:
    So, why bring all of this up today? Is it not time that we let grass grow over these most disturbing events? I think not! For many years, I actively researched this area (you can find many of my articles on Medline) because I am convinced that the unprecedented horrors of Nazi medicine need to be told and re-told – not just on HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY, but continually. This, I hope, will minimize the risk of such incredible abuses ever happening again

  • Yes Prof but your article did not just consist of the concluding paragraph. Just the title suggests an association of Alternative Medicine with Nazi atrocities…..thats what I find repugnant. Of course I agree with your final paragraph.

  • i am sorry to say that i find myself trashing comments that have been submitted to this and other posts.
    if, for instance, someone accuses a group of individuals of “total disregard for the law and human life”, i will not post it.
    please read what i have posted under RULES [top bar on this page].

  • …..and to “DR ALFRED DONINIC BORDA” i can only re-iterate my question about his title; until his matter is clarified, i will not post anymore comments by him.

  • When I said in a previous post that you make up rules to win the argument unfairly I was not referring to the risk/benefit principle which you and your mates falsely accused me of. For instance your hugely biased moderation is what I was referring to. You and your ‘sceptic’ friends can use any ad homs you like eg accusing me of being paranoid, claiming I lacked understanding, that I was not capable of a reasonable and logical discussion, the chiro world of make believe, bogus treatments, woo woo, frauds, etc. You even stoop so low to suggest alt med is associated with Nazi atrocities! There clearly is not an even playing field. Where is ethics and integrity? To me your blog is just a front for alt med bashing. Your agenda is by any means available to persuade the public to abandon alt med. The ‘science’ stuff, the evidenced based science is nothing but a smokescreen to continue your dirty work. Guess what Prof Ernst….I dont care whether you delete my posts, ban me from your blog if you like. But I will continue to defend alt med with the same tenacity that you display in your witch hunt to destroy alt med in your quest to create a medical monopoly ( you share something in common with the Nazis).

  • If this is a way to promote scientific work, it is a sad story. It is a sad story anyway. But to me this reads like a way of mixing a sad story with a personal fight against alternative medicine, claiming one is doing scientific work.
    The result is the misunderstanding of what it takes to be scientific.

    Here opinion rules as in much of your work, references are lacking or refering to your own work!
    Pure subjective and not stimulating any further research.

    If your aim is to put down alternative medicine you probably do not get it, it is too late, the world has advanced beyond that stage. Alternative medicine is growing despite your effort.

    If your aim is to promote science, I am sad you seem not to have the competencies.

    Feel free to delete this post, I have deleted the blog on the list of blogs worth reading.

    • references are provided in my original articles which the post quotes from.
      the aim of the post was not at all what you assume; “alternative” is in brackets as you may have noticed.
      to judge my competence as a scientict, please read my science, e.g. published peer-reviewed journal-articles and not my blog.

    • Clearly did not even read the opening para.

  • Hey Prof you state:’the aim of the post was not at all what you assume; “alternative” is in brackets as you may have noticed.’

    But in your article you state:

    ‘It is well-documented that alternative medicine was strongly supported by the Nazis.’

    So now are you trying to tell us that the word ‘alternative’ in the title was not referring to alternative medicine but something else?? Come on Prof…’but I found several hints and indications that the criminal experiments of Nazi doctors also involved alternative medicine’. So what ‘alternative’ in brackets in the title were you referring to?

    • i did put the brackets because most of the article and most of my research on Nazi medicine relates to conventional medicine; only the last part is about alt med and the fact that it was sadly also involved. this is in my view important because the general but erroneous perception is that it wasn’t.

  • Dear professor Ernst,
    Thank you for writing such an informative article. I am a regular viewer of your blog, usually because it has something to say about alternative medicine (you are a professor of comp alternative medicine and a scholar of science). Low and behold I was surprised by the title of your most recent post – this one. “The holocaust and Nazi (alternative) medicine” certainly catches the eye with a certain Je ne sais quoi. Surely professor Ernst’s blog is not going to reduce to comparing Nazism and the holocaust to alternative medical disciplines? I was thankful that you didn’t, at least not so blatantly. To anyone reading this blog ill-versed in your former works, they might be correct in the assumption that professor Ernst has written about the (alternative) practices of medicine during the period of 1938 and 1945 in Germany. How it went against everything medicine stands for – the hippocratic oath, ethics, patient centred care, empathy, by orchestrating mass “euthanasia” amongst those deemed unfit for human life. How humans were experimented on like bacteria in a Petri dish. Atrocities of human suffering and the like. (Pseudo) scientific research. (Pseudo) medicine, and the popularity of alternative medicine in Germany. What the reader fails to distinguish is that you make mere subtle difference between cruel human medical (scalpels, chemicals, psychology, poisons, pain, surgery) experimentation performed by those who held a medical degree and under duress (the Nazi (alternative) medicine bit), and alternative medicine – homeopathy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy, etc. performed by heilpraktiker. One might easily be mistaken to think that these two things are one in the same, and that both had equal role in the suffering of millions. One might deduce that the Nazi (alternative) medicine of which you refer is the same as alternative medicine today. After all you are a professor of alternative medicine are you not? Is the author not an authority on alternative medicine? And here he is comparing the torturous actions of Nazi Germany between 1938 and 1945, and “(alternative) medicine”. Perhaps I’ve read too much into this article, but it seems that the author feels that the practice of alternative medicine and not (alternative) medicine was responsible for the aforementioned atrocities. Too strong? “Criminal experimentations of Nazi doctors also involved alternative medicine…” Like that’s the same.

    While you might assert that your audience has misunderstood your message in this post, you as the author have the responsibility of the interpretation by your readers. I too sympathise with those deeply effected by such a regime, and the many regimes since. But let us not forget the context of this article on this blog by this author and the intentions of this article on this blog by this author. To systematically vilify all alternative medicine.

    As for the syllogistic logic of “medicine is medicine, therefore alternative medicine can’t be medicine”. Alternative medicine is a discipline within the purview of medical practice as defined by any good dictionary – practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. The reason it is described as alternative is merely semantics – an alternative to drugs and surgery. An alternative to brute force fixing. An alternative to putting sickness above health.

  • i am sorry that some have misunderstood the message of this blog and the reason why i wrote it.
    i did certainly not want to engage in the GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION fallacy.
    here is the truth:
    i have had a research interest in nazi medicine and published about it.
    in the course of these activities, i discovered that, contrary to what most people seem to assumue, alt med was involved as well. so i published this too many years ago.
    this blog was simply and purely aimed at re-telling this story because it deserves to be re-told, in my view.
    i regret that some people have read things into it which i did not intend.

  • Action T4 has an insidious effect even today. The German people were so appalled when they learned of it that great care was taken to avoid, as much as possible, any documentary reference to the Endlösung – the output from the pivotal Wannsee Conference shows this quite clearly.

    This lack of documentary evidence is exploited today by holocaust deniers, abusing the effects of public outrage at one atrocity to try to deny another, worse atrocity.

    Obviously one must be careful, in discussing the Nazis, not to invoke Godwin’s Law, and any mention of the Nazis inevitably gives scope for those in denial to dismiss what you write. As a film fan, if I think about propaganda films then the canonical example is Triumph des Willens; it is with this that I inevitably compare the Burzynski movies, for example.

    But you make the case well. It does seem that promoters of alternatives-to-medicine were less than scrupulous in choosing their bedfellows, sensing an opportunity for some form of legitimacy. It is fair to castigate psychiatrists for their uncritical collaboration, and it is fair to castigate alties as well.

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