Welcome to the Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust (MIMEH). I’d like to take this opportunity to give you a bit of background on who we are, how we got here, and what we hope to accomplish. First and foremost, MIMEH is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational programming for those in the fields of healthcare and human rights regarding the ways in which the medical community actively participated in the labeling, persecution, and eventual mass murder of those deemed unfit in Nazi Germany and its relevance for modern medical practice, scientific theory, healthcare policy, and human rights endeavors.
People often ask me why I chose to dedicate myself to this cause. The answer is simple: I am the child of parents who taught by example that every human life has value. I am the relative of ancestors who were killed in the Holocaust simply because they were Jewish. I am the parent of children whom I hope grow up in a better world. I am a citizen who believes that it is my duty to carry on the legacy of those who perished during the Holocaust by working to create a society where the promise of scientific and societal progress never overshadows the importance of the bioethical principles of justice, beneficence, and respect for all people.
Throughout my life, I have been taught about the horrors that took place in Nazi Germany, but I never fully understood how it all happened. Why were certain groups targeted for extermination? Why did so many people willingly participate in genocide? As I continued through my doctoral program in Medical Humanities, I developed more questions. How did physicians who took an oath in which they promised to heal the sick and vulnerable ruthlessly murder so many innocent victims? How did they perform torturous “experiments” on children and then go home and tuck their own kids in each night? However, the most troubling question that has continued to plague me throughout my life has always been this: Why did so many people remain silent in the face of these crimes against humanity?
We at MIMEH refuse to remain silent. Exploring the abrogation of medical ethics that took place during the Holocaust is not merely a history lesson. It is the foundation for the development of the ethical treatment of vulnerable populations throughout the world. The Holocaust is a unique example of medically sanctioned genocide; however incidents in which the power of medicine and technology has been abused in an effort to subvert individual human rights in favor of the “good of society” are all too common. Our goal is to use the Holocaust as the historical framework for exploring current human rights abuses in vulnerable populations and examine the ways in which minority cultures have been subjected to unethical medical practices under the guise of scientific progress.
Please take some time to peruse our website and learn more about our organization. We will be offering a variety of unique programming, including free online web conferences open to the public and offered to physicians, nurses, and pharmacists for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits. Visit our site frequently, participate in our programs, and—most importantly—become part of our community by reaching out to let us know what you would like to see offered. Together, we can refuse to remain silent. We can make our voices heard, and we can speak for those who can no longer do so. We can honor the memory of the millions of people who lost their lives during the Holocaust by creating a Righteous Medicine that instills a personal and professional ethos valuing the sanctity of human life first and foremost. Please join us in our quest to reflect upon the past to protect the future.