Father of 'body parts' artist faces Nazi claims

A controversial German artist who gained notoriety for displaying body parts and corpses has said his father was pulling out of one of his son's projects following accusations that he had been a Nazi.

Professor Gunther von Hagens said his father, 88-year-old Gerhard Liebchen, would no longer play any role in setting up a laboratory and warehouse in Poland to store bodies for his macabre exhibitions.

"In view of the historical responsibility of Germany... it is essential for me that my company be free from any suspicion," Professor von Hagens said in a statement.

"My father has suggested that he should no longer represent me or my Polish company and has advised me to give the job to a Polish person."

Professor von Hagens's touring exhibition, Body Worlds, which contains 175 body parts and 25 corpses exhibited in a highly graphic manner, has prompted critics to label his art a "freak show" and him "a modern-day Frankenstein".

One exhibit features the bisected corpse of a pregnant woman with her womb cut open to reveal the foetus.

German magazine Der Spiegel said in its issue published on Monday that the artist's father "appeared to have been actively involved" in the SS and helped carry out the Nazi repression of Poles during World War II.

The magazine also published a list of 60 people deported from the south-western Polish town of Skalmierzyce.

Professor von Hagens said: "I have only learned of these accusations, including the suggestion that my father was in the SS, in the last few days."

He said he felt "enormous shame for the deaths and the killings caused by the Nazi ideology".

Mr Liebchen had been helping his son to set up the storage centre in Sieniawa Zarska in south-western Poland, which is to be used initially to store bodies but may be developed into a 'body preparation' centre later.


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