Over the course of the Hitler regime in Germany, an estimated 6 million people were killed in concentration camps. Another 12,00 to 16,000 civilians were executed. And the dreadful fate of some of those bodies might surprise you: thousands of them were distributed to scientists for various research projects, some of which still play a key role in modern medicine.
In a stunning report at Slate, Emily Bazelon explores the disturbing history of Nazi-era anatomy research, and unravels the stories of those who conducted it as well as those whose bodies were shuttled to 31 different laboratories throughout Germany. Far from winding up "in the dustbin of history," Bazelon finds that some of the work still carries import today — from spawning a widely-used anatomy atlas to inspiring the dubious claims of some anti-abortion Republicans. And as Bazelon notes, we still don't know the full extent of the research that occurred, nor have many of the people executed by Hitler and used for medical investigations been identified.