TEL AVIV – Dozens of brains and other body parts were discovered at the Max Planck Psychiatric Institute in Munich, Germany, when the building was undergoing renovations.
The remains of the bodies are reported to have belonged to victims of the Holocaust who were subjected to Nazi experiments, including children, the mentally ill, and the physically disabled, the Max Planck Institute said according to a report by Israel’s Army Radio.
The samples were likely used by Nazi brain researcher Julius Hallervorden, who conducted experiments on humans during and after the Nazi era, and even served as the Institute’s head of neuropathology in 1938.
The Institute, then called the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, often received human body parts from the Nazis, including from the notorious Auschwitz physician Josef Mengele.
The findings prompted an investigative committee to be formed in order to review the samples. The committee has begun identifying some of the victims with the eventual goal of burying them in a mass grave, a process that could take years.
The Institute published a statement on its website after the discovery.
“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,” the statement said.
The Yad Vashem World Center for Holocaust Research was not previously aware of the existence of the remains at the Institute, the report said.
“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,” Professor Dan Machman, Director of the International Center for Holocaust Research at the museum, told Army Radio.
“This [discovery] is something new that was previously unknown, and joins other events that are suddenly uncovered after 70 years,” he said. “Whoever thought this chapter was completely finished is mistaken. It’s hard to know if these samples are exclusively from ‘mercy killings’ [i.e., the murder of sick people for the purposes of experimentation] or if they also derive from other sources,” he added.