The New York Medical College (NYMC) community commemorated Yom Hashaoh, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on April 17. Guest speaker Howard Israel gave a presentation on the role of Nazi medicine in the holocaust.
Israel is a professor of clinical surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, adjunct professor and course director for pain and anxiety control at Touro College of Dental Medicine at NYMC and director of the New York Institute of Clinical Oral Pathology. He is regarded as an important voice in bioethics for his key role in recognizing the Nazi origins of the classic illustrated anatomy atlas, “Pernkopf’s Anatomy.”
As a student in the 1970s, he first became familiar with the atlas and its detailed paintings. Later, he heard a rumor about its author being a Nazi and the bodies of holocaust victims being used by artists who did the illustrations.
Israel publicly raised questions about the ethics of continuing to use the atlas and his perseverance resulted in an official investigation of the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Vienna where the author, Eduard Pernkopf, was the director.