University of Tübingen: University wants to clarify the whereabouts of anatomical specimens

The University of Tübingen has agreed to systematically deal with newly raised questions about the handling of anatomical specimens from the Nazi era in a recently published medical-historical research article. Rector Professor Bernd Engler said that the university will use all possible means to clarify the matter: “Therefore, as soon as the allegations became known, I commissioned the historian and head of the current research project on the so-called Grave Field X, Professor Benigna Schönhagen, to keep the files in the archive of the To sift through the university in order to answer the open questions. ”Should the facts not be clarified on the basis of the files, the university will discuss with the city of Tübingen about a possible exhumation of the remains buried in cemetery X in July 1990.

In a recently published article, the British medical historian Professor Paul Weindling suspected that those responsible at the university were supposed to have buried the remains of underage victims of euthanasia in Tübingen in July 1990. At the time, the process was concealed from the public and also from an external investigation commission commissioned by the university. The remains – predominantly or exclusively parts of the brain – are said to have been buried together with other anatomical specimens from the Nazi era in grave field X of the Tübingen city cemetery.

“The process researched by Professor Weindling also raises a number of questions from the university’s point of view,” said the Rector. The examination of the files from the years 1989/90 – including the minutes of service meetings of the then university management – is currently ongoing, but has not yet provided any clarity. Engler said the university would use all available sources to investigate the whereabouts of the remains.

In 1988/89, the university was confronted with the fact that prepared body parts from the Nazi era were still in various medical teaching and display collections. The university then set up a commission of inquiry that was supposed to carry out a complete inventory. In its final report, which was presented in the summer of 1989, the commission recommended that all specimens from the period between 1933 and 1945 be removed from the Anatomical Institute and all other medical facilities of the university and buried in a dignified manner. The burial in cemetery X was closed to the public on July 4, 1990. A public commemoration took place four days later. According to a progress report, the University President Adolf Theis sent to the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science and Art on the day of the funeral, two urns and “four marble containers with glass slides” were buried. So far, however, it remains unclear what was in which container and from which institute the enclosed preparations came.

According to research by Professor Weindling, the remains of euthanasia victims are also said to have been buried on July 4, 1990. The preparations are said to come from the so-called Wiesengrund children’s department in Berlin-Wittenau, where a large number of mentally ill children were murdered during the Second World War. Doctors working at the facility took the brains of the killed children and prepared them for research purposes. The pathologist Berthold Ostertag, who works in Wiesengrund, is said to have brought the brain specimens from a total of 106 victims to Tübingen after the war. After the end of the war, Ostertag set up the Institute for Brain Research at the University of Tübingen and headed it until his retirement in 1964.

As can be seen from the final report of the investigative commission, in 1989 the university management obliged all medical institutes to check their collections and to report preparations that were alleged to have come from Nazi victims. The then management of the Institute for Brain Research had then declared in writing that – even according to Professor Peiffer – there were no preparations in the institute’s holdings from the time before the end of the war. Accordingly, the brain preparations of the murdered children are not mentioned in the final report of the Senate Commission.

Comments are closed.