İstanbul’da Bir Nazi Doktor: Max Clara - Tıp Terörü Kurbanlarının PeşindeErdem Bagatur
Bu çalışmanın amacı, Max Clara’nın (1899–1966) İstanbul’daki yaşamının son dönemini (1950–1966) ve buradaki bilimsel faaliyetlerini incelemektir. Clara’nın nasyonal sosyalist dönemdeki ve öncesindeki kariyeri ayrıntılı olarak ortaya konulmuştur, ancak savaş sonrası dönemde akademik hayattan uzaklaştırılmasını izleyen son yılları, eski meslektaşları ve akademik dünya ile olan ilişkileri hakkında neredeyse hiçbir bilgi mevcut değildir. Bu çalışmada, Max Clara’nın İstanbul’daki hayatı, İstanbul Üniversitesi Arşivi’ndeki birincil kaynaklara dayandırılarak belgelenmiştir. Arşiv belgeleri, İstanbul Üniversitesi’nin tarihi ve Türkiye’deki mülteci akademisyenler hakkında mevcut literatür, Clara hakkındaki literatür ve Clara’nın yayınlarının analizleriyle desteklenmiştir. Ayrıca, Clara’nın Almanya’dan getirdiği histolojik ve anatomik materyal alındığı nasyonal sosyalist dönem kurbanlarının kimliklerine ulaşmak amacıyla bulunmaya çalışılmıştır. Max Clara’nın İstanbul yıllarında hayatı, akademik çalışmaları ve dış dünya ile ilişkileri açık ve kapsamlı bir şekilde gün ışığına çıkarılmıştır. Ancak üç bölüme ayrılan histolojik ve anatomik materyaline, materyalin yeni sahipleri olan üniversiteler ve öğretim üyelerinin isteksizliği nedeniyle ulaşılamamıştır. Clara’nın nasyonal sosyalist dönemde mahkumlar üzerinde tıbbi deneyler ve idam edilenlerin etik olmayan bir şekilde temin edilen bedenlerini kullanma gibi etik olmayan uygulamalara karıştığı ayrıntılarıyla ortaya çıkarılmıştır. Akademik yayınlarının analizi, kendi içlerinde büyük tutarsızlıklar ve çarpıtmalar olduğunu ve bu yayınların sanıldığı kadar önemli olmadığını ortaya koymuştur.
A Nazi Doctor in Istanbul: Max Clara and the Search for Victims of Medical TerrorErdem Bagatur
The present study aims to examine Max Clara’s (1899–1966) life and his scientific activities in Istanbul between 1950-1966. Clara’s career before and during the National Socialist era has been extensively studied. However, information is lacking regarding his later years and his relationships with his old colleagues and the academic world after being dismissed from academic life in the postwar period. This article presents information about Max Clara’s life in Istanbul based on primary sources kept at the Istanbul University Archives. Archival documents were supplemented by analyses on literature about the history of Istanbul University, refugee scholars in Turkey, Max Clara’s life, and his publications. Furthermore, the study attempted to find the histological and anatomical material Dr. Clara had brought with him from Germany in order to identify the National Socialist era victims from whom the materials had been harvested. This article clearly and extensively brings Max Clara’s life, academic work, and relations with the outside world during his Istanbul years into light. However, his histological and anatomical collection, which was divided into three parts after his passing, could not be accessed due to the reluctance the relevant institutions, faculty members, and new owners of the materials had. This study also deals with Clara’s involvement in unethical practices during the National Socialist era, such as medical experiments on prisoners and the use of the unethically procured bodies of the executed. The analysis of his academic publications reveals that they involved great inconsistencies and distortions and that these publications were not as important as was thought.
World War II not only brought the horrors of war but also unimaginable medical atrocities and crimes against humanity. Along with the racist policies that eventually led to the Holocaust, terrible medical experiments had been carried out on prisoners in the name of the advancement of medicine and scientific research, with even the corpses of the executed being abused to that end. Institutionalized criminal medical practices in the name of public health, eugenics, and scientific research was one of the priorities of the Nazi regime. Medicine was diverted from the right path by the state, and political and social pressures had completely corrupted medical values. Without the apparent voluntary contributions of medical doctors, formulating, directing, implementing, and benefiting from Nazi policies would have been completely impossible. During the period between Nazi’s ascension to power and the start of World War II (1933-1939), the path to creating a new society consisting of individuals with pure Aryan blood who were physically healthy and productive and mentally committed to the National Socialist morality first occurred through inappropriate medical policies. In retrospect, German doctors had obviously not been forced into committing crimes. They had been very active, willing, and eager to participate in irrational acts and medical crimes under the guise of scientific research and served the Nazi ideology without question. They knew the experiments they were conducting violated every standard of moral research on humans.
Although these medical crimes physicians committed are believed today to be unlikely to be repeated, reality may not be so. Today, physicians and other health personnel are known to exist who torture or direct the torture of detainees, especially those working with intelligence agencies. The horrors and medical crimes of World War II must be told and retold to honor and commemorate the victims of the Nazi regime in order to promote the basic humanism of medicine in a world where genocide and state-mandated and doctor-supervised torture and executions continue.
As one member of the Nazi Party and a symbol of Nazi medical crimes, Dr. Max Clara (1899-1966) spent the last part of his life as a lecturer at Istanbul University. The present study examines the last period of Max Clara’s life in Istanbul (1950-1966), as well as his scientific activities, and shows that ethical violations continued even years after the war and the Doctors’ Trial in Nuremburg. Max Clara’s life in Istanbul was documented based on primary sources in the Istanbul University Archives. Archival documents have been supplemented by the existing literature on the history of Istanbul University, on refugee academicians in Turkey, on Max Clara’s life, and on an analysis of his publications.
Carrying out medical procedures on dead bodies without the consent of the person or their relatives is an unethical medical crime, just as is conducting experiments on living people without their consent. Unbeknownst to prisoners who were to be executed, Clara had given them vitamin C beforehand and removed various organs immediately after the execution to conduct research on how vitamin C had been distributed in these organs in his laboratory. However, this mode of action in its mildest form involves cooperating with murderers and is morally reprehensible.
Following the war, Clara moved to Istanbul in 1950 because he had been unable to find an academic position in Germany, thus bringing samples from the executed prisoners and continuing to work on them. The current study also attempted to access the histological and anatomical material that Clara had brought from Germany, but to no avail. Separated into three parts, the materials could not be accessed due to the reluctance of the universities and faculty members who currently own them. If the material had been able to be accessed, victims from the National Socialist period could have been identified as well.
This work reveals in detail Clara’s involvement in unethical practices during the National Socialist era, such as medical experiments on prisoners and the use of unethically supplied bodies of the executed. In addition, the analysis of his academic publications reveals great inconsistencies and distortions to be present and these publications to not be as important as was thought.
Max Clara left a strong long-lasting mark on Turkish medicine as an educator and scientist. Upon looking back 55 years after his death, however, he obviously was not the innocent, hard-working scientist he pretended to be. Perhaps Clara had not joined his colleagues in experiments in concentration camps, euthanasia killings, or racial hygiene implementations because he was a histologist. However, he has been revealed to have possessed the same mindset as them through the vitamin C research he had carried out on death row victims. Max Clara stands out as a historical figure who should be scrutinized for his careerist machinations and unethical research which has become more and more evident and concrete with the critical reading of his publications. What happened in Nazi Germany can happen anytime and anywhere, because science and medicine have never been apolitical.