A nurse working for the Third Reich: Eva Justin, RN, PhD

Susan Benedict, Linda Shields, Colin Holmes, Julia Kurth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
288 Downloads (Pure)


Eugenics underpinned the Nazi race theories which saw the murder of over 10 million people from ''undesirable'' groups, including Sinti (referred to in Nazi times as ''Gypsies''), during the Holocaust. Eva Justin, from Dresden, completed a doctoral dissertation which examined a group of Sinti children of St Josef's Home in Mulfingen, Germany. She aimed to prove the racial inferiority of these children; her work was done with no informed consent, and the children were sent to Auschwitz after her experiments. The study was supported by senior Nazis, supervised by Nazi ''scientists'' and examined by committed Nazis. We argue that her work was biased, poorly designed, and ultimately unethical, but was in keeping with methods of the emerging disciplines of anthropology and racial hygiene, in Germany and other countries, at the time. It is not possible to say that her work caused the children to meet their deaths (of the 39 children she included, only four survived); however, she did reinforce the Nazi racial theories. It is unfortunate that one of the first nurses in the world to receive a PhD did so through research attempting to prove that a group of children were ''racially inferior'' in support of National Socialism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-267
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medical Biography
Issue number4
Early online dateJan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2018


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