The Fachverband Medizingeschichte e.V. / Professional Association of Medical Historians has issued a statement on the preservation of films of medical historical relevance. In this statement, the Fachverband laments the Bundesarchiv’s copy-and-destroy-policy and emphasizes the fact that the “Bundesarchiv’s security risk assessment appears to serve as a model for other institutions.”
As an example, the Fachverband reports on the disposal of 200 X-ray films that had been part of the collection of the German Röntgen Museum at Remscheid. The museum had been given “a deadline of only a few months” to get rid of the combustible films. The Bundesarchiv “had to reject” the museum’s request “to temporarily store” these films; 200 nitrate reels then were “destroyed by the company EST Energetics at the request of the city’s head administration”. These unexplored film documents had been made by Prof. Dr. Robert Janker who was promoted as professor in 1930 after specializing in radiographic cinematography. As a consequence of the “request of the city’s head administration”, the practical results of Janker’s work will never be the subject of medical historical research.
The described procedure is nothing less than a shame for the “Röntgen City of Remscheid”; it deserves widespread attention of the expert public and the media.
The Fachverband’s statement can be viewed here. I vigorously support their appeal to the Bundesarchiv “to stop the disposal of, in the view of the Bundesarchiv, ‘unimportant’ films”.