President Markl apologizes to the victims of medical experiments during the Nazi era

2001

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Photo: Hubert Markl with Eva Mozes Kor at the symposium in 2011, Norbert Michalke/MPG.
Photo: Hubert Markl with Eva Mozes Kor at the symposium in 2011, Norbert Michalke/MPG.

The symposium on biological research and experiments on humans at the Kaiser Wilhelm institutes, held in Berlin, was a way for the Max Planck Society to deal with the past in an, admittedly, tardy but decisive manner. This conference brought together surviving victims of the National Socialist era, historians and representatives of the MPS around one table. On behalf of the MPS, President Hubert Markl opened the dialogue with the guests who had survived the inhuman biological experiments during the National Socialism. The commission of historians, appointed in 1997, had previously clearly proved that scientists from the Kaiser Wilhelm Society had taken part in the crimes of the Third Reich, either actively or by legitimising its ideology through scientific actions. In his speech, Markl emphasised that “the most sincere apology is the disclosure of guilt”. He thereby pointed the way for the MPS to assume responsibility for its past. However, Markl not offered a scientific perspective, he also found moving words to apologise personally to the survivors of the experiments on twins: “Only the perpetrator can really ask for forgiveness. Still, from the bottom of my heart I ask you, the surviving victims, for forgiveness on behalf of those who, irrespective of their reasons, failed to do so themselves.”

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