Human remains kept by Nazi doctor set for Berlin burial: report | News | DW | 14.04.2019
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Human remains kept by Nazi doctor set for Berlin burial: report

Tissue from the mainly female victims of the Nazi-era will finally be laid to rest next month, a German newspaper reports. Hermann Stieve carried out contentious research on the effects of stress on women.

More than 300 tissue samples from people killed by the Nazi regime will be buried during a ceremony in Berlin next month.

The Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported that the tiny samples were discovered in 2016 in the estate of anatomy professor Hermann Stieve, whose research on the effects of stress on the female reproductive system remains controversial.

The samples — most less than a millimeter long — were found in small black boxes, and some were labeled with the names of the victims, Bild said.

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Stieve, who worked at the University of Berlin, received the bodies of German anti-Nazi fighters for dissection, sometimes just minutes after they were killed at the Berlin-Ploetznesee prison.

He is thought to have received 182 victims, 174 of whom were women. Among his subjects were 13 of the 18 women decapitated by the Nazis for their work in the Red Chapel resistance group, Bild reported.

Some accounts of his work suggest he used record-keeping from the prison to evaluate how the women had coped with their prison sentence and reacted to their death sentences. 

Work fueled many false rumors

However, reports that Stieve ordered the death of prison inmates according to their menstrual cycle, or that SS officers were encouraged to rape some prisoners to help study sperm migration, have been debunked.

After Stieve dissected the bodies, they were mostly cremated and interred, sometimes in mass graves.

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The tiny samples were given to Berlin's Charite hospital, which commissioned a study by Johannes Tuchel, director of the Berlin-based Memorial to the German Resistance, a copy of which was obtained by Bild.

Tuchel's research showed that Stieve had a driver pick up the bodies of resistance fighters at the prison and that he had
a particular interest in the bodies of young women since he was researching menstruation.

"By burying the anatomical specimens, we want to help restore dignity to the victims," Charite CEO Karl Max Einhäupl said.

The burial ceremony will take place on May 13 at Berlin's Dorotheenstädtischer cemetery, 74 years after the end of World War Two.

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