Origin of corpses received by the anatomical institute at the University of Jena during the Nazi regime


  • Christoph Redies,

    Corresponding author
    • Institute of Anatomy I, Friedrich Schiller University, Teichgraben 7, D-07743 Jena, Germany
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    • Dr. Redies is a professor of anatomy and chair of the Institute of Anatomy I at the Friedrich Schiller University (FSU), Jena. He obtained his MD from the University of Göttingen, a PhD in neurosciences from McGill University, and received postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Kyoto. His present research area is molecular neuroembryology.

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  • Michael Viebig,

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    • Mr. Viebig studied history at the University of Halle. He is an associate of the Commemorative Site at the Roter Ochse prison in Halle, where prisoners were detained and executed during the Nazi regime and in postwar East Germany. His current research interest concerns the origin of corpses used by anatomical institutes in Germany.

  • Susanne Zimmermann,

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    • Dr. Zimmermann is a lecturer at the Department of Medical History, FSU. She obtained her MD from FSU and received postgraduate training as a surgeon. Her current research focuses on the “euthanasia” program of the Nazis and on the medical faculty in Jena during the Nazi regime.

  • Rosemarie Fröber

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    • Dr. Fröber received an MD from FSU, where she is a prosector at the Institute of Anatomy. She is a curator at the FSU Anatomical Museum. Her present research interest is in the area of clinical anatomy and embryology.


During the Nazi regime (1933–1945), the anatomical institute at the University of Jena received 2,224 corpses, of which approximately 200 originated from executions. The available data clearly suggest that a large portion of these 200 executed persons must be considered victims of Nazi crimes. Approximately an equal number of bodies were delivered from state nursing homes and mental institutions in the state of Thuringia during the same time period. The available data suggest that it is highly likely that many of them were victims of decentralized “euthanasia” programs. The remains of many prisoners of nearby labor camps, mostly from Eastern Europe, are listed in the body register at the institute as well. A group of anatomists and historians has investigated the institute's association with Nazi crimes. Apart from documenting the association, the aim of the investigation is to clarify the whereabouts of the corpses. In particular, it must be ascertained that none of the specimens publicly displayed in the anatomical collection of the Friedrich Schiller University originated in the context of Nazi crimes. Anat Rec (Part B: New Anat) 285B:6–10, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.