Platform for International Cooperation: "Bioethics and the Legacy of the Holocaust"

Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine

Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Duration: 2018-2020

Carried out by:

  • Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz (Projektleitung)
  • PD Dr. Heiko Stoff (Projektleitung)

About us

In the summer of 2017, we established an international working group which aims at jointly examining the impact and legacy of the Holocaust on the development of bioethics in Israel and Germany. Since 2018 we are government-funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). During a German-Israeli Symposium on 'Bioethics and the Legacy of the Holocaust' from May 13 until May 17, 2019 in Berlin, a theoretical framework for interdisciplinary studies by addressing methodological and conceptual questions was introduced. Selected junior career researchers from Germany and Israel had been actively enrolled in this transnational and cross-cultural symposium with extensive exchange on existing, ongoing, and envisioned studies. They now cover our network with different disciplinary backgrounds, such as history of science and medicine, bioethics, public health ethics and cultural studies as well as technology studies (STS).

Research Focus

The main research question is whether and how the concept, discipline, and debates of current bioethics and related practices in Israel and Germany have been influenced by historical memories. In particular this includes ethical guidelines, committees, counseling, public priorities, ethico-legal developments, as well as research and health policies. Also the impact of the so-called Nuremberg Code, and by this the US debate on 'historical lessons', on current bioethics are part of the reflection. While many studies have a focus on local debates, our research has a particularly strong interest in transnational and cross-cultural exchanges of and between such debates. By bringing together bioethicists and historians, we want to contribute to future debates in the broader field of medical humanities, a field comprising the various disciplines (historical, ethical, cultural, and sociological) by reflecting on the relationship between medical history, ethical debates and current medical practices.


  • Assor, Yael, M.A., University of California, U.S.A.
  • Boas, Hagai, PhD, Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Israel
  • Czech, Herwig, Dr., Charité Berlin, Germany
  • Davidovitch, Nadav, Prof. PhD. University of the Negev, Israel
  • Foth, Hannes, M.A., University of Lübeck, Germany
  • Hashiloni-Dolev, Yael, Prof. PhD. Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Israel
  • Hohendorf, Gerrit, Prof. Dr. med., Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany
  • Krischel, Matthis, Dr., Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Schicktanz, Silke, Prof. Dr., University Medical Centre Göttingen, Germany
  • Schütz, Mathias, Dr., Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany
  • Stoff, Heiko, PD Dr., Hannover Medical School, Germany
  • Zalashik, Rakefet, Prof. PhD, Vanderbilt University, U.S.A.
  • Zuckerman, Shachar, PhD, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Outcome and Publications

This collaboration aims at developing a larger, continuous platform encouraging joint research and publications. Currently we are planning a special issue for the journal BIOETHICS. This is expected to be published in autumn 2020.

The issue will provide an innovative theoretical framework for future interdisciplinary studies on the historization and cultural self-reflection of bioethics by addressing methodological and conceptual questions. The topics selected will cover all the main relevant aspects of the debate and can be organized in three sections:

  • The general conceptual and meta-ethical issues of the relationship between ethics and the history of medicine
  • The impact of historical references on current bioethical debates on genetics and reproduction medicine, end of life decisions, and research ethics
  • The political and public usage of explicit and implicit analogies for justifying or criticizing public health policies

Join us


We are looking for researchers from post-doc level onwards whose work is situated within the intersection of:

  • Bioethics with a focus on the impact of medical history of the first half of the 20th century on current debates
  • Theoretical, philosophical, or didactical concepts of historical responsibility in the areas of teaching history and ethics of medicine
  • Contemporary historical studies on how the Holocaust – 'Nazi medicine' – of the first half of the 20th century impact current health policy
  • Cultural-comparative approaches on health policy/biopolicy considering historical developments
  • Social studies of public or health professional attitudes/narratives related to the Holocaust, 'Nazi medicine', or bio-selective technologies in immigration politics

Should you be interested in joining our collaboration or have any questions, please contact us.



Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz

Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz

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