In DepthRESEARCH ETHICS

Germany to probe Nazi-era medical science

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Science  06 Jan 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6320, pp. 13
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6320.13

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Summary

During World War II, as part of its racial hygiene program, the Nazi regime systematically killed at least 200,000 people it classified as mentally ill or disabled, historians say. Now, a new initiative is seeking to reconstruct the biographies of victims used in brain research. Starting this month, the Max Planck Society (MPG), Germany's top basic research organization, will open its doors to four independent researchers who will scour its archives and tissue sample collections for material related to the Nazi "euthanasia" program. The project's impetus is MPG's desire to take moral responsibility for unethical research that its forerunner, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, conducted on euthanasia victims and their remains.

  • * Megan Gannon is a journalist in Berlin.