Dissecting the history of anatomy in the Third Reich-1989-2010: A personal account

William E. Seidelman

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31 Scopus citations


This paper is a personal narrative of involvement with the revelations of the use of anatomical and pathological specimens of victims of Nazi terror. The narrative documents responses to the question of the retention and use of anatomical and pathological specimens from victims of Nazi terror by leading academic and scientific institutions and organizations in Germany and Austria including the government of the Federal Republic of (West) Germany, the University of Tübingen, the University of Vienna, the Max Planck Society and the Anatomische Gesellschaft. It begins with the public revelations of 1989 and concludes with the September 2010 Symposium on the History of Anatomy during the Third Reich at the University of Würzburg. The narrative documents a 22-year transition in attitude and responses to the investigation and documentation of the history of anatomy and pathology during the Third Reich. The chronicle includes the 1989 proposed " Call for an International Commemoration" by the author, together with the bioethicist Professor Arthur Caplan, on the occasion of the planned burial of the misbegotten specimens and the responses to that proposal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-236
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Anatomy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2012


  • Anatomy
  • Euthanasia
  • History
  • Kaiser-Wilhelm/Max Planck Society
  • Pernkopf
  • Third-Reich
  • Universities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Developmental Biology


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