The Doctors Trial: The Medical Case of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings
Brigadier General Telford Taylor, Chief of Counsel, during the Doctors Trial, which was held in Nuremberg, Germany, from December 9, 1946, to August 20, 1947.
During testimony at the Doctors Trial, American medical expert Dr. Leo Alexander points to scars on Jadwiga Dzido’s leg. Dzido, a member of the Polish underground, was a victim of medical experiments at the Ravensbrüeck concentration camp. Nuremberg, Germany, December 22, 1946.
American judges (top row, from left) Harold Sebring, Walter B. Beals, Johnson Crawford, and Victor Swearingen during the Doctors Trial, which was held in Nuremberg, Germany, from December 9, 1946, to August 20, 1947.
Defendants seated under guard in the dock behind the defense counsel during the Doctors Trial, which was held in Nuremberg, Germany, from December 9, 1946, to August 20, 1947.
A diagram, prepared by prosecutors in the Doctors Trial, placing defendants in the command structure. Nuremberg, Germany, December 12, 1946.
Chief Prosecutor James M. McHaney during the Doctors Trial, which was held in Nuremberg, Germany, from December 9, 1946, to August 20, 1947.
The prosecution team during the Doctors Trial, including Chief of Counsel Brigadier General Telford Taylor (standing, lower left) and Chief Prosecutor James M. McHaney (seated behind Taylor). The Trial was held in Nuremberg, Germany, from December 9, 1946, to August 20, 1947.
Defendant Gerhard Rose (standing, left) next to Chief Prosecutor James M. McHaney during the Doctors Trial. Nuremberg, Germany, June 16, 1947.
Dr. Gerhard Rose on the first day of his testimony in his own defense during the Doctors Trial. Rose was a former medical advisor to the Luftwaffe medical service.
Nazi physician Carl Clauberg (at left), who performed medical experiments on prisoners in Block 10 of the Auschwitz camp. Poland, between 1941 and 1944.
A prisoner in a compression chamber loses consciousness (and later dies) during an experiment to determine altitudes at which aircraft crews could survive without oxygen. Dachau, Germany, 1942.
Victim of a medical experiment immersed in freezing water at the Dachau concentration camp. Dachau, Germany, between August 1942 and May 1943.
A Romani (Gypsy) victim of Nazi medical experiments to make seawater potable. Dachau concentration camp, Germany, 1944.
Photo of wounds left by a medical experiment. The victim had been burned with phosphorous so that medicaments could be tested.
Vladislava Karolewska, a victim of medical experiments, who appeared as a prosecution witness at the Doctors Trial. Nuremberg, Germany, December 22, 1946
Herta Oberheuser, physician on trial for having conducted medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners. Nuremberg, Germany, August 1947.
American judges (top row, seated) during the Doctors Trial. Presiding Judge Walter B. Beals is seated second from the left. The trial was held in Nuremberg, Germany, from December 9, 1946, to August 20, 1947.
On December 9, 1946, an American military tribunal opened criminal proceedings against 23 leading German physicians and administrators for their willing participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity. In Nazi Germany, German physicians planned and enacted the "Euthanasia" Program, the systematic killing of those they deemed "unworthy of life." The victims included the mentally retarded, the institutionalized mentally ill, and the physically impaired. Further, during World War II, German physicians conducted pseudoscientific medical experiments utilizing thousands of concentration camp prisoners without their consent. Most died or were permanently crippled as a result. Most of the victims were Jews, Poles, Russians, and also Roma (Gypsies). After almost 140 days of proceedings, including the testimony of 85 witnesses and the submission of almost 1,500 documents, the American judges pronounced their verdict on August 20, 1947. Sixteen of the doctors were found guilty. Seven were sentenced to death. They were executed on June 2, 1948.
In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Doctors Trial, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum presented excerpts from the official trial record, with accompanying photographs:
- Opening Statement (excerpts)
- Testimony (excerpts): Father Leo Miechalowski
- Testimony (excerpt): Vladislava Karolewska
- Nuremberg Code
- Documents: The transcriptions of documents come from the official trial record: Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10. Nuremberg, October 1946 - April 1949. Washington D.C.: U.S. G.P.O, 1949-1953. Testimony excerpts come from National Archives Record Group 238, M887.
- The excerpts presented here retain the variant spellings and minor typographical errors of the original transcriptions and are unaltered in any way except for minor reformatting for readability on screen. All page numbers and appendices referenced within the transcriptions refer to pages and appendices in the above-cited official trial record.