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German doctors apologise for the crimes perpetrated by Nazi doctors

The recent apology from the German Medical Association is commendable, but it fails to mention many of the victims of Nazi medicine

On 23 May 2012, the German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer [BAK]) issued a declaration — significantly, in Nuremberg — acknowledging the crimes perpetrated by their predecessors during World War II and asking for forgiveness. Several leading medical journals have responded with commentaries or editorials.14 My present reflections expand on those in a previous article,4 by providing further historical background to the BAK declaration and considering it in the context of Australian medicine.

It is perhaps appropriate that comment should appear in the journal of the medical community in Australia, the country with the third largest intake of survivors of World War II. Indeed, many refugee doctors underwent recertification or requalified in Australia and have descendants currently practising medicine here. I am doubly entitled to comment. As a child, I was a displaced person whose father had been deported to a forced labour camp for 3.5 years; and I have been a practising Sydney surgeon for the past 37 years.