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Correspondence |

Comments on Dr. Wegener Editorial FREE TO VIEW

Philippe Girard, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

Institut Mutualiste Montsouris, Paris, France

Correspondence to: Philippe Girard, MD, FCCP, Département Thoracique, Institut Mutualiste Montsouris, 42 Boulevard Jourdan, 75014, Paris, France; e-mail: philippe.girard@imm.fr



Chest. 2007;132(6):2066. doi:10.1378/chest.07-2365
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To the Editor:

“The only record of this occurrence is in the Convocation Program printed that year.” In fact, there is a recording of Dr. Wegener’s presentation.

I attended the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) meeting in Boston in 1989 (I was 33 at the time), and I remember very well the presentation Dr. Wegener made at the meeting. As I was unable to attend his presentation, I managed to attend the award ceremony just to see the man (a tall, thin, apparently proud man) and, above all, I bought a tape recording of the presentation. I remember listening to the tape the following days in my car on my way to my hospital back in France. He was speaking in German (the first words were Es ist eine grosse Ehre … or something very close to that), and each sentence was immediately translated in English (my friend Dr. Sergio Salmeron who attended the presentation believes Dr. U. Specks was the translator). It was very moving to hear this man describing not only “his” disease and the way he discovered it, but also where he came from, and there was apparently (I did not see them, unfortunately) at least one slide with his family and one slide from Lübeck. As far as I remember, there was no allusion to his past in the World War II years. Maybe this recording could provide evidence as to whether Dr. Wegener made any false or misleading statement regarding his past?

Shortly after the meeting (or a couple of years later), somebody told me about Dr. Wegener’s “unclear” past. I thought the ACCP was aware of that past and had considered there was insufficient evidence to deny or withdraw the award.

Regarding what to do now, I support your current decision: if the award was given in good faith, as it was “scientifically” deserved, as there seems to be so far no evidence of Dr. Wegener participating directly in war crimes, and if there is no evidence of false or misleading statements, I believe he can be left with the bénéfice du doute (benefit of doubt). Regarding the tape, I have been unable to locate it, but other attendees must have this tape, as well as, maybe, the ACCP and/or the company that made the recording. I certainly appreciate ACCP’s transparency on all this …

The author has no conflict of interest to disclose.


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