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After Auschwitz

Reflections on the Future of Medicine

Peter Selg
Translated by Jeff Martin
December 2022
More details
  • Publisher
  • ISBN 9781621482666
  • Language English
  • Pages 282 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"

Since 2009, Peter Selg, along with Polish historians, has led seminars at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial on medical ethics for students from Witten/Herdecke University. This book was created following a public event to investigate the “lessons of Auschwitz” for the practice of medicine and society today and in the future.

In Auschwitz—the former German concentration and extermination camp—the focus of these seminars was to shed light on the role of German physicians of the Nazi regime and to commemorate individual victims. Nevertheless, the aim of Dr. Selg’s discussions goes far beyond the historical events of the 1930s and ’40s, using the legacy of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the inhumane medical practices of that time to instruct us today in ways to advance the most compassionate forms of medicine and our treatment of one another as human beings.

Originally published in German as Nach Auschwitz. Auseinandersetzungen um die Zukunft der Medizin by Verlag des Ita Wegman Instituts, Stuttgart, 2020.

C O N T E N T S:


1.   Survival after Auschwitz: Primo Levi and the Hope for Change

      1. The Death of Primo Levi
      2. The Road to Auschwitz
      3. Monowitz Buna
      4. Medicine and Leonardo De Benedetti
      5. If This Is a Man
      6. Social Repression and Reappraisal
      7. Contemporary History and Holocaust Denial
      8. The Difficult Life
      9. The Drowned and the Saved
      10. Despair

2    Medicine without Humanity: Alexander Mitscherlich and the Forces of Persistence          

      1. The Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial
      2. Alexander Mitscherlich and Viktor von Weizsäcker
      3. “Freedom and Unfreedom in Illness”
      4. The Establishment of the German Medical Commission
      5. “The Dictate of Contempt for Humanity”
      6. Doctors of Infamy
      7. Basic Questions of Medical Science
      8. “Science without Humanity”
      9. “Coming to Terms with the Past” and Medicine
      10. The Late Awakening of the 1980s

3.   “Knowingly Human”: Threats and the Future of Human Medicine

      1. Alexander Mitscherlich’s Experience as a Patient
      2. Gerhard Kienle and Human Medicine
      3. “Drug Safety and Society”
      4. Medical Judgment and Scientific Social Maturity
      5. The Economization of Health Care
      6. Standardization, Depersonalization, and Medical Ethics
      7. Unspoken Basic Assumptions
      8. Plea for Therapeutic Anthropology
      9. Courage to Resist
      10. Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Development of Medical Awareness


Peter Selg

Born 1963, Stuttgart.

1986–1993 Study of human medicine at the University of Witten/Herdecke, in Berlin and Zurich. Doctoral thesis: "Attempt to systematize Rudolf Steiner's human physiological ideas. An analysis of the entire lecture and written work (Witten/Herdecke 1995).

1993–2000 Further training as a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy. Senior physician in the psychiatric department for adolescents and young adults at the Herdecke Community Hospital.

2000–2002 Research associate at the Institute for Applied Epistemology and Medical Methodology (Freiburg).

2002–2006 Head physician at the Ita Wegman Clinic Arlesheim (adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy); since 2006 establishment and management of the Ita Wegman Institute for Basic Anthroposophical Research

Since 2007 professorship for medical anthropology and ethics at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences (Alfter near Bonn); teaching in the Studium fundamentale and in the accompanying studies in anthroposophic medicine at the University/Witten-Herdecke

Since 2020, Co-leader of the General Anthroposophical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland