Authorities in the French city of Strasbourg have announced the disturbing discovery of forensic remains belonging to victims of the Nazi anatomist August Hirt, found in a medical research facility.
Several jars and test tubes containing skin fragments and other organs were uncovered at the Strasbourg Medical Institute on July 9 by researcher Raphael Toledano. The samples are believed to belong to some of the 86 prisoners at Auschwitz selected by Hirt to be transported to a laboratory at Reich University in Strasbourg after being gassed at Natzweiler-Struthof in 1943.
Records show that the Nazi had 79 Jewish men, 30 Jewish women, 2 Poles and 4 Asians selected from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1943 and sent to the Natzweiler-Struthof camp where they were killed in the gas chambers. 86 bodies were then transported to Strasbourg where Hirt acted as Chairman at Reich University.
Hirt’s plan was to use Jewish skeletons in a collection to display the “racial inferiority of the Jewish race”. The public display was to be located at Reich University. According to various letters and records, prisoners selected for Hirt’s program were chosen due to their stereotypical racial characteristics.
However, the liberation of Strasbourg in 1944 prevented Hirt from ever completing his project. The bodies, in various states, were found preserved in alcohol and later buried and laid to rest in 1946.
Over 70 years after their death, skin fragments, intensine and a stomach were found in test tubes by Toledano. The samples were reportedly kept by forensic professor Camille Simonin who was investigating Hirt’s crimes after the war. Each item was labelled with number 107969, the number tattooed on Menachem Taffel, one of the victims selected at Auschwitz.
The human remains will be returned to the Strasbourg Jewish community and buried.
August Hirt was never tried for his crimes during World War Two as he committed suicide by a gunshot to the head in July 1945. His partner, Wolfram Sievers, was sentenced to death during the Nuremberg Trials and hanged in June 1948. His other partner, Bruno Beger, was convicted as an accessory to 86 murders but never served time in prison. He died in 2009.