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Dialogues in Research Ethics: Anatomy in ‘Nazi’ Germany—Politics, Science, Ethics and Legacy on March 9

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    Sabine Hildebrandt, M.D.

    For its next Dialogues in Research Ethics, the UM Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy will present “Anatomy in ‘Nazi’ Germany – Politics, Science, Ethics and Legacy” by Sabine Hildebrandt, M.D., at noon on Friday, March 9, at the Miller School’s Mailman Center for Child Development, room 3023. Lunch will be provided on a first come, first-served basis.

    Hildebrandt, assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of General Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and a lecturer on Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, is the author of The Anatomy of Murder: Ethical Transgressions and Anatomical Science during the Third Reich, (Berghahn, 2016), the first systematic study of anatomy during National Socialism. After medical studies at the University of Marburg, Germany, and a professional start in experimental rheumatology, she became an anatomical educator.

    The systematic exploration of the interaction between the anatomical sciences and the National Socialist (NS) regime in Germany has only recently begun. Anatomists, in their role as physical anthropologists and racial hygienists, contributed to the scientific justification of the biologistic NS ideology. After 1933, most of those anatomists not dismissed for “racial” or political reasons joined the NS party. Some served as leaders in the teaching and implementation of eugenics, and all of them profited from changes in traditional anatomical body procurement, which included increasing numbers of victims of the NS regime. Anatomists used these bodies for teaching and research purposes. A few researchers left the traditional paradigm of knowledge gained through work with the dead for a new paradigm of working with the “future dead” in human experiments on prisoners who were subsequently murdered. Legacies from this history inform deliberations on the use of human bodies in current medical education.

    Dialogues in Research Ethics is a series of monthly seminars. For more information, call the UM Ethics Programs at 305-243-5723 or email




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