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Issues in Dermatology
May 2001

On First Looking Into Pernkopf's Atlas (Part 1)

Arch Dermatol. 2001;137(5):549-551. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Dermatol.-ISSN-0003-987x-137-5-did10004

While conducting an inventory of our department's library, I found 2 volumes of Topographische Anatomie des Menschen (Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy), compiled by Eduard Pernkopf. This magnificently illustrated work has been hailed as one of the most important anatomic atlases since the work of Vesalius. My discovery presented a quandary because of the manner in which Pernkopf allegedly acquired cadavers for the atlas' illustrators. Pernkopf, an anatomy professor at the University of Vienna—and an ardent Nazi—was instated as dean of the medical school days after Hitler's Germany annexed Austria. Pernkopf arranged for the bodies of nearly 1400 people executed by the Gestapo, mostly for political reasons, to serve as models for the atlas' drawings.1

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