As in previous years since the beginning of this century, Nahariya's 16th Conference on Holocaust and Medicine took place in the Galilee Medical Center with over 250 participants. There were twenty lectures in the first two sessions and the third one was devoted to a panel discussion on medical ethics following the Holocaust.
The first session was devoted to morbidity during the Holocaust and the ways that Jewish medicine dealt with it such as the heroic attempts to fight typhus by developing a vaccination.
 

The fate of Jewish dermatologists in Germany and Austria, who formed the backbone of dermatology there, and how their disappearance and deportation drastically deteriorated the profession, was also shared.
 

Another issue that was raised was the treatment of the elderly population's special and unique health problems in the ghettos particularly in Theresienstadt Concentration Camp which became known as "the old people's ghetto". Moreover, one lecture dealt with the horror stories about the attempts of Horst Schumann to sterilize people via radiation.



The second session began with a discussion about Holocaust survivor doctors in Israel. Although initially those who came to Israel after World War II (WWII) were perceived as refugees, they soon joined the country's medical system and accounted for a third of all physicians in Israel.
 
These physicians integrated into the country well and their contributions added a solid foundation to Israel's health system. Prof. Aaron (Alfred) Druker, who founded and headed the Pediatric Nephrology Department at Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for many years, is an example of the survivor's integration and contribution to Israel's medical system. Dr. Druker shared his personal story which moved the conference's participants to tears.


The second part of the session was dedicated to the health of survivors since their independence until today. Issues regarding nutrition in displaced persons camps were discussed. Subsequently, as in many previous conferences, we focused on the question of inter-generational transfer of Holocaust trauma. Three lectures dealt with mental health in survivors' offspring and a fourth dealt with EMDR, a special method of treatment for Holocaust survivors.



The conference's last session dealt with medical ethics after the Holocaust. The first lecture discussed the reentry of the German Medical Association (GMA) to the World Medical Association (WMA) following WWII. Initially, the GMA was requested to acknowledge and apologize for Nazi medical crimes to the victims and survivors. However, during the discussions that followed, the WMA gradually withdrew its demands permitting German physicians to be accepted into the organization and even to play leading roles.


To conclude the conference, Dr. Leonid Eidelman, Chairman of Israel's Medical Association (IMA), Dr. Tammy Karny, Chairman of the IMA Ethics Committee and its former chairman, Prof. Eran Dolev participated in a lively panel discussion on medical ethics in Israeli society. This discussion focused on ethical problems that arise in light of the migration of refugees to Israel as well as hunger strikes of prisoners and the question of caring for them against their will. Additionally, the issue of treatment of those injured in wars was debated including whether medical care should be provided depending solely on a victim's condition or whether he/she is an enemy.



Nahariya's annual conference on the Holocaust and Medicine is the first one that was dedicated to the subject in the current century in Israel.  The Galilee Medical Center, which provides treatment to survivors in the Western Galilee and is therefore aware of many of their problems, founded the conference in 2001 together with the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum and the Western Galilee College. Later on the Technion's Faculty of Medicine, Bar Ilan's Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, Korot: The Israel Journal of the History of Medicine and Science and the IMA each joined the partnership in due course.


The early conferences mainly dealt with the history of those terrible days. Topics that were explored included the incidence of typical diagnoses in ghettos and camps and ways to address them as well as the organization of doctors, research and the teaching of medicine that took place during the Holocaust; all of the aforesaid were heroic deeds in and of themselves. Nahariya's conferences have clearly had an impact because following the highlighting of issues presented during them, many studies were initiated in Israel on subjects they raised. These issues were discussed by the Dorner Committee later on and were brought to the attention of Israel's courts and the Ministry of Health which then made provisions for diagnosis and adequate compensation to survivors.



Pregnancy under the conditions of the Holocaust and their impact on the health of offspring is another topic that was covered at the early conferences. Here too a wave of studies resulted which led the courts to recognize that those who were conceived during the Holocaust but born afterwards, should be considered survivors for purposes of the Victims of Nazi Persecution Law of 1957.
To date 161 lectures have been held since the first Nahariya conference and the topics break down as follows: morbidity and medicine during the Holocaust (70 lectures or 44%), medical exploits of the Nazis (17 lectures, 11%), the impact of the Holocaust on the health of survivors and their offspring (47 lectures, 30%), medical ethical issues and lessons (22 lectures, 14%) and genocide in other nations such as Armenia.


Nahariya's Conference on Holocaust and Medicine served as a trigger for other medical institutions to organize similar gatherings and to a wave of studies that have helped many survivors both in terms of recognition of their illnesses and their treatment. Our hope is to continue these meetings in the future and to increase their contribution to studies of the past as well as to explore issues that arise from them in our own times.