Munich Scientific Institute Finds Remains of Brains From Nazi Experiments on Humans

The Max Planck Institute, which is now attempting to identify the victims, says it is not clear if any of the newly discovered tissue belonged to Jews.

Nazi brain researcher Julius Hallervorden
Wikipedia / Berlin ausgestellter Ausweis

In the course of construction and reorganization of the branch of the Max Planck scientific institute in Munich, dozens of human brains and portions of brains from experiments conducted during World War II, including many apparently from Jewish victims, have been discovered, Israeli Army Radio reported on Wednesday.

The institute told the Times of Israel website, however, that it is not clear if any of the victims are Jewish and an investigation is in progress.

For its part, the radio station said that a special investigating panel has been convened that is now looking into the identity of the people whose brains were found. The brains are apparently from people whom the Nazi regime murdered so that the experiments could be conducted upon them, included the mentally ill, opponents of the regime and children, Army Radio reported.

The staff at the Max Planck Institute in Munich, which is part of a network of such institutes in Germany and in other countries, had previously stated that any body tissue at the institute that had been taken from victims of the Nazi regime had been identified and buried in the 1990s. The recent findings appear to indicate otherwise, Army Radio said.

The newly found brain tissue is apparently from experiments conducted by Nazi brain researcher Julius Hallervorden, who not only conducted experiments on humans during the period during which the Nazis were in power but also after World War II, according to the radio station. For a time, he headed the neuropsychiatric department at an institution that later was later taken over by the Max Planck Institute.

Army Radio said the investigating panel is attempting to identify the subjects of the experiments before the tissue is buried in a common grave, as had been done with prior tissue, but the process could take time, even years.

The Planck Institute's statement on the matter, which was issued on its website in German only, stated: "We are embarrassed by these findings and stunned to find them in the archives [of the institute]," Army Radio said. The institute promised maximum transparency regarding future developments.