"Medical Research on the Victims of 'Euthanasia': Carl Schneider and the Heidelberg “Research Children” 1942-1945"

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Maike Rotzoll (University of Heidelberg) and Gerrit Hohendorf (Technical University of Munich)

"Medical Research on the Victims of 'Euthanasia': Carl Schneider and the Heidelberg “Research Children” 1942-1945"

(Introduced by: Sheldon Rubenfeld, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston)



This paper was presented to the international symposium:

"Reassessing Nazi Human Experiments and Coerced Research, 1933-1945: New Findings, Interpretations and Problems"

4 - 7 July 2013, Wadham College, Oxford


Convened by Paul Weindling (Oxford Brookes University), Marius Turda (Oxford Brookes University), and Volker Roelcke (University of Giessen).

Kindly funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and the University of Giessen


Abstract: It is common knowledge that neuropathological and pathological-anatomical research was conducted on the body parts of the victims of National Socialist “euthanasia” after they had been murdered. The victims’ brains in particular were to be used for research purposes. It is less well known that the operational headquarters for the organization of the “euthanasia” program at number 4 Tiergarten street maintained two research departments, one in Brandenburg-Görden and one in Heidelberg, in which children, youths, and young adults were subjected to a comprehensive clinical, psychological and hereditary examination program before the decision was made whether or not to murder them. This paper deals with the Heidelberg-Wiesloch research department under the direction of Heidelberg professor of psychiatry Carl Schneider. He wanted to examine the “problems of idiocy and epilepsy” and take advantage of the opportunity to correlate clinical, radiographical and psychological testing research results selectively and quickly with the findings from the post-mortem examination of the brain. Of the 52 children and youths examined in the Heidelberg hospital, 21 were murdered in the paediatric department of the Eichberg state asylum so that their brains could be examined in Heidelberg. A memorial in front of the Heidelberg hospital since 1998 reminds us of the murdered children and youth.



Gerrit Hohendorf has been a specialist researcher in psychiatry and psychotheraphy since 2006 at the Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine, Munich. His research interests include Medicine under National Socialism, the history of psychiatry, and autonomy at the end of life.


Maike Rotzoll is a member of the Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine at the University of Heidelberg. In 1994 she was awarded a PhD in medical history. Since 2005 she has been a Research Associate at the Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine.



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