A duty of care: Rationalizing compassion and cruelty through women’s experiences of war

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Book Chapter

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McLean, M., Spooner, A., & Sargeant, S. (2017). Duty of Care: Rationalizing compassion and cruelty through women's experiences of war. In M-C. Patron, R. Wildeboer, & A. Rokach (Eds.), Women and war: Opening Pandora's Box - Intimate relationships in the shadow of traumatic experiences (pp. 79-98). New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

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Core ethical principles should uphold the practice of medicine, a profession in which society places considerable trust in its members. During the Second World War, however, these principles were deliberately ignored by Nazi physicians but, in the ghettos and concentration camps, they were also compromised by many Jewish doctors as they desperately attempted to minimize harm for the greater good. In this chapter, three female academics, a medical scientist, a doctor and a psychologist have each identified and then describe a woman's experiences during the Second World War. One might be considered a heroine for alleviating some of the angst of thousands of men and women travelling to an unknown fate on their way to war, one a victim as a child and another a perpetrator of crimes against fellow human beings during the Holocaust. Through the lenses of their experiences and personal recollections, oral histories have led to the scrutiny of larger social issues. More specifically, the testimonies of these women who were positioned at various junctures along the complex trajectory of war, which were considered from our multidisciplinary perspectives, have allowed us to continue to question and provide commentary in modern society, especially in the field of medical education.

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