The Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial

In 1946, 21-year-old Hedy Epstein joined the American military tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, as a research analyst. Her role was to search through thousands of records, to find, summarize and forward to the prosecution the documentary evidence they would need for trial. Twenty-three German physicians and administrators were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. The evidence told the story of unimaginable brutality, sheer evil, and, at times, Hedy became physically sick as she uncovered the evidence of what had happened to concentration camp inmates chosen for medical experiments.

Hedy spoke many times to medical students, medical professionals, and interested community members about her experience in Nuremberg, including details about the evidence that she and other analysts identified for the prosecution team. Hedy’s presentation, “Not to Heal, But to Destroy Was Their Aim,” was harrowing in its description of experiments performed by the physicians on concentration camp prisoners without their consent. She concluded her presentation by imploring the medical students:

You, as future doctors, must not forget this lesson.  As you enter the Hippocratic fellowship remember and be determined never to let such things happen again.  View your patients not as cases, nor as numbers tattooed on an arm, as the Nazis did, nor as a number on a chart or a wristband, but as human beings.

Hedy Epstein

Slides from Hedy’s presentations are in the gallery below: