There is a medical atlas of anatomy created by a physician, Eduard Pernkopf. It is a textbook in which artists were used to create illustrations useful for teaching medical students dissection techniques. Considered a masterpiece, it has been extremely influential ever since its inception and still is relevant for today.
A major problem emerged in the 1990s when the atlas came under fire surrounding the source of some of its illustrations. The accusation was that some of the cadavers which were used for the illustrations came from Jews who had been recently killed in the camps and then sent to Pernkopf’s facilities for dissection and for the illustrations for his textbook.
This became an ethical dilemma on many levels and has never been completely settled, and besides, the issue has been highlighted again due to comparisons to the Planned Parenthood videos regarding the harvesting of baby body parts!
One of the links above mentions that some of the artists signatures on the illustrations bore the marks of Nazi symbols, i.e. swastikas and SS initials e.g.:
This helped raise the possibility that some of the cadavers in the textbook could have been Jews. It should be noted that exact identification of those cadavers with any particular Jewish victims of the Nazi regime has not occurred. But there is a strong circumstantial element, so much so, that calls for the discontinuance of this text, no matter the benefit it has offered to many medical students, was called for, and if institutions did continue to use it–that the historical associations with Nazi influence should be appropriately noted.
What then, are some of the circumstantial factors which “taint” this text? First, Pernkopf joined the Nazi party in 1933 and the Storm-Troopers in 1934, he became Dean of the medical school in 1938, secondly, as Dean he expelled all the Jews for refusing to swear loyalty to Hitler, this was 77% of the faculty! Third, he lectured about supporting the Nazi racial theories and views, fourthly, the first artists he employed were Nazis who often highlighted their signatures with Nazi symbols as mentioned above, and lastly, about 1377 bodies of people who were murdered by the Nazis were delivered to Pernkopf’s school concerning which, he gladly accepted them. Is this proof that some of these bodies were Jews? Many people think the likelihood is great!
Another notable occurrence of the Nazi era concerns the number of doctors who joined the Nazi organization. As many as 45% of physicians joined the Nazi Party, some before Hitler and others afterwards. In contrast, 7% of teachers joined. The rate of physicians joining the Nazi Party was far greater than any other group. Why?
Did the desire for the perfect Aryan race induce interest? Did the prospect for “free” medical research on those Germany deemed “unworthy” become too much of a temptation? Did the German physicians who participated in the Nazi horrors just plainly wanted to get rid of Jews and other undesirables as efficiently as possible? Not all doctors participated in the horrors, but it is clear that without many of these doctor’s efforts, the atrocities would not have been as bad!
There is a similarity between the whole Nazi mindset, specifically towards Jews, and Planned Parenthood’s “rationale” for its selling of baby parts! Robert Jay Lifton wrote a book entitled “The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide”.
This book tries to discover the rationale and methods used so the Final Solution of the Jews could be accomplished. There was so many inhumane atrocities committed that there had to be many psychological mechanisms brought to bear upon the individual who participated. Planned Parenthood with its justifications also illustrate the “distancing” that is required to justify taking and murdering innocent human life! A lot of the following ideas referring to the Nazis are from this very enlightening book.
One of the paradoxes the Nazis had developed was the “healing-killing paradox (chp. 20 of Lifton). In their twisted logic they somehow felt that the killing of these Jews was a kind of healing process at the same time, a purifying of humanity, etc.
Planned Parenthood doctors also illustrate this same function as they regard the destruction of the baby in the womb as a healing, something that brings relief to the mother. Also eugenic motives arise as many abortions are performed on the poor with the idea that a child born into poverty is detrimental to the mother and society.
How were the possible psychological ramifications, which all this killing the Nazi doctors accomplished, managed? One of the ways was by euphemism. This gave a way for the mind to create “distance” from the actual actions and its consequences on the mind. Euphemisms were used which suggested that a “medical” action, which is what doctors do after all, was being accomplished by the killing. An example would be the gassing of Jews, which was referred to as an “extermination”, as if they were just insects undergoing a fumigation process!
