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How and why the Association of Anatomists expelled undesirables after 1945

Neuruppin, 8 December 2016

The Association of Anatomists honours Prof. Andreas Winkelmann’s exploration of “how the Association of Anatomists expelled undesired members after 1945” as Paper of the Month. According to Winkelmann, the Association of Anatomists increasingly addressed the darker chapters of its own history over the past years: “It became apparent that the Association of Anatomists was certainly no resistance organization in the Third Reich. But what also emerged was that compared to other medical societies its marked international orientation prevented utter political conformity.”

Winkelmann had access to newly available archive material for his study on the post-war history of the Association of Anatomists. He found explicit board resolutions from 1949 and 1952 to permanently exclude six former members from admission to the re-established association. His paper outlines a number of different reasons for the exclusions. Summing up the results of his research, Winkelmann points out that these exclusions aimed not so much at denazifying the association; other formerly proactive Nazis were re-integrated without serious objections after 1949. Primary issues were infringements of existing hierarchies and of an unspoken code of honour which regulated admission to the circle of established anatomists.

Prof. Winkelmann welcomes this recognition of his historical research as clear indication that the Association of Anatomists is honest with facing its own history.

Under the heading Paper of the Month the Association of Anatomists publishes new and interesting research findings from members and sponsors on a regular basis. The selection of papers for the format was suggested by the association’s PR committee with the aim to make topics and results of anatomic research comprehensible and available to a wider public.

Here is Prof. Winkelmann’s paper.

Bonn 1949: Association of Anatomists, newly founded (group photo)

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