Scientist with Nazi Past Removed from NM Space History Museum Hall of Fame
Albuquerque, NM, May 17, 2006 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) commended the unanimous decision of the New Mexico Space History Museum Commission for removing Dr. Hubertus Strughold from the Museum's International Hall of Fame.
ADL had provided documents to the Commission that linked Strughold to grisly experiments on Jews and gypsies at Dachau Concentration Camp. Strughold was a German scientist who was brought to the United States by the Air Force after World War II to work on aerospace projects.
Precedents for removing Strughold's name from places of honor were set by the United States Air Force and Ohio State University after his Nazi past was revealed. Strughold's name was removed from the Brooks Air Force Base Aero-Medical Library in 1995 and his picture removed from a mural of "The World History of Medicine" at Ohio State University in 1993.
"A concerned caller alerted us to the Strughold situation at the Space Museum's Hall of Fame" said Susan Seligman, ADL New Mexico Regional Director. "After extensive research, we asked the Museum Commission to consider Strughold's removal. We also asked the Commissioners to develop an exhibit to educate the public about the gruesome experiments at Dachau, which were the beginnings of early space medical research."
ADL presented documents to the Commissioners provided by the Office of Special Investigations in the Department of Justice that placed Strughold, the Reich's Director of Medical Research for Aviation as a participant and commentator during a 1942 conference on cold water experiments conducted at Dachau Concentration Camp.
These experiments on Jews and gypsies involved freezing people to near death and re-warming them, measuring how quickly they might recover, or not. According to one source, nearly 200 people were either tortured to death by freezing, or subsequently murdered if they survived as part of these experiments.
The educational component was particularly important to ADL. Board Member Stuart Bluestone urged the commission to educate the public on "this sad and dark chapter in the annals of space science history which must be acknowledged and never forgotten."
In her letter to the Commission, ADL Director Seligman wrote, "if you only remove Strughold's name, you also remove any kind of education for future generations, and remove the chance of memorializing those who unwillingly gave their lives at Dachau for the sake of science."
Motions led by Commissioner Diane Albert resulted in the unanimous vote for removal at the Commission meeting on May 12th in Alamogordo, NM, as well as a unanimous decision to develop a task force to recommend an educational component to the commission. The Commission also voted on procedures to remove Hall of Fame inductees in the future. Seligman called the Commission's action "important and courageous."
Gov. Bill Richardson praised the decisions. "I am very pleased that the New Mexico Museum of Space History Commission thoughtfully considered the Strughold matter and voted unanimously to remove his name from the International Space Hall of Fame. This important step will help remind us all that these kinds of human rights abuses cannot be tolerated. I commend the Anti Defamation League for their work in ensuring that the history of this sad chapter is brought to light."
Mark Santiago, New Mexico Space History Museum Director, believes the action "will offer opportunities to explore the complex and sometimes controversial aspects of our shared space history."
Strughold, who died in 1987, had been referred to as the "Father of Space Medicine" for his scientific contributions. The Institute of Ethics at the University of New Mexico addressed these issues with the following statement: "Surely recognition in a "Hall of Fame" should be reserved for those who represent widely held values of tolerances and respect for human dignity, and surely Hubertus Strughold, whatever his scientific contributions, should not be given a place of honor when his conduct failed to uphold those basic human values."
Stuart Ashman, Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs was "pleased that the museum's commission recognized the importance of the Strughold issue and followed the example of the Secretary of the Air Force in removing his name from the International Space Hall of Fame".
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.