In 1943, August Hirt, a professor of anatomy and forensics, and the chairman of the Reich University in Strasbourg during the city’s Nazi occupation, conducted “medical” experiments on the bodies of Holocaust victims who had been murdered in a gas chamber at the nearby Natzweiler-Struthof Concentration Camp. Strasbourg was liberated in 1944, and the bodies, which were preserved in bins of distilled alcohol, were buried thereafter, in 1946 in France. Hirt committed suicide in 1945 before he could stand trial for war crimes.
But earlier this month, Raphael Toledano, a researcher at the medical insitute in Strasbourg, France, who co-authored a documentary on Hirt’s crimes, discovered the various remains of 86 Holocaust victims. Some were fully intact, while others were not, reported The Independent. JTA reported that the University’s administration has been denying the existence of these remains for years, before a report from Metronews.fr was published on Saturday, July 18, which squashed that claim.
“The macabre collection of corpses was meant to serve proof of Nazi’s racial theory as taught by the Ahnenerbe organization,” reported RT (via a news item from AFP on July 9). The bodies were not actually preserved (in distilled alcohol) by Hirt, but rather by “a forensic professor from Strasbourg’s medicine faculty, Camille Simonin, as part of an investigation into Hirt’s crimes,” reported The Independent.
A letter written by Simonin in 1952 gave Toledano a clue as to the location of the remains which mentioned jars containing “samples taken in the course of judicial autopsies carried out on the Jewish victims of the Struthof gas chamber.
A statement announcing the bodies’ discovery said that labels on each piece refer to the register 107969 and “match the number tattooed at the Auschwitz camp on the forearm of Menachem Taffel, one of the 86 victims.”
The Holocaust victims will reportedly be returned to the Jewish community of Strasbourg, where they will be buried.