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Space Prize Namesake Has A Dark Past

Hubertus Strughold Had Reportedly Been A Nazi During WWII, Emigrated To The U.S.

The Strughold Award is a prestigious recognition bestowed each year on a scientist or clinician for outstanding work in aviation medicine. But the man for whom the award is named has a dark past that still divides the aviation medical community.

The award has been presented annually since 1963. It is named for Dr. Hubertus Strughold, who came to the United States after the second world war and is recognized as one of the people who made the moon landings possible.

But during the war, some say Dr. Strughold was a Nazi scientist who is connected with some experiments involving cold-weather survival at the Dachau concentration camp. The subjects of the experiments, inmates at the camp, typically did not survive the experiments. There were reportedly other experiments as well, some involving children with epilepsy, of which Strughold may have been aware but did not actively participate.

In an enterprise report, the Wall Street Journal says that that Dr. Strughold's connection with the experiments has caused a "bitter controversy" over the Strughold Prize. While he was alive, Strughold said he did not participate in, and disapproved of, the experiments being conducted on non-volunteers. He was not tried at Nuremberg, and the U.S. Justice Department determined there were insufficient grounds for prosecution after several investigations.

While some in the scientific community support Dr. Strughold as being a "pure scientist" who helped America beat the Soviets to the Moon, others, including former Executive Director of the Aerospace Medical Association Dr. Russell Rayman, say Strughold was "part of a big killing machine" and has lobbied actively to have his name removed from the prize.

That possibility is now under consideration by both the Aerospace Medical Association and its constituent organization, the Space Medicine Association. The organizations have not come to a consensus about what should be done. Dr. Mark Campbell, a former president of the Space Medicine Association who said that the U.S. would "not have been where we are in space" had it not been for Dr. Strughold, said the German scientist was "not a war criminal." He said a possible solution is to change the name of the award, but only if the SMA would categorically state that Dr. Strughold was not a Nazi or a war criminal. That solution is unlikely to satisfy the German doctor's critics.

FMI: http://www.asma.org/organizations/constituent/constituent.view.php?cid=1

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