• National Socialist anatomy;
  • bodies of the executed;
  • Nazi victims;
  • anatomical dissection


While it is known that bodies of the executed were used for anatomical research in Germany during the Third Reich, it is unclear whether this type of work was unique to the time period or more common in Germany than elsewhere. The dissected persons and the anatomists involved have not been fully investigated. This study of anatomical journals from 1924 to 1951 shows that 166 out of 7,438 [2.2%] German language articles mentioned the use of “material” from the bodies of executed persons. In comparison, only 2 out of 4,702 English language articles explicitly mentioned bodies of the executed. From 1924 to1932, 33 of a total of 3,734 [1%] German articles listed the use of the executed. From 1933 to 1938 the number rose to 46 out of 2,265 [2%], and increased again from 1939 to 1945 to 73 out of 984 [7%]. After the war 15 out of 455 [3%] still dealt with “material” from the executed. German anatomists' familiarity with the use of the executed as a standard for healthy tissues even before 1933 may have contributed to the ease with which they accepted the “opportunities” (large-scale studies and research on women) presented to them by unlimited access to bodies of the executed provided by the abusive National Socialist (NS) legislation and continued using them for some years after the war. German postwar anatomy was built in part on the bodies of NS victims. Information given in some publications will help with further identification of these victims. Clin. Anat. 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.