The initiation of Dr. Tessa Chelouche, a well-known Israeli physician and scholar of medical history, to edit a book on the phenomenon of medical treatment and physicians’ behavior during the holocaust should be highly appreciated. The collection of the relevant data and its drawing out from the hidden archives should have been not only a complicated scientific mission, but also an incredibly difficult emotional experience.
It is told about Shimon Dubnov, the great Jewish historian, that when he was led, together with other Jews in Riga, to the execution, he turned to them, saying: “Remember, remember (in Yiddish: schreibt un verschreibt), write down everything”.
Remembering – what good will come of it?
Why should we conjure up ghosts? Why should we open the gas chambers, the Pandora box of torture and despair that the holocaust evokes?
Why should we gather every string of our strength in order to remember, when it hurts so much?
“If we look too intently in the direction of the dead”, Elie Wiesel said, “we run the risk of being tempted to join them”. Remembering is not an end in itself, it is only a tool. The use of this tool might be justified for one purpose only: NEVER AGAIN!
Not for the purpose of scientific recording, not for the purpose of glorifying the martyrs’ deaths. What’s done cannot be undone, and remembering dead will not bring them back. “Never again” calls for the survival of mankind, of humanity.
While reading the cases that have been collected by Tessa Chelouche, Geoffrey Brahmer and Susan Benedict, it is difficult to understand how a people could become a people of killers or accomplices of killers, and how the medical doctors could afflict such pain on human beings.
In the words of Elie Wiesel: “I don’t understand how it happened. And the more I live, the less I will understand. But I will go on learning, and that is another lesson- although we don’t understand, we must continue to learn”.
The Bioethics Chair (Haifa) was authorized by UNESCO to promote and advance the teaching of ethics in medical schools worldwide.
The Chair satisfies the need of teachers and students by producing and providing them with a series of guiding books of which this publication is one of them.
The formation of ethical codes and books is not enough until their implementation. Implementation means education.Bioethics and the Holocaust offers the understanding of the Holocaust phenomenon. The struggle with the insoluble question – how could it happen– may enable our students to realize the wish and the need of Never Again, and to fulfill the testament of :schreibt un verschreibt.
Prof. Amnon Carmi, Head
UNESCO Chair in Bioethics (Haifa)