Menu JTA Search

German University Still Using Samples from Nazi Experiments

A West German university is continuing to conduct research with human tissues taken from people subjected to Nazi scientific experiments, an independent commission investigating the practice charged in a report issued Friday.

The commission, chaired by Professor Albin Eser, director of the Freiburg-based Max Planck Institute, said Tuebingen University persisted in using microscopic tissue samples.

The commission said it could not establish the exact number of samples from victims of Nazism, but demanded that the samples be buried and the practice abandoned.

The use of samples taken in Nazi experiments was exposed in January by the state-owned ARD television network. The investigatory commission was established in April.

The administrators of three of West German universities mentioned by ARD said they knew of no tissue samples taken from victims of the Nazis.

The fourth school, Tuebingen, said two microscopic samples from its anatomy collection had been withdrawn. According to Chancellor Georg Sandberger, the ARD report was grossly exaggerated.

But the news media, especially Israeli reporters who pursued the ARD report, wrote later that the universities mentioned had used body parts from victims of the Nazis, including Jews, Communists, handicapped and mentally ill people and so-called criminals.

UNIVERSITY STANCE DIFFERS

Sandberger stated in many interviews that Tuebingen had conducted a thorough inquiry of its own and found that the only samples came from a young Polish woman and a young German who were decapitated by the Nazis in Stuttgart.

“The tissues may have been left over from the times when the Nazis delivered corpses to universities for anatomical study. In our collection now there are neither body parts nor tissues which we can trace to the Nazi time,” he said.

That statement clearly contradicted the commission’s report.

University officials are now saying there was a misunderstanding of who constituted a Nazi victim. They said members of the commission failed to differentiate between individuals executed because of their race or beliefs and those who were convicted criminals.

The Eser commission responded that it reached its conclusion on the basis of a thorough analysis and considered only Nazi victims, not criminals in the general sense.

NEXT STORY