A researcher in France recently uncovered tissue samples in the eastern French city of Strasbourg of 86 Jews killed in gas chambers and used in experiments conducted by the infamous Nazi scientist August Hirt.
For more than 10 years, researcher Raphael Toledano has investigated the Nazi history of the town, but his latest discovery came on July 9 after he and the institute's director Sebastien Raul opened a cupboard that contained the labeled samples of victims' skin, intestine, and stomach.
"The labels identify each piece with precision and mention the register 107969, which matches the number tattooed at the Auschwitz camp on the forearm of Menachem Taffel, one of the 86 victims," according to a statement about the latest revelation, AFP reported.
The discovery stemmed from a note Toledano found, which was written in 1952 by the University of Strasbourg's forensic science school director Camille Simonin. The letter outlined the storage details of the jars containing the tissue samples with the aim of using them as evidence in a legal case against Hirt. The remains were kept behind a glass cupboard in the university's closed collection in a locked room. Simonin was put in charge of performing autopsies on the victims to determine the cause of death, according to AFP.
Hirt had called for the construction of a gas chamber solely for the purpose of killing people to be used for his experiments. The dozens of Jews whose remains were discovered this month in Strasbourg had been taken there and delivered to the anatomy researcher from the gas chamber in Germany after they were killed in 1943.
Hirt killed himself in 1944 when Americans liberated the French town, and the human remains eventually landed in a museum at the university — now a prominent medical school. No one was aware of his death, however, and people assumed he had simply gone into hiding. As a result, Hirt was put on trial in absentia in France in 1952. The note about the tissue samples made it to a judge, but it's unclear if he ever responded.
"It was a shock to discover that these jars were still there, that we put in a museum display a part of these Jews who were murdered by the Nazis," Toledano said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.