A Human Paradox: The Nazi Legacy of Pernkopf's Anatomy Atlas (2021)

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Date
2021-03-19
Main contributors
Beckman, Emily; Hartsock, Jane A.
Summary
Lecture delivered by Emily S. Beckman, DMH (Director and Assistant Professor, Medical Humanities and Health Studies, IUPUI) and Jane A. Hartsock, JD, MA (Director of Clinical Ethics, Indiana University Health) on March 19, 2021. This event was sponsored by the John Shaw Billings History of Medicine Society, IU School of Medicine History of Medicine Student Interest Group, IUPUI Medical Humanities & Health Studies Program, and the Ruth Lilly Medical Library.

Eduard Pernkopf’s Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy is a four-volume anatomical atlas published between 1937 and 1963, and it is generally believed to be the most comprehensive, detailed, and accurate anatomy textbook ever created. However, a 1997 investigation into “Pernkopf’s Atlas” raised troubling questions regarding the author’s connection to the Nazi regime and the still unresolved issue of whether its illustrations relied on Jewish or other political prisoners, including those executed in Nazi concentration camps. Following this investigation, the book was removed from both anatomy classrooms and library bookshelves. Having encountered a first edition copy at the Ruth Lilly Medical Library, these authors were given a unique opportunity to engage with the text through the respective humanities lenses of history, ethics, and narrative. In this talk, Beckman and Hartsock recount the difficult and somewhat opaque provenance of this book, engage the ethical questions surrounding both its creation and its use, and ultimately propose a pedagogical methodology for its continued use in medical education.
Contributor
Nelson, Elizabeth
Publisher
Ruth Lilly Medical Library
Genres
Educational; History; Lectures
Subjects
History of Medicine; Medical Humanities; Medical Ethics; Human Anatomy; National Socialism; Nazis; Human Experimentation in Medicine; Pernkopf, Eduard, 1888-1959
Location
Germany (nation)
Collection
History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Lectures
Unit
Ruth Lilly Medical Library
Rights Statement
In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted
Notes
Related Article:
Hartsock, J. A., & Beckman, E. S. (2019). A Human Paradox: The Nazi Legacy of Pernkopf’s Atlas. Conatus - Journal of Philosophy, 4(2), 317-339. http://hdl.handle.net/1805/23517

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