Is a French university holding remains of Holocaust victims?

Team of experts discovers 20 boxes with human bones suspected of belonging to murdered Jews in a French university's vaults.


French university
French university

The University of Strasbourg in France may be holding the remains of Holocaust victims in its collection of anatomical specimens, an international team of researchers said.

The team of historians and specialists, including from Oxford University in the United Kingdom, said this at a press conference earlier this month at the French institution. It was the conclusion of two years of research following the discovery and burial of remains of murdered Jews that had been brought to Strasbourg when it was under Nazi occupation.

The existence of the remains of dozens of Holocaust victims at Strasbourg University had been regarded as a rumor and denied by the university for decades. But in 2015, a book written by historian Michel Cymes proved this, leading to the location of remains of 86 Jews.

Their remains were brought to burial that year but the experts panel said this month additional human remains belonging to holocaust victims may be present in the university’s vaults, requiting meticulous examination. The team has discovered 20 boxes with bones they suspect belonged to Jews because the boxes were tied to August Hirt, according to a report earlier this month published by the news site France Bleu.

An SS captain who served as chairman of the Reich University in Strasbourg – the institution’s name under Nazi occupation, he committed suicide in 1945 after commissioning the preservation and transportation of the remains of dozens of Holocaust victims murdered by the Nazis in East Europe.

The vice president of the university, Mathieu Schneider, told France Bleu he intended to implement the recommendations of the research team, which found that under Hirt there was “an intensification” of work designed to support Nazi race theories in the years 1943-1944.

“We need to find all the pieces of this puzzle and from there on present a coherent overview, which would allow us also to teach our students an important lessons about medical ethics,” he added.