U.S. Responses to Japanese Wartime Inhuman Experimentation after World War II: National Security and Wartime Exigency

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics / Volume 23 / Issue 02 / April 2014, pp 220-230

Brody H, Leonard SE, Nie J-B, Weindling P.


In 1945–46, representatives of the U.S. government made similar discoveries in both Germany and Japan, unearthing evidence of unethical experiments on human beings that could be viewed as war crimes. The outcomes in the two defeated nations, however, were strikingly different. In Germany, the United States, influenced by the Canadian physician John Thompson, played a key role in bringing Nazi physicians to trial and publicizing their misdeeds. In Japan, the United States played an equally key role in concealing information about the biological warfare experiments and in securing immunity from prosecution for the perpetrators. The greater force of appeals to national security and wartime exigency help to explain these different outcomes.
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Survivor of Nazi ‘Twin Experiments’ Talks to Doctors About Human Subjects Research


Science Daily

Eva Kor  will never forget the day her childhood ended. The images of that day,  and the weeks after, are burned into her memory, as brutally permanent  as the tattoo on her left forearm.

On a spring day in 1944 Kor and her twin sister Miriam, 10 years old at  the time, were taken from their family and herded into the Auschwitz  concentration camp. The twins became part of a group of children used for human experimentation by Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of Death. . . [Read more]

German Medical Association apologizes for physician complicty in Nazi atrocities

The German Medical Association has acknowledged and apologized for the participation of German physicians in Nazi programs of forced sterilization, euthanasia, and human experimentation.  The statement also acknowledged that “leading members of the medical community” were involved. [Washington Post]

U.S. veterans recall secret drug experiments

American soldiers were used by the U.S. military as guinea pigs in the testing of a variety of drugs like nerve gas, incapacitating agents like BZ, tear gas, barbiturates, tranquilizers, narcotics and hallucinogens like LSD.  Tests were conducted up until the late 1960’s at what is now the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.  Veterans involved have begun a lawsuit seeking compensation for harm that is alleged to have been suffered as a result of the tests. [CNN]  The story of the tests provides an example of the kind of situation in which conscientious objection by health care workers, had it occurred, might now, in retrospect, seem to have been justified.


Mixed message from US government for victims of unethical medical research

From 1946 to 1948, American and Guatemalan physicians infected prostitutes and prisoners with syphilis without their knowledge or consent in order to test penicillin. The research was discovered by a Wellesley College professor in 2009, and lawyers for the victims filed a class-action lawsuit against the United States.  The Obama administration claims that the US is immune from such lawsuits, but has announced that it will spend $1 million to review new rules to protect medical research volunteers, $775,000 to fight sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala, and will develop a system to compensate anyone harmed in medical research.  Lawyers for the Guatemalan victims say that the promised action is inconsistent with the claim of immunity. [Washington Post]