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Keywords:

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

Abstract

Research on the history of anatomy in the Third Reich has often concentrated on the influence of the National Socialist (NS) regime on anatomists and their consequent unethical activities. Only recently, the focus has shifted to NS victims whose bodies were used for anatomical purposes. As a first approach to learning more about the victims, this study investigated the persons whose names Hermann Stieve, chairman of the Anatomical Department at the University of Berlin, had listed after using their bodies for his research. The study draws a group portrait and recounts selected biographies of the 174 women and eight men on the list. Most women were of reproductive age, two-thirds were German and a majority was executed for political reasons. Among the executed were at least two pregnant women. The corrected names, biographical data, and nationalities of all persons on the list are published here. None of them volunteered to be dissected, nor were the anatomists at the time interested in the victims' personal background. Future work will have to focus on the investigation of further biographies so that numbers can be turned back into people. This history is a reminder to modern anatomy that ethical body procurement and the anatomists' caring about the body donor is of the utmost importance in a discipline that introduces students to professional ethics in the medical teaching curriculum. Clin. Anat. 26:3–21, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.