Former Nazi War Crimes Court Reporter to Discuss Medical Ethics, Doctors' Crimes Against Humanity

HOUSTON, TX (Feb. 6, 2006) - In October 1945, 21 men entered the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany, to stand trial for crimes against humanity committed during World War II. During that trial, survivors of medical "experiments" stood witness against the men who tortured them by recounting their experiences in prisoner camps such as Auschwitz, Dachau and Ravensbruck.

Houston resident Vivien R. Spitz was one of 26 court reporters selected by the U.S. War Department to report and record events in that Nuremberg courtroom, including the Nazi doctors' case.

She will discuss that experience and her observations of the trial that set the standards for modern-day medical ethics in a free public lecture on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006 at 7 p.m. at the Herzstein Theater at Holocaust Museum Houston's Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St. in Houston's Museum District.

In "Doctor's from Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans," Spitz will give an eyewitness account of her experience in post-war Nuremberg while working on the war crimes trials of Nazi doctors. She will recount the chilling story of human depravity, the dramatic testimony and the reactions of the defendants to the proceedings. The landmark trial resulted in the establishment of the Nuremberg Code, which set the guidelines for modern-day medical research involving human beings.

As a court reporter in 1946, Spitz was recruited by the U.S. War Department to go to Nuremberg to report verbatim proceedings at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

She has served as an official certified shorthand court reporter in the Denver district court and was recruited in 1969 to substitute as an official reporter of debates in the United States Senate, the first woman to do so. Before a permanent position opened in the Senate, she was hired as an official reporter of debates and in 1978 as chief reporter in the U.S. House of Representatives, a job she held for 10 years under four presidents.

Since retiring, Spitz has spoken throughout the country about her experiences in Nuremberg and the Nazi crimes against humanity to more than 47,000 students and adults interested in medical ethics and human rights. She has received several humanitarian awards nationally for her work.

She has been confronted several times by Holocaust deniers and had to be rushed from the podium by security personnel for her protection during a speech in 1999. In 2005, she published a nonfiction account of her experiences, also titled, "Doctors from Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans."

She has received positive reviews of her book nationally. On Sept. 15, 2005, the New England Journal of Medicine printed a review by Dr. Paul S. Applebaum of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in which he wrote, "There is no shortage of accounts of the perverse acts committed by the Nazi doctors. But no academic summary that I have read transmits the horror of their actions so powerfully as this book does."

Spitz recently moved to Houston and resides at Eagle's Trace.

Her appearance is underwritten by the Lillian Kaiser Lewis Foundation, with special thanks to Continental Airlines, official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.

To RSVP or for more information, contact Tamara Savage at 713-942-8000, ext. 104.

Holocaust Museum Houston promotes awareness and educates the public of the dangers of prejudice, hatred and violence against the backdrop of the Holocaust by fostering remembrance, understanding and education.

Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston's Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.

For more information about Holocaust Museum Houston, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.

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