Abortion advocates, and Planned parenthood, also have their euphemisms also, which evidently works well , as was clearly seen in the first Planned parenthood video, which showed a doctor eating salad and drinking wine, casually talking about the baby body parts industry, fueled by abortion! Most of these euphemisms we are aware of, and some introspection may make us pause in horror as we may perceive how much all of us have been influenced by that! The most basic euphemism is “fetus”, but even then these abortion doctors find themselves slipping and refer to the aborted fetus as a “baby” as some of the videos have shown. Other euphemisms are “reproductive health”, “women’s healthcare”, and so on. And now a new kind of “distancing” has occurred due to the rise of genetic testing, even for babies in the womb. If certain “undesirable” traits such as diseases or other disabilities are found, then that abortion is viewed at as being a service, not only to the mother, but to society. This is the Nazi-doctor way of thinking!
Another aspect of the Nazi doctors actions were the experiments. These are well-documented, e.g. Mengele’s twins experiments. Lifton, in his book, says that “Nazi medical experiments fall into two categories: those sponsored by the regime for a specific ideological and military purpose, and those that were done ad hoc out of allegedly scientific interest on the part of an SS doctor” (pg. 269). Also, Joichim Fest, a German historian, said of that Himmler that he wished to see himself “not as a murderer but a patron of science”. The ends somehow justify the means?
Planned Parenthood has been in the news lately because of videos purportedly showing them deliberately harvesting baby body parts for sale to institutions which conduct scientific research. The videos seems to show a number of illegal activities connected to the procurement of these body parts, namely profit making and technique changes to ensure better quality “specimens”. While they deny any legal wrongdoing, the whole spectacle and barbarism associated with their actions shown on the videos has drawn a determined defense from their spokesmen. Their strongest defense, or justification, for the harvesting of the parts is that these actions are necessary for medical research. Supposedly major breakthroughs in many fields may be possible by using these body parts for science. And since the remains would be disposed of anyway, then why not use for a social benefit? So, like Himmler, a question we as a society need to ask is whether they are “murderers” or “patrons of science”?
Many other things can be cited to show the similarity between the structure of Nazi thinking and the thinking of the abortion industry. History does repeat itself, despite the warnings of George Santayana! The Anatomy textbook of Pernkopf was made possible by using cadavers from many people who had been killed by the Nazi regime. If Jews were actually used, it would make the text even more tainted. Does the Textbook justify the killing which made it possible? No! But the textbook is still being used, as a kind of redemption, a way of honoring those who inadvertently were “sacrificed” for greater knowledge. That is why it is important to some that the history of the textbook’s possible Nazi connections also be emphasized, it may become a way to prevent a future similar occurrence!
But today, with the baby body parts issue happening before our eyes, do we have to still act similarly? Do we justify the abortion industry’s arguments that discarding their remains as garbage is bad? No! The only reason the Pernkopf Anatomy textbook is used is that the Nazi regime is long gone! This Nazi connection with the textbook was found much later and so a debate ensued about what to do with the existing knowledge. That is far different when atrocities are happening right in front of us. The excuse that it may benefit mankind in some kind of manner should be no excuse for its continuance. That is the ultimate kind of selfishness–we need to try to understand why! And besides, medical research doesn’t really need fetal tissue and it hasn’t been that beneficial anyway, other kinds of tissue can be utilized without killing a baby! This barbarism can be stopped if society and its politicians have the nerve and wherewithal to do it! Unfortunately, I don’t see it being stopped!
Looking ahead I see something very troubling having occurred in these the videos. The laughing! We know the first video showed such casualness in discussing these babies and their body parts that it made one feel queasy on the inside. I don’t know if I could eat a salad and drink wine and enjoy a good conversation about procuring body parts from babies and selling them. And video seven continues with jokes being made about different things, it makes one wonder how these people evolved to this point and one has to think about what they could be pushed to do, all in the name of science! I wonder how the Nazis laughed and made jokes–would it have been similar to what the videos show? This laughter is what I see as a troubling indicator for our future in this society. Something simple, but we have to try to understand what it takes for an individual to tear apart a baby with such care so that certain organs are preserved for the purpose of getting a good price in the market. And we have to understand how someone can still laugh afterwards!