Jewish women are rounded up by Nazis and Hungarian fascists, Wesselényi Street, Budapest, October 1944..
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA / GERMAN FEDERAL ARCHIVE)
A grizzly collection of experimented-on cadavers belonging to Jewish victims of the Holocaust were discovered in Stasbourg, France, AFP quoted local officials Saturday, 70-years after their untimely deaths at the hands of the Third Reich.
Eighty-six bodies in all were acquired by Nazi anatomy professor August Hirt in 1943 after their gas chamber executions and stored in a Strasbourg medical institute for over seven decades, leading to questions of why the disturbing collection was never divulged to local authorities until now.
The bodies, some burned and dismembered, others fully intact, were originally discovered in November 1944 after Strasbourg was liberated from Nazi occupation. It was thought the bodies had been buried in a common grave following their autopsies in 1946, according to AFP.
However, less than two weeks ago, historian Raphael Toledano rediscovered the remains of some of the victims, managing to identify several of the body parts, including “a jar containing skin fragments of a gas chamber victim.” Other macabre items such as test-tubes containing intestines were also found.
According to Toledano's research, in light of the atrocities the Nazi regime perpetrated against European Jewry, military authorities had tasked forensic professor Camille Simonin to preserve the bodies in order to "establish the conditions that had led to [their] deaths” as part of an investigation into Hirt's crimes.
Toledano was given a clue as to the location of the remains in a letter written by Simonin in 1952, which “mentioned the jars containing the samples taken in the course of judicial autopsies carried out on the Jewish victims of the Struthof gas chamber,” AFP reports.
Local authorities aim to return the newly-discovered remains back to the Jewish community in Strasbourg.
Hirt committed suicide in July 1945, before the Nuremberg trials.