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Ann Anat. 2012 Jun;194(3):237-42. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2012.02.003. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

"Cleansing" anatomical collections: The politics of removing specimens from German anatomical and medical collections 1988-92.

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  • Oxford Brookes University, Centre for Health, Medicine and Society, Dept. of History, Philosophy and Religion, Gypsy Lane, Oxford OX3 0BP, United Kingdom. pjweindling@brookes.ac.uk


In 1989-90 an intense debate erupted in the Federal Republic of Germany over the status of anatomical specimens from the period of National Socialism. Pressure was brought on the German universities and research institutes to remove body parts. The solution was deemed rapid burial of all specimens whose provenance was in doubt. A range of options was considered, and the eventual decision to bury cremated remains was deemed the best way to draw a line under an uncomfortable past of Nazi medical atrocities. The aim was to achieve closure on this issue by a rapid "cleansing" of collections. However, identification of victims was left unresolved amidst the heated debates at the time.

Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier GmbH.

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