“We slow the progress of science today for all sorts of ethical reasons. Biomedicine could advance much faster if we abolished our rules on human experimentation in clinical trials, as Nazi researchers did.”

–Paul Nitze

During the Second World War, the Nazi Germans carried out all sorts of human experimentation that still chills the common man to the bone. Over 6 million Jews and 4 million non-Jewish civilians were unwillingly held as subjects of 14 clinical trials ranging from discovering the cures for hypothermia to the transplantation of bones, muscles and nerves from one person to another without the use of anaesthesia. The period of human experimentation serves as an example of how despite being democratic and civilised countries, in a state of war, crimes were not only a threat to the progress of medicine but also to the human race. The suffering that those individuals went through is now described as medical torture. It wasn’t until the Nuremberg Trials, after the Second World War ended, that the Nazi Germans were prosecuted for the war crimes they committed and a Nuremberg Code was drawn up containing rules and conditions for future clinical trials that would uphold basic human rights that were violated previously –consent of the participant, the duty to balance the need for medical knowledge in regards to the health of that patient and basic respect for the patient were just the basic ideas that are now propagated in the medical world.

Not only has there been an advance in the moral responsibility of the doctors and researchers but the people themselves have become more aware of their rights and are more prone to speak out through the many avenues available to bring a certain issue to light. As we progress into a world that is more humanitarian and technologically advanced, the probability of revisiting the time of human experimentation is, fortunately, highly unlikely.