'Deadly Medicine' exhibit at CMU shows doctors' deadly role in Holocaust

German students were taught Gregor Mendel's principles of inheritance and taught to apply them to principles of race.

The images from the Holocaust are disturbing - men, women and children herded in masses to be tortured and killed at concentration camps â?? but perhaps even more unsettling is how the Nazi regime used science to legitimize genocide.

Anyone with physical or mental disabilities were biological threats unfit for life â?? that included â??inferiorâ?? races as the Nazis called it, most notably, Jews.

â??Scientists and doctors became very important to the Nazi regime as spreading this message to the people,â?? said Jim Knight, marketing director at Central Michigan Universityâ??s College of Medicine.

Physicians, psychiatrists and other health professionals â?? those traditionally charged with healing their patients â?? were recruited to help â??cleanseâ?? German society.

CMUâ??s Dr. Martin Tobi â?? whose great-grandmother was killed in the Holocaust â?? said, â??The doctors were enthusiastic followers of the idea of eugenics and racial purity.â??

From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany carried out a campaign to purify the so-called Master Race by weeding out the weak and breeding the strong. Doctors supported racial health policies that included mass sterilization and human experimentation, even euthanasia.

Jay Martin, Ph.D., Director of CMUâ??s Museum of Cultural & Natural History, said, â??Doctors flocked to this movement and participated in it because it was an opportunity to do outstanding research unrestrained by society.â??

That unrestraint and lack of ethics gave doctors great power.

â??With the propaganda and the pseudoscience that they engendered, they were able initially to get rid of people that they felt were not worthy of life,â?? Dr. Tobi said.

The exhibit â??Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Raceâ?? â?? a traveling exhibit from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum â?? illustrates this dark period through a collection of photos, video and survivors stories. It is now on display at Central Michigan University.

Officials say itâ??s meant to startle and to warn us that medical and scientific advancements at the cost of humanity is no advancement at all.

The exhibition is free and open to the public. The museum is located in Rowe Hall and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.