The university has responded to the human remains recovered through archaeological excavations on campus with dignity and transparency
No 110/2021 from Jun 10, 2021
Following an article by Götz Aly in the Berliner Zeitung on the university’s response to the finding of human remains on its campus, Freie Universität Berlin strongly disputes the article’s version of events. In particular, the university refutes the baseless allegation that it is intentionally refusing to investigate possible links to Auschwitz and those murdered in the concentration camp. Since the discovery of fragmented human bones on the Dahlem campus of Freie Universität Berlin, on the premises of the former Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics (KWIA), the university has consistently treated the findings with dignity and transparency.
Following the initial findings of human remains in 2014, Freie Universität worked in partnership with the Max Planck Society - founded in 1946 to replace the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and its institutes - and the Berlin State Monuments Office (Landesdenkmalamt Berlin) to initiate an investigation, appointing experts to carry out archaeological excavations in 2015 and 2016. A research team under the leadership of archaeologist Professor Susan Pollock analyzed the human remains using non-invasive osteological techniques. Freie Universität Berlin carried out an initial consultation on the findings with the Central Council of Jews in Germany and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, ensuring that the two Councils were involved in discussions and decision-making during the investigation. The analyses conducted have shown that the bones have multiple origins, likely including colonial contexts. As a result, further discussions have been held this year between the president of Freie Universität and representatives of various survivors’ associations and grass-roots organizations.
A major public event, hosted by Freie Universität Berlin, the Max Planck Society, and the Monuments Office, was held online on February 23, 2021, to present the findings of the investigation. The event also offered a forum for further discussions on how to deal with the human remains. A detailed summary of the event subsequently appeared as an article in the university’s online magazine, ; the article includes a chronology of the university’s reporting on the issue, which will continue to be updated. It will be available online in English shortly.