Pleading for Cadavers

Medical Students at the University of Vienna and the Study of Anatomy


  • Natalia Aleksiun


close reading, medical students at the University of Vienna, medical cadavers, 1924 memorandum, antisemitism, visibility of Jewish students, Medical Department


This paper offers a close reading of a memorandum submitted by the medical students at the University of Vienna in January 1924. In the document, the students vividly described a crisis caused by insufficient supply of the so called medical cadavers, which disturbed the training of future physicians. In order to solve the crisis effectively, the students pled for introducing new procedures that forced transfer of cadavers of all patients who had passed away either in hospitals, other institutions or private houses who had not been claimed by family members.
Remarkably, the 1924 memorandum underscored not only the urgency of the crisis that required an immediate solution but also the non-partisan character of the appeal, signed by the students of the First and Second Institutes of Anatomy “with no difference of party affiliation”. It underplayed the presence of antisemitism at the University of Vienna and the hostility against visibility of Jewish students at the Medical Department. The paper suggests that the memorandum ought to be understood in the context of the so-called cadaver affair at other universities in Central and Eastern Europe.


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How to Cite

Aleksiun, Natalia. 2019. “Pleading for Cadavers: Medical Students at the University of Vienna and the Study of Anatomy”. S: I.M.O.N. Shoah: Intervention. Methods. Documentation. 2 (2):4-10.