Myma Goldenberg


In Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus, Naomi Baumslag proposes an agenda for research on the connections among medicine, war, and genocide. Building on the groundbreaking work of Robert Jay Lifton, John J. Michalczyk, Howard Fertig, Arthur Caplan, Henry Friedlander, and others, Baumslag sets out to prove that the Nazis rewarded physicians who helped implement the Final Solution, specifically by encouraging the spread of typhus as a means of murdering Jews. By imposing and then neglecting deplorable conditions in the ghettos and camps, Baumslag argues, Nazi doctors ‘‘promoted typhus . . . because ‘natural death’ was cheaper than gassing’’ (57). Baumslag demonstrates that Nazi medicine distinguished itself by its unprecedented and willing complicity in murdering Jews: the German and Austrian ‘‘medical profession as a whole perpetrated and tolerated without protest such widespread atrocities as were performed by German health professionals and researchers during World War II’’ (126). In her analysis of Nazi medicine, Baumslag catalogs bogus and unethical experiments, largely funded by I.G. Farben, to test typhus vaccines, each experiment more sadistic than the last. She also provides insights into other non-typhus-related experiments and vivisections, aptly labeling them ‘‘scientific butchery.’’ Interestingly, as has been repeatedly acknowledged by medical historians and ethicists, Nazi medicine ‘‘produced not a single new cure and not a single important medical discovery’’ (163).