Dozens of brains and parts of brains were found during renovations at the Max Planck Psychiatric Institute in Munich. This human tissue was taken from Jewish victims of Germany’s National Socialist government, more than 70 years ago. An investigatory committee has been set up in Germany to determine the origin and history of the brain samples.
The Max Planck Institute has asserted that the samples were once used by the German National Socialist brain researcher Julius Hallervorden, who conducted macabre experiments on human beings during and after the Hitlerian regime. For a period of time, Hallervorden served as department head of neuropathology at the Institute, which is formerly known as the "Kaiser Wilhelm Institute."
Dr Julius Hallervorden, brain scientist and child murderer
Researchers have been able to identify some of the victims of the Nazi excisions and whose tissue has been preserved at the Institute. The intention is to bury them in a mass grave, as was done likewise with other previously discovered samples of human tissue. The process could take years to complete.
On its website, the Institute published a message expressing its consternation: "We are embarrassed by these findings, and the blemish of their discovery in the archives. We will update the public with any further information that comes to light with complete transparency."
Herr Doktor Julius Hallervorden at work
In Israel, personnel at the Yad Vashem holocaust museum and monument had not been aware of the samples’ existences until today. Professor Dan Machman, Director of the International Center for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, told Israeli media that, "it's surprising, although not completely. We know that experiments were conducted and that not everything was erased and buried. Two years ago, bones of victims on whom experiments were conducted were found in Berlin in the trash. Next year, we're going to organize a convention about this issue."
1930s Nazi propaganda claiming that sustaining one disabled person would sustain a family of four.
"This [current finding] is something new that was previously unknown, and joins other events that are suddenly uncovered after 70 years," Machman said. "Whoever thought this chapter was completely finished is mistaken. It's hard to know if these samples are exclusively from 'mercy killings' [ie. the murder of sick people for the purposes of experimentation] or if they also derive from other sources."
The Max Planck Institute’s statement said that management had originally decided to dispose of samples that were collected between 1933 and 1945, which reflects the full range of the years of National Socialist genocide that included the mentally retarded and insane, Gypsies, homosexuals, Christian ministers and priests, intellectuals, and Jews. However, the institution later decided to keep some of the samples until the beginning of the 1990s. It was then that all the samples were buried in a Munich cemetery and provided with a gravestone in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.