New Partnership to Develop Holocaust Education Programming for Medical Community

Fri, 07/30/2021 - 5:14pm

USC Shoah Foundation and the Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust are partnering to develop new and innovative educational programing on medical ethics and the Holocaust.

The Holocaust marked a profound and sadistic deviation from traditional notions of medical ethics, with medical and scientific communities in the Third Reich actively participating in the labeling, persecution and eventual mass murder of millions deemed “unfit.”

The new partnership will create a clearinghouse for resources and tools for education and research related to medicine, ethics, and the Holocaust, making it a first of its kind in the field. Because educating and training medical and health professionals on the history of the Holocaust can serve as a safeguard to prevent a recurrence of what has been labeled the only example of medically sanctioned genocide in history. the partnership will also aim to engage with additional partners over the next year. In doing so, additional relevant and dynamic content and resources will be accessible.

Key components of the partnership will be development of testimony-based online curriculum on medicine, ethics, and the Holocaust aligned with medical and health professions curricula. As such, the resources will be of particular interest to medical and health professions faculty, as well as those seeking continuing education credits in the health professions.

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Jewish survivor Magda Blau on Forced Sterilizations

A range of human story-centered teaching and learning resources based on content from USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive and MIMEH’s expertise and deep archive of historically-grounded content on bioethics and the Holocaust will be at the core of the educational resources produced by the partnership. An IWitness webpage ( co-curated by the partnership will also be launched.

Stephen Smith, Finci-Viterbi executive director of USC Shoah Foundation, described the rationale for the partnership.

“Nazi ideology warped medical ethics which led to horrendous atrocities perpetrated by so-called physicians against Jewish victims,” he said. “Testimony of Holocaust survivors humanizes our understanding of what happens when bioethics are corrupted. Our partnership with MIMEH will advance education and research in this vital area of study.”

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Jewish survivor Stephanie Heller on Camp Medical Experiments

Dr. Stacy Gallin, Founding Director of the Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust and the Co-Chair of the Department of Bioethics and the Holocaust of the International Chair of Bioethics, described how testimony from the Visual History Archive will help inform—and humanize—the medical curriculum.

“Incorporating the diverse VHA testimony allows us to use the lessons of the past to help foster a personal and professional ethos within healthcare that values the protection of human rights and the central principles of equality, justice, and human dignity for all,” Gallin said. “It also allows us to restore some of the dignity and humanity that were lost at the hands of Nazi medicine.”

In understanding the importance of using testimony from the Holocaust in health professions education, Dr. Aria Razfar, Professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois Chicago and affiliate faculty in the Department of Medical Education, where he co-directed the joint PhD program in curriculum studies with emphasis in health education adds: “This important partnership will provide health professionals with critically needed and innovative testimony-based teaching and learning resources that I know will contribute enormously to the field of narrative medicine, and remind us of the value of grounding our practice historically to improve practice and ultimately, patient care in the present.”

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Jewish survivor Thomas Bardy on Medical Experiments