France buries Holocaust victims' secretly conserved remains
Sep. 06, 2015
STRASBOURG, France (AP) — For seven decades, the remains of several Holocaust victims were kept in jars and test tubes locked up in a French medical school. On Sunday, they were buried at last.
Several hundred people gathered Sunday for a somber ceremony near the eastern French city of Strasbourg to pay respect to the victims, throwing earth on a single coffin holding the collective remains. Led by Strasbourg chief rabbi Rene Gutman and attended by Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries, the event at the Cronenbourg cemetery was aimed at closing a troubling chapter in the region's history.
The remains, such as skin samples, belonged to a few people. Only one has been definitively identified: Menachem Taffem, a Polish Jew deported to Auschwitz and gassed to death.
They were among 86 people whose corpses were sent to the anatomy institute at the University of Strasbourg during World War II for the experiments of August Hirt, a notorious Nazi anatomy researcher.
Some remains were buried after the war, but a few were saved and even put on display, kept for legal and scientific purposes, according to French media reports.
Then they were apparently forgotten — until researcher Raphael Toledano, who has studied Strasbourg's Nazi past, discovered a 1952 letter mentioning samples taken from the bodies of Holocaust victims and detailing how they were stored. In July, he and the institute's director found a remaining jar and test tubes behind a glass cupboard in a locked room.