German scientists who studied euthanasia victims’ brains “were very good researchers of international standing.”
Could it happen again? Compare what we reported two days ago from Nature with a report by Megan Gannon in Science. You may never see a more glaring case of cognitive dissonance than Big Science’s convoluted attitudes about medical experimentation on the helpless.
We reported Nature’s callous disregard for the lives of the unborn, and their hostile attacks on those who try to save millions of unborn babies from being killed without mercy so that their parts can be chopped up and sold to “researchers” for experimentation. But in Gannon’s report, Big Science in America and in Germany are now exhibiting holy remorse for the evils that occurred 80 years ago in Nazi Germany, when the Reich killed a mere 200,000 deemed unfit. Scientists of the day welcomed the victims’ brains and body parts for their research interests. Gannon says that Germany’s Max Planck Institute (MPG), which was complicit with the “medical research” in Nazi days, is now, going to extraordinary lengths – in a form of institutional penance – to uncover details of individuals who were killed, so that their personal stories can be told.
The project’s impetus is MPG’s desire to take moral responsibility for unethical research that its forerunner, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (KWG), conducted on euthanasia victims and their remains. “We want to find out who the victims were, uncover their biographies and their fates, and as such give them part of their human dignity back and find an appropriate way of remembrance,” says Heinz Wässle, an emeritus director of the neuroanatomy department at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Germany, and head of an MPG committee overseeing the new investigation.
In the 1980s and 1990s, MPG and KWG buried much of the evidence as a dubious token of “respect for the victims.” Those actions, however, destroyed chances of reconstructing the individual stories of those who perished. Now, however, additional slides of brain scans from victims have come to light. The MPG feels that up to 5,000 victims can finally have their stories told. Gannon opens with one such story that puts a human face on an otherwise unknown victim:
Soon after Hans-Joachim was born, it was clear that something was terribly wrong. The infant boy suffered from partial paralysis and spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy. In 1934, when he was 5 years old, his parents admitted him to an asylum in Potsdam, Germany, where clinical records described Hans-Joachim as a “strikingly friendly and cheerful” child. But his condition did not improve. He spent a few years at a clinic in Brandenburg-Görden, Germany, and then, on an early spring day in 1941, he was “transfered to another asylum at the instigation of the commissar for defense of the Reich”—code words meaning that Hans-Joachim, then 12, was gassed at a Nazi “euthanasia” center. His brain was sent to a leading neuropathologist.
This euthanasia center at Hadamar was toured by Ben Stein in the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. In the documentary, the tour guide explains that the Nazis justified their atrocities with Darwinism.
But what kind of scientists would engage in the ghastly research of studying brains from children and adults they knew had been murdered by the state? Gannon answers with perhaps the most disturbing part of the story:
The historians also hope to gain a better understanding of how unethical science was allowed to flourish in Nazi Germany. The scientists involved “were not bizarre and perverse psychopaths,” Roelcke says. “In the postwar period, they were very well integrated in German society. They were very good researchers of international standing. So what are the conditions under which these kinds of biomedical scientists are prepared to initiate or commit atrocities to further their research interests?”
Because Hallervorden and many other complicit scientists kept their positions after the war, Roelcke adds, probing MPG’s role during the Nazi era was long taboo, and the reluctance persisted long after the first investigations. Roelcke encountered resistance several years ago, when he attempted to document that Ernst Rüdin, the Nazi-era director of KWG’s Institute for Psychiatry in Munich, and the University of Heidelberg in Germany were involved in research on child euthanasia victims.
So here it is 2017 and the ghosts of Nazi medical experimentation are still haunting the world. The MPG continued to use victims’ brains for research “long after the war ended,” Gannon notes. The MPG did not initiate a comprehensive account of its wartime involvement until the late 1990s, and did not formally apologize till 2001. Gannon and Roelcke are gratified that the latest actions to are “an encouraging sign that MPG is ready to fully confront its past.”
“This is not only about ‘forgotten’ specimens, but the apparent whitewashing of the [MPG’s] darkest history and the failure to adequately respond to and to commemorate the tragic past.” —Martin Keck, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry
In America since Roe v Wade, over 58.5 million unborn babies have been killed. Why? Because they were inconvenient. Some had disabilities. Many were girls. In one way or another, they were deemed “unfit” and needed to be euthanized. Instead of gaining “a better understanding of how unethical science is allowed to flourish” in our day, Nature is angry that undercover videos last year showed the secret dealings between abortionists and “researchers” for prime baby body parts – in Nature’s terminology, “controversial materials.”
Read it and weep. It’s not hard to imagine scientists and ethicists of the future looking back in horror at our time, considering it a holocaust far greater than Hitler’s. The only difference is the age of the victims. We must remember the question: “What are the conditions under which these kinds of biomedical scientists are prepared to initiate or commit atrocities to further their research interests?”