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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/p/pernkopf.eduard/press/doctors-question-atlas.980531

Archive/File: people/p/pernkopf.eduard/press/doctors-question-atlas.980531
Last-Modified: 1998/09/28

Copyright 1998 Times Newspapers Limited
Sunday Times
May 31, 1998, Sunday
Section: Home news

"Nazi victims 'used in anatomy book'"

By Nigel Glass and Trushar Barot

A detailed medical textbook on human anatomy, which has been
sold around the world, is alleged to contain illustrations
of dissected corpses of resistance fighters who were
executed by the Nazis.

The book, Atlas of Anatomy by Eduard Pernkopf, can be bought
in Britain and is available in many medical libraries, such
as those in King's College London and the Royal College of

An investigation has been launched into claims that Nazi
victims were used for some of the 800 intricate watercolour
paintings. The Vienna Institute of Contemporary History,
which is conducting the inquiry, has identified more than
1,000 people believed to have been subjects.

Pernkopf started work on the book before the second world
war and finished it in 1953. The illustration of the hand
alone took more than a year, as dissectors meticulously
exposed its structure for the artist.

Pernkopf, a Nazi sympathiser, was appointed head of Vienna
University's medical faculty after the Nazis took over
Austria in 1938. In his inaugural address he said:
"(Doctors) must take charge of the national body...also by
the extermination of the inferior and the weak".

It has emerged that he based many of the book's drawings on
the dissected corpses of Austrian resistance fighters, who
were executed only 200 metres from the anatomy department
where they were sectioned and embalmed.

Death certificates have revealed that 1,370 bodies were sent
to the department before burial during the Nazi occu pation.
On one night in March 1943, the first of 20 Austrians was
executed for high treason, followed by 11 other resistance
workers and a group of criminals convicted of offences such
as robbery with violence.

It was the enthusiasm of Pernkopf's artists for National
Socialism that first raised suspicions. Three artists
incorporated Nazi symbols when they signed the
illustrations. One artist added a small swastika flourish.
Franz Batke, working on drawings in 1944, turned the "44"
into the twin SS lightning strike symbol and Karl Endtresser
replaced the "SS" in his surname with the storm trooper's
double strike flash.

Professor Howard Israel, of Colombia University in America,
discovered the Nazi insignia. "I felt betrayed and deceived.
I had no clue that I might be using a product of Nazi
medicine," he said. Together with Professor William
Seidelman, a medical ethicist of Toronto University, he
asked Vienna University to launch an inquiry.

The Royal College of Surgeons confirmed that it had a copy
of the book but would not comment on whether it would be
removed as a result of the inquiry.

A librarian at King's College School of Medicine and
Dentistry said: "The only reason we have the book is because
we were given it by a German student in the 1960s. It is not
a required textbook. It is being withdrawn into our special

Professor Bryan Turner, an anatomist at Birmingham
University, said the book should be condemned: "There is a
history of this sort of thing in anatomy, but this book has
to be condemned without reservation."

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