Trigger warning: This article contains images of death.
We came across this rather grisly image being circulated on Telegram:
The image being circulated contains a black and white photo along with text which states that members of the media who “lied and misled the German people” and doctors and nurses who “participated in medical experiments using living people as guinea pigs” were hung in Nuremberg, Germany.
The caption at the top of the image is a thinly veiled threat, presumably to members of the media and medical personnel, asking if they are “still so sure [they] want to try to force [individuals] to get the experimental vaccination”.
When was the photo taken?
When we did a Google search of the terms “nuremberg hangings doctors”, we were led to articles about The Nuremberg Trials, a series of 13 trials carried out in Nuremberg, Germany, between 1945 and 1949. The defendants, who included Nazi Party officials and high-ranking military officers along with German industrialists, lawyers and doctors, were indicted on such charges as crimes against peace and crimes against humanity.
In particular, one of the trials dubbed the ‘Doctor Trial’, which happened on 9 December 1946, saw an American military tribunal open criminal proceedings against 23 German physicians and administrators for their willing participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Eventually, sixteen of the doctors were found guilty and seven were sentenced to death. The execution was carried out on 2 June 1948.
Does the photo in the circulated image then depict this particular execution?
A factcheck by Reuters reveals that the photo was actually taken in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, in 1946. Below is a screenshot from an academic paper published in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies journal, which talks about the Holocaust and Soviet War Crimes trials which happened between December 1945 and February 1946.
According to another factcheck on Snopes, we also see that Ukraine’s Shostka Museum of Local History states that the image was taken on 29 January 1946, and shows the execution of a dozen Nazi war criminals in Kyiv.
In another factcheck by AFP, Richard Wilson, Professor of Anthropology and Law at the University of Connecticut, also clarified that only one member of the media was convicted and hanged during the Nuremberg trials.
Therefore, while the image is legitimate, it is false that it depicts the execution of members of the media and medical personnel in Nuremberg.
With regard to the insinuation in the image, COVID-19 vaccines have been commonly referred to as being ‘experimental’ by individuals who are against vaccination, who cite the alleged lack of standard safety testing and incomplete initial research trials as evidence of their belief. These claims have been debunked multiple times, and safety monitoring is still being conducted after initial approvals are given by regulators.
Members of the media and medical personnel (or anyone who expresses support for vaccination) being called out by individuals against vaccination is also not new.
For example, a Facebook video of a man claiming that medical personnel administering COVID-19 vaccines are “war criminals” went viral last year. In it, he quoted the Nuremberg code “on medical experimentation written in 1947 [which] stated that explicit, voluntary consent from patients is required for human experimentation”, and individuals being vaccinated “must be told they’re taking part in a trial and they must be warned of all the possible adverse events”. He then went on to state that doctors and nurses are administering vaccinations without “telling patients it’s a trial” and therefore, “legally, all those people giving vaccinations are war criminals”.
While what he quoted about the Nuremberg code regarding informed consent is true, recipients of the vaccine (and the general public) are clearly informed about the risks before they are jabbed so that they can make an informed decision.