Literature of the Holocaust
maintained by Al Filreis
School denies Nazi link
Friday, November 29, 1996
by Roland Prinz of the ASSOCIATED PRESS
VIENNA - The University of Vienna Medical Faculty yesterday dismissed claims that a Nazi-era anatomy textbook, still in use, was researched using Holocaust victims.
Two American physicians said in a letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association that drawings in the book, first published in the 1930s by Eduard Pernkopf of the Vienna University, might depict Holocaust concentration camp victims because the author was a leading Nazi.
Pernkopf, dean of the medical school after Nazi Germany annexed Austria in 1938, "led the purge against the Jewish faculty in Vienna," wrote Howard Israel and William Seidelman.
They said his book should be "expunged from legitimate professional heritage."
Helmut Gruber, the school's deputy dean, acknowledged that Pernkopf was a "prominent member of the Nazi party. As dean, Pernkopf oversaw "a despotic Nazi regime" at the university, Gruber told the Associated Press.
However, Gruber said the charges about Pernkopf's anatomy book had been investigated after the accusations were first published in another U.S. medical journal for internal medicine.
A report was completed on April 13, 1995, and its results discussed with American medical specialists who had leveled the charges, he said.
Gruber said it was 99 percent certain that Pernkopf's anatomy atlas "did not contain any drawings of Jews or other victims from concentration camps" because their emaciated bodies would not have made good models. In addition, the transport from concentration camps to Vienna would have been too complicated, he said.
Wolfgang Schuetz, the current dean of the school, said Pernkopf had protected Austrian assistants who made the anatomical drawings from being drafted into the German army.
"Out of gratitude, those added swastikas to some of the paintings," Schuetz said.
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