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The Doctors' Trial (or, officially, The United States of America vs. Karl Brandt, et. al.) was the first of the twelve trials for war crimes the U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before U.S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms. The twelve U.S. trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials" or, more formally, as the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).
The 23 defendants were all medical doctors and were accused of having been involved in the horrors of Nazi human experimentation.
The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal I, were Walter B. Beals (presiding judge) from Washington, Harold L. Sebring from Florida, and Johnson T. Crawford from Oklahoma, and Victor T. Swearingen , a former special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States, as an alternate judge. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor, the chief prosecutor in this case was James M. McHaney . The indictment was filed on October 25, 1946; the trial lasted form December 9 that year until August 20, 1947. Of the 23 defendants, five were acquitted, and seven received death sentences, the remaining received prison sentences ranging from 10 years to lifetime imprisonment.
The accused faced four charges:
- Conspiracy to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity as described in counts 2 and 3;
- War crimes: performing medical experiments without the subjects' consent on prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, as well as participation in the mass-murder of concentration camp inmates.
- Crimes against humanity: committing crimes described under count 2 also on German nationals.
- Membership in a criminal organization, the SS.
The SS had been declared a criminal organization previously by the IMT.
All defendants pleaded "not guilty".
The tribunal largely dropped count 1, stating that the charge was beyond its jurisdiction.
|Hermann Becker-Freyseng||Stabsarzt in the Luftwaffe (Captain, Medical Service of the Air Force); and Chief of the Department for Aviation Medicine of the Chief of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe||I||G||G||20 years' imprisonment, commuted to 10 years|
|Wilhelm Beiglböck||Consulting Physician to the Luftwaffe||I||G||G||15 years' imprisonment, commuted to 10 years|
|Kurt Blome||Deputy [of the] Reich Health Leader (Reichsgesundheitsfuehrer); and Plenipotentiary for Cancer Research in the Reich Research Council||I||I||I||acquitted|
|Viktor Brack||Oberführer (Senior Colonel) in the SS and Sturmbannführer (Major) in the Waffen SS; and Chief Administrative Officer in the Chancellery of the Fuehrer of the NSDAP (Oberdienstleiter, Kanzlei des Fuehrers der NSDAP)||I||G||G||G||death|
|Karl Brandt||Personal physician to Adolf Hitler; Gruppenfuehrer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Major General) in the Waffen SS; Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation (Reichskommissar fuer Sanitaets- und Gesundheitswesen); and member of the Reich Research Council (Reichsforschungsrat)||I||G||G||G||death|
|Rudolf Brandt||Standartenfuehrer (Colonel); in the Allgemeine SS; Personal Administrative Officer to Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler (Persoenlicher Referent von Himmler); and Ministerial Counsellor and Chief of the Ministerial Office in the Reich Ministry of the Interior||I||G||G||G||death|
|Dr. med. Fritz Fischer||Sturmbannfuehrer (Major) in the Waffen SS; and Assistant Physician to the defendant Gebhardt at the Hospital at Hohenlychen||I||G||G||G||lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 15 years|
|Karl Gebhardt||Gruppenfuehrer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Major General) in the Waffen SS; personal physician to Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler; Chief Surgeon of the Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police (Oberster Kliniker, Reichsarzt SS und Polizei); and President of the German Red Cross||I||G||G||G||death|
|Karl Genzken||Gruppenfuehrer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Major General) in the Waffen SS; and Chief of the Medical Department of the Waffen SS (Chef des Sanitaetsamts der Waffen SS)||I||G||G||G||lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 20 years|
|Siegfried Handloser||Generaloberstabsarzt (Lieutenant General, Medical Service); Medical Inspector of the Army (Heeressanitaetsinspekteur); and Chief of the Medical Services of the Armed Forces (Chef des Wehrmachtsanitaetswesens)||I||G||G||lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 20 years|
|Waldemar Hoven||Hauptsturmfuehrer (Captain) in the Waffen SS; and Chief Doctor of the Buchenwald concentration camp||I||G||G||G||death|
|Joachim Mrugowsky||Oberfuehrer (Senior Colonel) in the Waffen SS; Chief Hygienist of the Reich Physician SS and Police (Oberster Hygieniker, Reichsarzt SS und Polizei); and Chief of the Hygenic Institute of the Waffen SS (Chef des Hygienischen Institutes der Waffen SS)||I||G||G||G||death|
|Herta Oberheuser||Physician at the Ravensbrueck Concentration Camp; and Assistant Physician to the defendant Gebhardt at the Hospital at Hohenlychen||I||G||G||20 years' imprisonment, commuted to 10 years|
|Adolf Pokorny||Physician, Specialist in Skin and Venereal Diseases||I||I||I||acquitted|
|Helmut Poppendick||Oberfuehrer (Senior Colonel) in the SS; and Chief of the Personal Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police (Chef des Persoenlichen Stabes des Reichsarztes SS und Polizei)||I||I||I||G||10 years imprisonment, commuted to none|
|Hans Wolfgang Romberg||Doctor on the Staff of the Department for Aviation Medicine at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation||I||I||I||acquitted|
|Gerhard Rose||Generalarzt of the Luftwaffe (Brigadier General, Medical Service of the Air Force); Vice President, Chief of the Department for Tropical Medicine, and Professor of the Robert Koch Institute; and Hygienic Adviser for Tropical Medicine to the Chief of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe||I||G||G||lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 20 years|
|Paul Rostock||Chief Surgeon of the Surgical Clinic in Berlin; Surgical Adviser to the Army; and Chief of the Office for Medical Science and Research (Amtschef der Dienststelle Medizinische Wissenschaft und Forschung) under the defendant Karl Brandt, Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation||I||I||I||acquitted|
|Siegfried Ruff||Director of the Department for Aviation Medicine at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation (Deutsche Versuchsanstalt fuer Luftfahrt)||I||I||I||acquitted|
|Konrad Schäfer||Doctor on the Staff of the Institute for Aviation Medicine in Berlin||I||I||I||acquitted|
|Oskar Schröder||Generaloberstabsarzt (Lieutenant General Medical Service); Chief of Staff of the Inspectorate of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe (Chef des Stabes, Inspekteur des Luftwaffe-Sanitaetswesens); and Chief of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe (Chef des Sanitaetswesens der Luftwaffe)||I||G||G||lifetime imprisonment, commuted to 15 years|
|Wolfram Sievers||Standartenfuehrer (Colonel) in the SS; Reich Manager of the "Ahnenerbe" Society and Director of its Institute for Military Scientific Research (Institut für Wehrwissenschaftliche Zweckforschung); and Deputy Chairman of the Managing Board of Directors of the Reich Research Council||I||G||G||G||death|
|Georg August Weltz||Oberfeldarzt in the Luftwaffe (Lieutenant Colonel, Medical Service, of the Air Force); and Chief of the Institute for Aviation Medicine in Munich||I||I||I||acquitted|
I — Indicted G — Indicted and found guilty
Generally, the difference between a prison term and the death sentence was membership in "an organization declared criminal by the judgement of the International Military Tribunal" — namely the SS.
- Declaration of Geneva
- Declaration of Helsinki
- Medical ethics
- Medical torture
- Hippocratic Oath
- Nuremberg Principles
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
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