Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ann Anat. 2002 May;184(3):295-303.

Anatomy during the Third Reich--the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Marburg, as an example.

Author information

  • 1Emil von Behring-Library for History and Ethics of Medicine, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany.


A complete documentation of German anatomical science and its representatives during the period of national socialism has not been published as yet--contrary to the situation in other medical disciplines. Instead of German anatomists, American anatomists have occasionally addressed this issue during their meetings and have reported on special aspects, such as the use of Nazi symbols in anatomical textbooks and atlases (Pernkopf 1952) and the use of corpses of justice victims for anatomical research and student education. Also, the genesis of the atrocious collection of "racial" skulls, initiated along with the SS-institution of the "Ahnenerbe" by the anatomist August Hirt of Strasbourg (who ordered more than 90 inmates from concentration camps to be murdered in the gas chamber built in the concentration camp of Natzweiler-Struthof close to Strasbourg, Alsace) has been described by Frederic Kasten and others. A broader view of the patterns of behaviour and political actions and fates of contemporary scientists, ranging from dismissal to clandestine opportunism, affirmative cooperation and fanatic activism can be obtained by the analysis of the activities in research, medical education and academic positions of the following members of the Institute of Anatomy at the Philipp-University in Marburg: Ernst Göppert, Eduard Jacobshagen, Ernst-Theodor Nauck, Adolf Dabelow, Helmut Becher and Alfred Benninghoff, whose activities and fates differ in several respects and allow more general deductions. Also, the individual fates of a number of prosecuted Jewish anatomists (Wassermann, München; Poll, Hamburg), of devoted and active members of the Nazi party (Clara, Leipzig; Blotevogel, Breslau) and of criminal fanatics (Hirt, Strasbourg; Kremer, Münster) are briefly discussed. The present contribution is an attempt to initiate a more detailed study of all German departments of anatomy during the Hitler regime and to generate a public discussion among the younger generation of German anatomists.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center