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Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1999 Oct 1;111(18):743-53.

[Senate's project at the University of Vienna, "Studies in anatomical science in Vienna from 1938-1945"].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Universität Wien, Osterreich.



Since much criticism was expressed by the public concerning an association between the Anatomical Atlas of Pernkopf and National Socialism, the Senate of the University of Vienna decided in 1997 to establish a Commission composed of medical professionals and historians who were assigned with the task of clarifying the issue and investigating the reproaches. The aim of the research project was defined as follows: to provide a thorough and comprehensive clarification for the suspicion that bodies of victims of the National Socialist regime were misused for the purpose of producing anatomical preparations for research and education. In a laborious procedure, the Commission investigated the supply of cadavers to the Institute of Anatomy and their application, documented the persons executed at the Provincial Court of Vienna, and the use of these cadavers by the Institute of Anatomy. Both, at the Institute of Anatomy as well as in all departments of the Medical Faculty of University of Vienna, the Commission looked for remains of victims of National Socialistic judicature. In order to document the historical context of the Pernkopf atlas, a biography of Pernkopf, his association with Nazism, the emergence of his atlas, and the way Austrians deal with the mortal remains of humans since 1945, were included in the study. One outcome of the work of the Commission is a complete list of those persons who were executed from 1938 to 1945 and were handed over to the Institute of Anatomy either completely or partially. It is a list that has never existed in this form until now. Neither did the Commission find evidence of the use of corpses from concentration camps, nor were they able to identify (name) the individuals used for the illustrations in Pernkopf's atlas. The Commission suggested that all preparations whose origin could not be determined with certainty, which definitely did not belong to the National Socialist period, and which could not be clearly assigned to a particular category, should be buried.

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