by Anne S. Reamey
.S.-Hauptsturmführer Prof. Dr. August Hirt was born April 28, 1898 in Mannheim, Germany to an old Strasbourg family. Little is known of the life of August Hirt prior to his involvement with the Ahnenerbe leading up to and during World War II, but due to his role in several radical medical experiments and collections, his works during the war have been closely examined. He joined the Institute of Anatomy at the Reichsuniversität (initially the University of Strasbourg, overtaken and turned to the_Anatomisches Institut der Reichsuniversität_) early in 1941 where he became the chairman of the anatomy department. When Hirt became employed at the University he was already an established member of the S.S. and the Ahnenerbe Society (the Society for the Heritage of the Ancestors).
August Hirt, like many Nazi doctors, is most closely associated with his role in the medical experimentation on and gassings of groups of Jewish prisoners. What makes him unique was motive: instead of seeing the gassing of prisoners as a quick and effective method of extermination, Hirt wanted to significantly expand the skull and skeleton collection for his institute at the University of Strasbourg. He wanted to create a museum of "sub-humans, in which proofs of the degeneracy and the animality of the Jews would be collected." Hirt considered it to be a task of upmost importance and extremely time-sensitive since soon the Jewish population would be completely exterminated, at which point Jewish "skeletons would be as rare and precious as a diplodocus… "."