Events

Professor Ulf Schmidt (University of Kent) Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments

The lecture traces the history of chemical and biological weapons research involving experiments on humans by the former Allied powers during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, particularly in Britain, the United States, and Canada. It charts the ethical trajectory and culture of military science, from its initial development in response to Germany’s first use of chemical weapons in the First World War to the ongoing attempts by the international community to ban these types of weapons once and for all. The study throws new light onto the evolving field of military medical ethics by exploring continuity and change in the understanding and application of military medicine and science.

ULF SCHMIDT is Professor of Modern History and founding Director of the Centre for the History of Medicine, Ethics and Medical Humanities at the University of Kent, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His research interests are in the history of modern medical ethics, warfare, policy, and society in twentieth-century Europe and the United States. He has published widely on the history of modern Germany and post-war Europe (East/West), the history of the Cold War, the history of medicine and medical ethics, the history of human experimentation and human rights, the Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial and the Nuremberg Code, the history of eugenics and euthanasia, the history of chemical and biological warfare, and the history of propaganda and conflict.
Professor Schmidt is the author of, among other works, Medical Films, Ethics and Euthanasia in Nazi Germany (2002), Justice at Nuremberg: Leo Alexander and the Nazi Doctors’ Trial (2004), (together with Andreas Frewer, eds), History and Theory of Human Experimentation. The Declaration of Helsinki and Modern Medical Ethics (2007), and Karl Brand: The Nazi Doctor. Medicine and Power in the Third Reich (2007), published in German as Hitlers Arzt Karl Brandt. Medizin und Macht im Dritten Reich (2009). He was the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Wellcome Trust-funded project on “Cold War at Porton Down: Medical Ethics and the Legal Dimension of Britain’s Biological and Chemical Warfare Programme, 1945–1989.” Professor Schmidt has recently published Secret Science. A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments (OUP, 2015), and is one of the editors of the book on Propaganda and Conflict: War, Media and the Shaping of the Twentieth Century (Bloomsbury, 2019). He is also one of the PIs of the recent European Research Council (ERC) Synergy Award (2019) on Taming the European Leviathan: The Legacy of Post-War Medicine and the Common Good (https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/history/2019/10/28/schmidt-taming-the-european-leviathan/).

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