Name of scientist nixed from library due to Nazi past

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

NEW YORK — The sadistic Nazi background of a late German scientist known as the "father of U.S. space medicine" has resulted in plans to remove his name from a U.S. Air Force library, according to the World Jewish Congress.

In 1993, soon after the scientist's background was uncovered, his portrait was removed from a mural of medical heroes at Ohio State University.

Scientist Hubertus Strughold, who died in 1986, was secretly brought to the United States in 1945 to work on the space program, even though he was sought for prosecution at Nuremberg.

These types of stories are always "shocking," but no longer "surprising," Elan Steinberg, WJC executive director, said in a recent interview.

The library at the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas had been named to honor Strughold, who helped develop the pressure suits used by astronauts, and the U.S. space capsule.

Steinberg said the recent announcement about the library was delayed primarily for bureaucratic reasons, but added: "To the credit of the Clinton administration, there is a genuine desire to face history honestly."

Strughold's name had appeared in a formerly secret intelligence document showing that the U.S. Army listed him as "wanted" on its 1945 Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects.

As the head of Nazi Germany's Air Force Institute for Aviation Medicine, Strughold participated in a 1942 conference that discussed "experiments" on human beings carried out by the institute.

The experiments included subjecting Dachau concentration camp inmates to torture and death by being immersed in water, placed in air pressure chambers, forced to drink sea water and exposed to freezing temperatures.

Strughold had denied approving the experiments and said he learned of them only after World War II.