The various editions of Pernkopf's Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy are based on the original version, Topographische Anatomie des Menschen, published in German in four volumes between 1937 and 1957. Its author, the anatomist Eduard Pernkopf (1888- 1955) was a high-ranking Austrian National Socialist. As dean of the Medical Faculty of Vienna, he was co-responsible for the expulsion of hundreds of Jewish scientists and students from the university. Between 1943 and 1945, he held one of the highest academic positions in Nazi-controlled Austria as rector of the University of Vienna.


What is more, the Vienna Institute of Anatomy, which Pernkopf headed, received during the war the bodies of at least 1377 people executed by the regime, many for their political views or acts of resistance, including at least seven Jewish victims. An investigation commissioned by the University of Vienna in 1997/98 came to the conclusion that in all likelihood, a considerable number of the paintings produced for Pernkopf's Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy during and after the war are based on the bodies of these victims. Also, as a symbol of allegiance to National Socialism, some original illustrations were marked with Nazi symbols such as swastikas by the painters. These signs were sometimes retouched in later editions.


Due to the anonymization of the bodies and war-time losses of the original documentation, it is impossible to determine which illustrations in the atlas are based on victims of National Socialist persecution and repression.


Against this background, the publishers (originally Urban & Schwarzenberg, later acquired by Elsevier) decided to stop both printing Pernkopf's Atlas and licensing the use of its illustrations.


It is our conviction that out of respect for the victims of National Socialist persecution, Pernkopf's Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy should preferably no longer be used in medical teaching and training, although the decision ultimately rests with each individual user's responsibility.



Vienna, 1 July 2021


Markus Müller, Rector of the Medical University of Vienna


Christiane Druml, Director of the Department of Ethics, Collections and History of Medicine (Josephinum) and holder of the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics



(Please print and insert the PDF of this "Note to the Users of Pernkopf's Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy" in all volumes.)



About the Authors


Markus Müller, M.D. is Professor of Internal Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology. Since his appointment in 2015, he has served as President of the Medical University of Vienna.


Christiane Druml, LL.D., studied law at the University of Vienna. She holds the UNESCO Chair on Bioethics at the Medical University of Vienna and serves as Director of Ethics, Collections and History of Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna since 2016. Since the foundation of the Ludwig Boltzmann-Institute for Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases in 2016, she acts as Deputy Director and key researcher of the Bioethics Research Group. In 2007, she was appointed as President of the Austrian National Bioethics Commission by the Austrian Federal Chancellor. She is a member of the Corona Task Force of the Federal Minister of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection of the Republic of Austria and serves furthermore in many international functions.



Markus Müller, Univ.Prof, M.D.

Rector of the Medical University of Vienna


Christiane Druml, LL.D.

Medical University of Vienna

Department of Ethics, Collections, and History of Medicine (Josephinum)




The authors have chosen to license this content under a Creative Commons Attribution, NonCommercial, NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.



Conflict of InterestThe Journal of Biocommunication Management Board and Editors believe that transparency in academic research is essential. Our JBC authors are now required to disclose any possible conflict of interest when submitting a manuscript. In accordance with the Journal of Biocommunication's editorial policy, no potential conflict of interest has been reported or declared by this authors.