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June 21: Nazi Science

June 21, 2014

drown_mengeleThis date is notable for two instances in the criminal annals of Nazi science: In 1943, August Hirt, chair of the Reich University in Strasbourg, selected close to 100 Jewish male and female inmates at Auschwitz to be transported and gassed at a death camp near Strasbourg. Their skeletons were then displayed as exhibits in the Reich Anatomical Institute for the Study of the Jewish Race at Hirt’s university. Eighty-six of these victims were identified by scientists sixty years after their murder. Hirt committed suicide before facing prosecution for war crimes. Also on this date, in 1985, a skeleton exhumed in Brazil was identified as the remains of Dr. Josef Mengele (pictured above), the so-called “Angel of Death” doctor of Auschwitz who conducted “selections” and conducted gruesome experiments on twins. Mengele eluded capture for decades and died while swimming in Brazil in 1979.

“Every captive of the Nazi state was considered to be a potential subject for inhuman research. Helpless victims, the inmates of psychiatric hospitals and concentration camps, were available for exploitation while alive. Leading scientists and professors took an active part in this ruthless abuse. Every university anatomical institute in Germany — and probably Austria — was the recipient of the cadavers of victims of Nazi terror, in particular, political victims executed by the Gestapo.” —William E. Seidelman