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Thursday, 29 March, 2001, 07:03 GMT 08:03 UK
Row over Siberian body exports
Plastinated exhibits aim to educate through entertainment
Novosibirsk residents are outraged that body parts may be used in the exhibition
Russian television has highlighted what it says is a major scandal that is brewing between Moscow and Berlin over the export of dead bodies to a German scientist.

The scientist, Dr Gunther von Hagens, in the German city of Heidelberg, uses a special technique for preserving bodies in a lifelike way.

Russian NTV television said people in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk were outraged at reports that a consignment of 56 corpses had been sent to Dr Hagens's institute.

Dr Guenter Hagen
Dr Hagen insists his work is necessary for science

An exhibition called Körperwelten (Bodyworld) - with more than 200 anatomical exhibits made from the preserved bodies of dead human beings - is currently running in Berlin.

NTV said recent headlines in the German press such as "Bodies stolen in Siberia" and "Where does Herr Frankenstein get his material?" had caused a stir.

It said customs declarations showed that the consignment had been sent from the Medical Academy in Novosibirsk to Dr Hagens's Institute in Heidelberg.

There was nothing to suggest that the bodies would not be displayed in the exhibition.

Permission

Dr Hagens told NTV that the bodies had indeed arrived in Heidelberg and had been sent on to China where the main preparation takes place.


The plastinates convey the illusion of animated beings, and thus a holistic, emotional anatomy

Körperwelten
The television said Dr Hagens insists that his work is necessary for science and that he says he always gets permission of the subjects while they are alive.

NTV quoted the rector of the Medical Academy in Novosibirsk as saying the bodies were of former prisoners, the homeless and abandoned old men, but every body had been accounted for.

'Edutainment'

Dr Hagens said the rector himself should sort out the scandal. "After all his signature is on the contract."

The exhibition's website says the exhibits try to convey an awareness of health and a better understanding of bodily functions by offering visible "entertainment anatomy" instead of school anatomy

One exhibit shows a tatoo of a Russian Orthodox cross
NTV says one exhibit has a tatoo of a Russian Orthodox cross
It says "Edutainment", a combination of education and entertainment, "conveys the vulnerability and transience of our corporeality.

"In life-like poses the gestalt plastinates convey the illusion of animated beings, and thus a holistic, emotional anatomy," it says.

Dr Hagens told NTV he was planning to organise a programme in Russia for people who wanted to donate their bodies.

But the television correspondent said it looked as though he had already begun.

One body on display at the exhibition had a clearly visible tatoo of a Russian Orthodox cross and the traditional Russian wording "I won't forget you", he said.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

17 Mar 99 | Middle East
Egyptian body parts scandal
05 Jul 98 | Asia-Pacific
China denies body part allegations
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