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Saturday, 07. January 2017

Max Planck Society to probe Third-Reich Era Medical Science: thanks to the Institute’s recent activities and investigations

In the most recent issue of Science, journalist Megan Gannon reports on the decision of Max Planck Society’s President Martin Stratmann to nominate an international committee of historians to probe activities of former scientists of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society during the Nazi era and the exploitation of human material by scientists of its predecessor (Max Planck Society) even after WWII.

Julius Hallervorden (photo: Archives of the Max Planck Society)

The new development in this grim history is the establishment of an external committee by the Max Planck Society with historians Paul Weindling (Oxford Brookes University), Volker Roelcke (University of Giessen), Patricia Heberer-Rice (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington), Herwig Czech (University of Vienna) and Gerrit Hohendorf (Technical University of Munich). Their charge will be to reconstruct the networks that enabled those scientists to commit and exploit their crimes, and to investigate the fate of the individual victims, something which was not entirely possible at the time the brains from the victims from the Frankfurt Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Brain Research and Munich MPI of Psychiatry were buried at the Munich Waldfriedhof in 1990.

More information about the Institute’s history, as well as about the committee, can be obtained from the interview (German) with Heinz Wässle, emeritus director of the MPI for Brain Research for the Frankfurt radio station hr-iNFO.

Much of this new activity from the Max Planck Society follows from our Institute’s initiative to provide a complete and exhaustive accounting of criminal activities of scientists of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society during the Third Reich, of the exploitation of their crimes for “science”, and to provide an accounting of the lives of their countless victims.

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Dr. Arjan Vink
T: +49 69 850033-2900
M: +49 175 2647988
pr(at)brain.mpg.de