Friday 25 November – Saturday 26 November 2011

Paris, Institut Goethe, 17 avenue d’Iéna, 75 116 Paris, France

Organisers :

  • Lise HADDAD (Hôpital St Louis, SRLF, Paris)
  • Jean-Marc DREYFUS (Centre for Jewish Studies, The University of Manchester, United Kingdom)
  • Dominique FOLSCHEID (University of Paris Est – Marne-la-Vallée)

With the support of the Paris municipality

All new medical techniques which raise complex and fundamental ethical questions are systematically avoided in Germany, despite the country’s status as one of the world’s foremost economic and scientific powers. “Obvious historical reasons” is the explanation given for this refusal, without these reasons ever being specified any further. Seemingly so “obvious” as to require no more exploration, these reasons relate to the terrible accounts of what are termed “medical crimes”.

It would seem that these crimes, legitimized and indeed committed by doctors, are the inescapable yet unmentionable basis of contemporary thought in the field of medical ethics. The impact of these crimes – Nazi crimes for the most part –on the western imagination and their role in shaping the developing horizons of medical thinking make it necessary to explain them more thoroughly today.

Historical researchers – mainly based in Germany and the United States – have in fact worked intensively on this subject over the last decade and have produced numerous publications, for the most part overlooked in France, shedding new light on whole areas of these dark chapters in European history. While the close relationship between the Nazi policy of “euthanasia” (in actual fact the systematic murder of psychiatric patients) and the Shoah has long been proved, in particular through the work of American historian Henry Friedlander, numerous other areas of research have been opened up, such as the ethical debates in 1930s Europe (including within the German Reich), the European reactions to the Nazi approach to medicine, the French resistance to euthanasia policies, the treatment of psychiatric patients in wartime, medical planning, research policies, etc. One particularly fertile area is the study of post-war trials.

Making this knowledge available to French ethicists and policy-makers would provide more than just a historical reminder: it would help to inform and enrich an urgent debate which is already well underway, dispelling the illusory notion that all of today’s questions are purely contemporary in origin, the result of recent technical advances.

The conference, organised for medical practitioners, members of ethics committees and anyone with an interest in the history of medicine, will deal with subjects to include but not be restricted to:

  • The spread of and the resistance to theories of eugenics
  • Medicine and indoctrination (doctors under Vichy, Nazi doctors, …)
  • The two faces of Nazi medicine : the medicine of killing and medical progress in the Reich
  • Medical experiments and post-war trials
  • The elaboration of the Nuremberg code and the conditions of its adoption and application
  • The memory of Nazi crimes in medical circles and its influence on ethical thought in the 1950s and 1960s

The conference will be mainly historical in focus but will also create opportunities to exchange insights derived from historical knowledge and their application to contemporary ethical thinking.

Working languages for the conference: French and English (with simultaneous translation)

A selection of papers to be published in French, and possibly English. The publishing house of the French version will be Vendémiaire, in Paris.


Friday 25 November 2011

9.00 – 9.30: Introduction by Lise Haddad, Jean-Marc Dreyfus and Dominique Folscheid

9.30 – 11.00: Theoretical Foundations

Chairperson: Dominique Folscheid (University of Paris East-Marne-la-Vallée)

  • Marino Pulliero ( CRIA, Paris, France): The dissemination of Darwinism in Germany
  • Carole Reynaud-Paligot (New York University à Paris): Eugenics and racial anthropology in France
  • Ulf Schmidt (University of Kent): Hitler's Doctor Karl Brandt: Medicine and Power in the Third Reich

11.00-11.30: Coffee break

11.30-13.00 Nazi medicine, medicine of death

Chairperson: Jean-Marc Dreyfus (University of Manchester, UK)

  • Kamila Uzarczyk (University of Wroclaw, Poland): "Why did you marry me anyway, you can't even have children". Voices of victims of sterilisation experiments in Auschwitz.
  • Susanne Heim (Institut für Zeitsgeschichte, Berlin): Nazified science? Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft under the Third Reich
  • Patricia Heberer (Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.): Operation T4, a utopia brought to accomplishment. The killing of the mentally ill in Germany, 1939-1945

1.00-2.30: Lunch

14.30-16.30: Imperfect justice

Chairperson: Eric Fiat (University of Paris East-Marne-la-Vallée)

  • Dick de Mildt (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands): The medical crimes trials in Germany
  • Annette Weinke (University of Jena, Germany: Doctors’ trials in the German Democratic Republic and in the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Constantin Goschler (University of the Ruhr in Bochum): German reparations (Wiedergutmachung) for the victims of forced sterilizations and of medical experiments

17h-18h00: Round table

Moderator : Lise HADDAD

With the participation of

  • Patricia HEBERER
  • Dick DE MILDT
  • Dominique FOLSCHEID


Saturday 26 November 2011

9.00-9.30: Second Day Welcome Remarks: Pr. Benoît Eurin (Saint-Louis Hospital, Paris, France)

9.30-11.30 Ethics after Nuremberg

Chairperson: Lise Haddad

  • Giorgio Israel (La Sapienza University, Rome, Italy): Eugenics and racial anthropology in Italy
  • Pr. François Lemaire (Hôpital Henri Mondor): The influence of Nuremberg on ethics and on the regulation of medical research in Europe and in the United States, 1945-1988
  • Jean-Marc Tétaz (University of Fribourg, Switzerland): Human frailty and the question of Good: ethical considerations on the limitations of consent
  • Carola Sachse, (University of Vienna, Austria): The meaning of apology. The survivors on Nazi medical crimes and the Max Planck Society (MPS)

11.30-13.00 Round Table: The relativism of ethics?

Chairperson: Giorgio Israel (La Sapienza, Rome)

  • Heinz Wismann (EHESS, Paris, France)
  • Eric Fiat (Institut Hannah Arendt, University of Marne-la-Vallée)
  • Didier Dreyfuss (Ethics committee, SRLF, University Paris-Diderot)