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2 March 2004

University of Heidelberg Comments on the Fine Imposed on Dr. von Hagens for Unlawful Assumption of a Title

Rector Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff: "From the outset we have had no desire to be associated with the Body Worlds exhibition"

According to the news agency AP, the magistrates' court of Heidelberg has imposed a fine on Dr. Gunther von Hagens for unlawful assumption of a title.

In September 2003, the University of Heidelberg had reported the anatomist on the grounds of suspicions that he had unlawfully assumed the title of professor. Rector Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff commented today on the reasons for this step: "From the outset we have had no desire to be associated with the Body Worlds exhibition."

In the past, he continued, the impression had been created in the public eye that "Professor von Hagens, Heidelberg" is a member of Heidelberg University. "At a very early stage we made it unequivocally clear that this is not the case," said Hommelhoff. In the meantime, the Senate of the University has also distanced itself from Dr. von Hagens' "showmanship".

Here the press agency text

Heidelberg (AP) Anatomist Gunther von Hagens, who has aroused controversy for his use of parts of human corpses, has had a fine imposed on him for unlawfully assuming the title of professor. […] Von Hagens now has two weeks to decide whether he will accept the fine or not. In the latter case, court proceedings will be instituted against von Hagens, who has been criticised for his Body Worlds exhibition.

In January, the Director of Public Prosecutions stated that von Hagens had been reported to the authorities for signing five documents between early February 2002 and mid August 2003 as "Prof." or "Professor" Dr. Gunther von Hagens, although he was not entitled to call himself a professor without making any reference to the origin of the title. The Director of Public Prosecutions had taken action as a result of information brought against Dr. von Hagens by the University of Heidelberg. In September 2003, von Hagens had emphasised that he was legally justified in bearing the title conferred on him by a Chinese university. As early as 2001, he said, the Ministry of Higher Education and Research of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia had given him an assurance of its consent to his use of a professorial title conferred on him by the Dalian Medical University (China). The anatomist has also caused a considerable stir with his Body Worlds exhibition.

Please address any inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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