List of medical eponyms with Nazi associations

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This article lists medical eponyms which have been associated with Nazi human experimentation or Nazi politics. While normally eponyms used in medicine serve to honor the memory of the physician or researcher who first documented a disease or pioneered a procedure, the propriety of such names resulting from unethical research practices is controversial. In some cases terms closely related to doctors in the Nazi era have fallen out of favor or there are active lobbying efforts to remove the original name from use. In other cases their use in the medical literature is sometimes presented with a caveat or footnote.

The declining use of the Nazi-era eponyms has itself been tracked in the literature.[1] Since 2007, the Israel Medical Association Journal[2] and European Neurology[3] have each published articles cataloging eponyms honoring Nazis and their collaborators. While the most direct Nazi experimenters (such as Josef Mengele) were never honored, others who were members of the Nazi party or whose research relied upon the Nazi program—such as conducting research on the remains of Nazi execution victims—have been honored.

Some physicians have used the Nazi associations as an argument to discontinue the use of eponyms in medical naming conventions altogether,[4] while others have argued that such Nazi-associated eponyms should be retained as "a means of conveying immortal dishonor."[5] Both the Israel Medical Association Journal and European Neurology articles advocated that eponyms honoring victims of the Nazis be retained, while eponyms honoring Nazi collaborators or benefactors be replaced.

List of eponyms[edit]

Term Replacement term Named after Nazi association of term
Asperger syndrome Autism spectrum disorder Hans Asperger Hans Asperger "managed to accommodate himself to the Nazi regime and was rewarded for his affirmations of loyalty with career opportunities. He joined several organizations affiliated with the NSDAP (although not the Nazi party itself), publicly legitimized race hygiene policies including forced sterilizations and, on several occasions, actively cooperated with the child 'euthanasia' program."[6]

Beck–Ibrahim disease Congenital cutaneous candidiasis Yusuf Ibrahim Ibrahim was discovered after the war to have supported and actively participated in the Nazi euthanasia program.[2]
Cauchois–Eppinger–Frugoni syndrome Portal vein thrombosis Hans Eppinger "[Eppinger] conducted cruel experiments on Romani prisoners in the Dachau concentration camp in order to test the potability of seawater. ... Eppinger committed suicide with poison on 25 September 1946, one month before he was scheduled to testify in Nuremberg."[2]
Clara cell Club cell Max Clara Max Clara "owed his career advancement in no small way to his membership in the Nazi party and active support of its programme." In his 1937 paper, Clara acknowledges that the sample he based his work on "was obtained from a prisoner executed by the Nazi 'justice system'"[7][8]
Hallervorden–Spatz disease Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration Julius Hallervorden, Hugo Spatz "[Julius Hallervorden] readily admitted that 697 brains he investigated during the Nazi period were from victims of euthanasia. It is alleged that he was present at the killing of more than 60 children and adolescents in the Brandenburg Psychiatric Institution on 28 October 1940. He was reported to have removed brain material himself from euthanasia victims in a nearby extermination (euthanasia) center." (and see Spatz-Stiefler reaction below)[2][3]
Reiter's syndrome Reactive arthritis Hans Conrad Julius Reiter "During World War II, Reiter, a physician leader of the Nazi party, authorized medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners. Because of this, some physicians have argued against further use of the Reiter eponym."[1]
Seitelberger disease Infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy Franz Seitelberger (de) "Franz Seitelberger, a Vienna neurologist and former member of the SS, [...] although never involved in the planning or execution of NS-euthanasia, benefited from it scientifically during the post-war period. Examining the brains of 3 ‘euthanasia’ victims from the Landesanstalt Görden in Brandenburg, Seitelberger earned his PhD in 1954 under the supervision of Julius Hallervorden."[3]
Spatz–Stiefler reaction Paralysis agitans reaction Hugo Spatz, Georg Stiefler "Under Spatz's control and direction, the brain research institute collaborated with the killing institute at Brandenburg-Gorden, obtaining hundreds of brains from the mentally ill of all ages."[2]
Van Bogaert–Scherer–Epstein syndrome Cerebrotendineous xanthomatosis Hans Joachim Scherer (de) "During the war, [Scherer] worked at the Neurology Institute in Breslau, Silesia. Here Scherer was directly involved in neuropathological brain analyses of over 300 Polish and German children euthanized in the nearby Loben Psychiatric Clinic for Youth."[2][3]
Wegener's granulomatosis Granulomatosis with polyangiitis Friedrich Wegener "The facts we have uncovered do not prove Dr Friedrich Wegener guilty of war crimes. However, the evidence suggests that Dr Wegener was, at least at some point of his career, a follower of the Nazi regime. Dr Wegener's mentor, Martin Staemmler, was an ardent supporter of the racial hygiene. In addition, our data indicate that Dr Wegener was wanted by Polish authorities and that his files were forwarded to the United Nations War Crimes Commission. Finally, Dr Wegener worked in close proximity to the genocide machinery in Lodz."[9]


  1. ^ a b Wu, Dave A.; Kenneth A. Katz (October 2005). "Declining Use of the Eponym "Reiter's syndrome" in the Medical Literature, 1998-2003". Journal of the American Association of Dermatology. 53 (4): 720. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2005.06.048.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Strous, Rael D.; Morris C. Edelman (March 2007). "Eponyms and the Nazi Era: Time to Remember and Time For Change" (PDF). Israel Medical Association Journal. 9 (3): 207–214. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  3. ^ a b c d Kondziella, Daniel (2009). "Thirty Neurological Eponyms Associated with the Nazi Era". European Neurology. 62 (1): 56–64. doi:10.1159/000215880. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  4. ^ Woywodt, Alexander; Eric Matteson (2007). "Should Eponyms be Abandoned? Yes". British Medical Journal. 335 (7617): 424. doi:10.1136/bmj.39308.342639.AD. PMC 1962844. PMID 17762033. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  5. ^ Leach, John Paul (April 24, 2003). "Correspondence: Hallervorden and History". The New England Journal of Medicine. 348: 1725–1726. doi:10.1056/NEJM200304243481721. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
  6. ^ Czech, H (April 2018). "Hans Asperger, National Socialism, and "race hygiene" in Nazi-era Vienna". Molecular Autism (Review). 9 (29). doi:10.1186/s13229-018-0208-6. PMID 29713442.
  7. ^ Woywodt, A.; S. Lefrak; E. Matteson (October 1, 2010). "Tainted Eponyms in Medicine: the "Clara" Cell Joins the List". European Respiratory Journal. 36 (4): 704–706. doi:10.1183/09031936.00046110. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
  8. ^ Winkelmann, A.; T. Noack (October 1, 2010). "The Clara Cell: a "Third Reich eponym"?". European Respiratory Journal. 36 (4): 722–727. doi:10.1183/09031936.00146609. PMID 20223917. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
  9. ^ Woywodt, A.; E. L. Matteson (2006-08-03). "Wegener's Granulomatosis—Probing the Untold Past of the Man Behind the Eponym". Rheumatology. 45 (10): 1303–1306. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kel258. PMID 16887845. Retrieved 2010-10-28.

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