‘Are the bones found on the campus of the Free University of Berlin the remains of Dr Mengele’s concentration camp victims? Very likely. However, the university authorities are blocking further excavations,’ writes the Berliner Zeitung on Sunday. The vice-chancellor is doing everything to make the issue go away quickly, the daily argues, recalling the “disappearing bones” and controversial actions of the university authorities.
On July 1, 2014, construction workers while working on the campus of the Free University of Berlin (FU) came across a pit filled to the brim with human bones. Investigators from the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the Charité clinic examined the find and determined, “It is about 250 litres of bone fragments,” which were found in seven paper bags, “mainly of human origin,” both children and from adults. They had been in the ground for decades. Also found among the bones were “ten round plastic labels in different colours” with handwritten numbers.
Mengele and his former boss, Professor Ottmar von Verschuer, who headed the KWIA, called the bones, eyes, blood samples and organs of the murdered, hundreds of whom were shipped from Auschwitz to Berlin, especially in 1944, “scientific material.” Verschuer, Mengele and others were engaged in research on “physical anomalies” at this time.
The Rector of the Free University of Berlin in 2014, Peter-André Alt, and his staff knew this, but not the police and forensic experts. The University’s management “knowingly, semi-knowingly or negligently” failed to inform the departments involved and the public of the likely background to the find.
‘As I suspect, FU’s quest for the title of “excellent university” was more important than many other things at the time. Words such as “Mengele”, “murdered Jews” or “Auschwitz” were considered inappropriate in this context’
– writes Götz Aly in the Berliner Zeitung
Forensic experts (…) in their expert report came to unambiguous conclusions: ‘The labels found to resemble the markings for biological/medical specimens, so given the location of the bones in the soil and the incompleteness of the skeletons, they may be remains.’
At the latest, the university authorities should have been alerted and ordered a further investigation
– we can read in the article.
Instead, ‘the bones lay for months until, on December 12, 2014, they were quietly destroyed at the crematorium in Ruhleben and deposited “anonymously’ in the ground next to the crematorium’s basement window. The plaster casts of human limbs that were found have also disappeared without a trace,” writes the Berliner Zeitung.
Only a few forensic photographs survived from the first find. “They show a high proportion of vertebral, femoral and pelvic bones. This also points in the direction of Auschwitz,” the newspaper notes. In his memoirs, Mengele’s surviving forced assistant, Hungarian-Jewish physician Miklós Nyiszli, described in great detail how the scientific killings took place.
At FU, “it is increasingly claimed that the finds may also date from the colonial period. Such a collection, belonging to the anthropologist Felix von Luschan, was held by the former Kaiser Wilhelm-Institut. In 1943, however, it was moved to northern Hesse, where it survived the war unscathed,” the paper stresses.
Pollock also managed to establish that “the pit was dug in great haste, filled with sacks full of bones, and then very quickly – presumably because of the approaching Red Army – backfilled.” Based on this observation, Pollock and Bernbeck concluded that the entire site of the former Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, which is still undeveloped today, should be investigated.
One would think that this observation, based on sound archaeological knowledge, should necessarily lead to the continuation of excavations on the site of the former Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. However, the rector of the Free University of Berlin (…) counters this. Instead, it promotes scattered commemorative activities designed to make people forget what else might be hidden in the subsoil of the garden of this Nazi institute
– writes the author.