The anatomist Hans Elias: A Jewish German in exile

Authors

  • S. Hildebrandt

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Anatomical Sciences, Department of Medical Education, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    • Division of Anatomical Sciences, Department of Medical Education, University of Michigan Medical School, 3767 Medical Science Building II, 1137 Catherine Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5608, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Hans Elias (1907 to 1985) was an anatomist, an educator, a mathematician, a cinematographer, a painter, and a sculptor. Above all, he was a German of Jewish descent, who had to leave his home country because of the policies of the National Socialist (NS) regime. He spent his life in exile, first in Italy and then in the United States. His biography is exemplary for a generation of younger expatriates from National Socialist Germany who had to find a new professional career under difficult circumstances. Elias was a greatly productive morphologist whose artistic talent led to the foundation of the new science of stereology and made him an expert in scientific cinematography. He struggled hard to fulfill his own high expectations of himself in terms of his effectiveness as a scientist, educator, and politically acting man in this world. Throughout his life this strong-willed and outspoken man never lost his great fondness for Germany and many of its people, while reserving some of his sharpest criticism for fellow anatomists who were active in National Socialist Germany, among them his friend Hermann Stieve, Max Clara, and Heinrich von Hayek. Hans Elias' life is well documented in his unpublished diaries and memoirs, and thus allows fresh insights into a time period when some anatomists were among the first victims of NS policies and other anatomists became involved in the execution of such policies. Clin. Anat. 25:284–294, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Ancillary