1900–1930: Berlin Code of Ethics

Biomedical research in Germany was considered the most advanced in the world — both in its development and its ethics standards. Berlin Code of Ethics (1900) guaranteed that “all medical interventions for other than diagnostic, healing, and immunization purposes, regardless of other legal or moral authorization are excluded under all circumstances if (1) the human subject is a minor or not competent due to other reasons; (2) the human subject has not given his unambiguous consent; (3) the consent is not preceded by a proper explanation of the possible negative consequences of the intervention.” Nevertheless, in practice, unethical experimentation on human subjects was “fairly common among researchers who were more concerned with success in their scientific endeavors than with the morality of their work.” (Sierra, Ethics in Medical Research in Humans . . . 2011)