Final rest for victims of crimes committed in the name of science: several thousand bones were buried at a public memorial service in Berlin on Thursday. The approximately 16,000 bone fragments found during excavations were buried in five bone boxes at the forest cemetery in Dahlem.

“The inhuman practice of research racism did not provide for a burial for the remains and threw them in pits,” said Daniel Botmann of the Central Council of Jews. “Today we carry to their final resting numerous lives whose voices and biographies have been erased.”

The bone fragments have been found on the current site of Freie Universität (FU) since 2015. During National Socialism, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Genetics and Eugenics was based there. The exact origin of the bones could not be finally clarified, also because the associations such as the Central Council of Jews had refused to examine the fragments further. There are connections to National Socialism, the Auschwitz death camp and the concentration camp doctor Josef Mengele, but also to colonial history.

“Specifying the victims according to specific groups would ultimately only reproduce the racist methods and ideologies of the past,” said FU President G√ľnter Ziegler. “But that also means that we can no longer assign names or faces to the victims. But we can remember them.”