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Moral erosion: how can medical professionals safeguard against the slippery slope?
  1. Jason Liebowitz
  1. Correspondence to Jason Liebowitz, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 690 N. Calvert St. Baltimore, MD 21202, USA; jliebow3{at}


The extensive participation of German physicians in the atrocities of the Holocaust raises many questions concerning the potential for moral erosion in medicine. What circumstances and methods of rationalisation allowed doctors to turn from healers into accomplices of genocide? Are physicians still vulnerable to corruption of their guiding principles and, if so, what can be done to prevent this process from occurring? With these thoughts in mind, the author reflects on his experiences participating in the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics program and offers a medical student's perspective on the ethical issues encountered in clinical training and the practice of medicine.

  • Medical ethics
  • Holocaust
  • moral erosion
  • social history
  • medical ethics
  • medical ethics/bioethics

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  • Funding This work was supported by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics program.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.