IAU Removes Designation Of Lunar Crater Named For Suspected Nazi War Criminal

Eppinger-Euclides Crater Region (Map)

New York, 9 August 2002 LT

UPDATE: On 28 October 2002, the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN), after verifying Dr. Hans Eppinger’s connection with the Nazi prison camps, unanimously voted to drop the designation of crater Eppinger from the Moon. The group acknowledged the role that the Luna Society (previously known as the Lunar Republic Society) performed in bringing this matter to their attention. The text of the original media release is reprinted below:

An inquiry opened with the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Planetary Nomenclature section regarding the suitability of having a crater on the Moon named to honor Dr. Hans Eppinger, Jr., an accused Nazi war criminal, has resulted in the removal of the designation.

The inquiry, entered on behalf of the Luna Society, an international advocacy group based in New York, claimed that evidence exists showing that Eppinger conducted experiments on Gypsy prisoners at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany during World War II.

Dr Hans Eppinger
Hans Eppinger

The experiments, which involved giving unaltered seawater and seawater whose taste was camouflaged to the prisoners as their sole source of fluid, caused severe physical difficulty or death within six to twelve days.

According to witness reports, the prisoners became so profoundly dehydrated that they were seen licking the floors after they were mopped simply to get a drop of water.

Eppinger, who was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1879, also served as personal physician to the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and was a professor at the universities in Freiburg, Cologne and Vienna. Eppinger killed himself in September 1946, one month before he was scheduled to testify in the Nuremberg war crimes trial. He committed suicide by taking poison, according to his obituary in The New York Times.

Crater Eppinger, which received its official designation by the International Astronomical Union in 1976 on the thirtieth anniversary of its namesake’s death, is a six-kilometer wide formation located at 9.4º South latitude, 25.7º West longitude in the western section of Mare Cognitum, east of the Montes Riphaeus mountain chain. (Click here for detail from The Full Moon Atlas, Sector E-3.)

Eppinger’s experiments have been chronicled in the PBS television series “Nova” in an episode entitled “Holocaust On Trial,” which originally aired in October 2000. An article by the noted attorney Baruch C. Cohen, entitled “The Ethics Of Using Medical Data From Nazi Experiments,” also detailed Eppinger’s sea water experiments; it has been reprinted on the Jewish Law web site at http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/NaziMedEx.html.

The inquiry by the Luna Society was entered with Dr. Vladislav Shevchenko, Chairman of the Lunar Task Group of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature, as well as with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Planetary Geology and Geophysics section in Flagstaff, Arizona, which maintains planetary nomenclature databases.

Upon the removal of the Eppinger designation, the IAU’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature reinstated the crater’s original listing as Euclides D, noting in its annual report (IAU Transactions XXVA) that the organization “regrets to have to retract the lunar crater name.”

The information regarding Eppinger came to light during research for The Full Moon Atlas, an interactive lunar atlas, gazetteer and crater catalog which has been developed by the Luna Society (www.fullmoonatlas.com).


    • A very good point. Lenard, a physicist, Nobel laureate, unrepentant Nazi and adviser to Hitler — and staunch opponent of Einstein’s theories — did have a crater named for him. I’m guessing that opposition to Lenard is not as vocal because his work did not result in the deaths of numerous people, as Eppinger’s “experiments” did. Should there be another look at Lenard and his worthiness?

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