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November 27, 1996

Nazi Origins of an Anatomy Text: The Pernkopf Atlas

Author Affiliations

Columbia University New York, NY
University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario

JAMA. 1996;276(20):1633. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540200019010

To the Editor.  —The abuses of medicine perpetrated during the Hitler regime pervaded the entire medical profession of the Third Reich including the academic elite. One legacy of that tragic era endures today through the continued publication of a critically acclaimed atlas, Pernkopf Anatomy,1 named after the anatomist Professor Eduard Pernkopf of the University of Vienna. The original Pernkopf work contains more than 800 detailed paintings of dissections.2 A leading Nazi, Pernkopf became dean of the University of Vienna Faculty of Medicine after Germany annexed Austria in 1938.3 From that position he led the purge against the Jewish faculty in Vienna.4 Pernkopf s artists expressed their political sympathies by incorporating Nazi icons (such as the letters "SS" or a swastika) as part of their signatures in the original volume. Recent editions include paintings from the earlier volumes with most of the Nazi icons eliminated.The precise

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