On December 9, 1946, an American military tribunal
opened criminal proceedings against twenty-three leading German physicians and
administrators for their willing participation in war crimes and
crimes against humanity. Officially called United States of America v. Karl Brandt et al, the trial was the first of twelve similar proceedings against Nazi doctors held by the United States following World War II.
During the reign of the Third Reich, Nazi physicians planned
and enacted the "Euthanasia"
Program - the systematic killing of those they deemed
"unworthy of life." The victims included the mentally
retarded, the institutionalized mentally ill and the physically
impaired. Further, during World War II German physicians conducted
pseudoscientific medical experiments utilizing thousands of concentration
camp prisoners without their consent. Most died or were
permanently crippled as a result. Most of the victims were Jews,
Poles, Russians, and also Roma (Gypsies).
After almost 140 days of proceedings which included the
testimony of 85 witnesses and the submission of almost 1,500
documents, the American judges pronounced their verdict on August 20,
1947 - sixteen of the doctors were found guilty and seven were sentenced
to death. They were executed on June 2, 1948.