After Auschwitz
After Auschwitz
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After Auschwitz

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After Auschwitz: Reflections on the Future of Medicine

Since 2009, Peter Selg, along with Polish historians, has led seminars at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial on medical ethics for students from Witten/Herdecke University. This book was created following a public event to investigate the “lessons of Auschwitz” for the practice of medicine and society today and in the future.

In Auschwitz—the former German concentration and extermination camp—the focus of these seminars was to shed light on the role of German physicians of the Nazi regime and to commemorate individual victims. Nevertheless, the aim of Dr. Selg’s discussions goes far beyond the historical events of the 1930s and ’40s, using the legacy of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the inhumane medical practices of that time to instruct us today in ways to advance the most compassionate forms of medicine and our treatment of one another as human beings.

Originally published in German as Nach Auschwitz. Auseinandersetzungen um die Zukunft der Medizin by Verlag des Ita Wegman Instituts, Stuttgart, 2020.

C O N T E N T S:


1.   Survival after Auschwitz: Primo Levi and the Hope for Change

1. The Death of Primo Levi
2. The Road to Auschwitz
3. Monowitz Buna
4. Medicine and Leonardo De Benedetti
5. If This Is a Man
6. Social Repression and Reappraisal
7. Contemporary History and Holocaust Denial
8. The Difficult Life
9. The Drowned and the Saved
10. Despair

2    Medicine without Humanity: Alexander Mitscherlich and the Forces of Persistence   

1. The Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial
2. Alexander Mitscherlich and Viktor von Weizsäcker
3. “Freedom and Unfreedom in Illness”
4. The Establishment of the German Medical Commission
5. “The Dictate of Contempt for Humanity”
6. Doctors of Infamy
7. Basic Questions of Medical Science
8. “Science without Humanity”
9. “Coming to Terms with the Past” and Medicine
10. The Late Awakening of the 1980s

3.   “Knowingly Human”: Threats and the Future of Human Medicine

1. Alexander Mitscherlich’s Experience as a Patient
2. Gerhard Kienle and Human Medicine
3. “Drug Safety and Society”
4. Medical Judgment and Scientific Social Maturity
5. The Economization of Health Care
6. Standardization, Depersonalization, and Medical Ethics
7. Unspoken Basic Assumptions
8. Plea for Therapeutic Anthropology
9. Courage to Resist
10. Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Development of Medical Awareness


About the Author

Peter Selg was born in 1963 in Stuttgart and studied medicine in Witten-Herdecke, Zurich, and Berlin. Until 2000, he worked as the head physician of the juvenile psychiatry department of Herdecke hospital in Germany. Dr. Selg is now director of the Ita Wegman Institute for Basic Research into Anthroposophy (Arlesheim, Switzerland) and professor of medicine at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences (Germany). He lectures extensively and is the author of numerous books, many of which have been published in English.

Additional information

Weight 18 oz
Dimensions 6 × 0.75 × 9 in


Jeff Martin




November 2021






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