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Completed research projects of the Institute for the History of Medicine and Ethics in Medicine

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German-German Health Agreement (1974): Medical Interdependence in the Cold War

The DFG-funded research project "Medical Intertwining in the Cold War: Prehistory, Negotiation and Everyday Life of the German-German Health Agreement" examines the role of the Health Agreement signed in 1974 between the GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany in intra-German relations during the Cold War, taking into account aspects of medical, political and everyday history.

As the first follow-up agreement to the Basic Treaty signed in 1972, the Health Agreement regulated practical and humanitarian issues in the cooperation between the two German states in the medical field. In particular, it provided for the granting of inpatient and outpatient assistance in cross-border visits, the provision of specialized treatment, the exchange of medicines, and cooperation in the fight against drugs and narcotics.

Project goals

The project aims to 1) elaborate the history of central negotiation topics of the agreement and evaluate the goals and motives of the two contracting parties, it aims to 2) trace the negotiation process as well as the discourse in politics and the public, and it aims to 3) qualitatively examine the concrete implementation of the agreement in everyday life. The project will also investigate the extent to which the agreement, which was formally concluded on the basis of reciprocity, turns out in practice to be a one-sided transfer or asymmetric entanglement.

Project info

Project management and scientific. Editing: Dr. Annette Hinz-Wessels

Funding: DFG - grant in kind (own position).

Duration: 09/2018 - 08/2021

Dr. Annette Hinz-Wessels

Drug trials from the 1950s to the 1970s

Drug trials on children and adolescents

The research project deals with the drug trials of the preparations Decentan® and Encephabol®, marketed by Merck, in children's homes as well as in institutions for the disabled and psychiatric institutions for children and adolescents from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Aim of the project

In a research cooperation with the Merck company, the project undertakes a critical review of the research and testing practices of the Merck company in the 1950s and 1960s. The focus is on two preparations in particular: the provitamin complex B6 Encephabol and the neuroleptic Decentan (active ingredient: perphenazine).

The aim of the project is a systematic evaluation of all archival available company documents, whether and to what extent existing ethical standards of clinical (drug) research with regard to the selection of subjects (children and adolescents) and informed consent were neglected, disregarded or circumvented.

Project info

Research associates: Ulrich Meyer, Dr. Axel Hüntelmann, Dr. Uwe Kaminsky

Duration: September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2022

Project management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Dr. Axel C. Hüntelmann
Dr. Uwe Kaminsky

Doing Patient. Psychotherapeutic Self-Reports from the GDR

The research project "Doing Patient. Psychotherapeutic Self-Reports from the GDR" pursues a praxeological perspective on the patient:inside history of GDR psychiatry and psychotherapy.

The practice of psychotherapeutic writing

The focus is on a practice of psychotherapeutic writing in the context of the dynamic group psychotherapy central to the GDR at the Psychiatric and Nervous Clinic of the Charité in the 1970s. Using the figure of the Doing Patient, the project explores the question of how patients constitute themselves as subjects through practices and how these practices can be understood, vice versa, as part of the process of becoming a subject.

The project follows on from the previous project "Retrieving Alternatives".

Project info

Research Associate: 
Henriette Voelker

Duration: 2022

Funding: DFG

Project Management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Henriette Voelker

Retrieving alternatives. Pluralism in practice in European psychiatry, 1950-1980

This transnational project lays the foundations for the history of psychiatric practices at the time of the rise of modern psychopharmacology. Focusing on the diversity of Continental Europe’s post-war psychiatry will challenge both the biological-Kraepelinian paradigm (with its drug-related diagnostic and therapeutic corollaries) and its side-lined “alternatives” in diagnosis, therapy, and physician-patient relationships.

Case Studies

Using enhanced quantitative and qualitative methodologies, this study will reconstruct the clinical activities in five psychiatric settings in Europe, representative of the broad spectrum of the “spaces of alternatives” composing the psychiatric panorama of the time:

• the psychoanalytic approaches which blossomed in post-WW2 France with the Strasbourg case;

• the concept of therapeutic community implemented by Franco Basaglia in Gorizia (Italy);

• the socio-psychiatric care system of the Paris “secteurisation”;

• the hermeneutical-anthropological conceptions from Heidelberg;

• Karl Leonhard’s “nosological gardening” combining fine-grained neuropathology with individual therapy at the Charité in East-Berlin.

Reconstructing Heterogenous Psychiatric Practices

Combining analysis of patient files, institutional records, and specialist discourses will lead to a finer-textured picture of the variety of psychiatric practices comprising interaction techniques, diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, and institutional routines.

Reconstructing the pluralism will help reinforce the reflexivity of contemporary psychiatric practices and mental health professionals in continental Europe. In consequence, re-examining the diversity in European psychiatry will also give insight into what we may call the European exercise of pluralism.

Project Info

Research assistants: 
Dr.Gundula Gahlen
Henriette Voelker

Duration: 2019 - 2022

Funding: DFG/ANR

Project Management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Double standards? Forensic Psychiatry and Criminal Justice Reform in Berlin, 1960-1980

Forensics in Berlin

This project examines institutions, procedures, and practices of forensic psychiatric evaluation in the GDR and the FRG between the late 1950s and 1980.

Project info

Research Associate: Dr. Alexandra Geisthövel

Duration: 02/2018 - 02/2021

Project Management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess | Dr. Rainer Herrn

History of the drug thalidomide (Contergan)

About the project: the active ingredient thalidomide

The active ingredient thalidomide became known in 1961 due to the malformations of the human embryo caused by it. The perception of the 1960s, which was marked by public scandal, found a world-wide echo. Since that time, thalidomide has been considered a prominent example of inadequate control of drug side effects and the starting point for the development of recent drug legislation. Despite its global dimension, the history of thalidomide-containing drugs is often viewed from the perspective of the particular countries affected, so that the overall topic tends to appear as the sum of those national stories about which journalistic or scientific publications are available.

Questions on the history of the effects of thalidomide

The project "History of the drug thalidomide (Contergan)" examines three dimensions of a global history of the effects of the drug thalidomide in the period from 1955 to 1965

1. the international marketing and distribution of thalidomide-containing drugs

2. the discovery of the teratogenic effect and the worldwide distribution of the resulting malformations

3. the immediate reactions of the relevant actors and institutions regarding the withdrawal and control of thalidomide-containing drugs.

Project objectives

The aim of the project is to analyze the transnational structures of the pharmaceutical market in the years around 1960 from the perspective of an active substance ("drug trajectory"). The reconstruction of its history forms the basis for the study of the temporal evolution and spatial patterns of teratogenic damage that occurred. Thus, the early phase of the global history of thalidomide-containing drugs will be able to be presented in its essential features for the first time. Connections to the subsequent development of these drugs will be elucidated, even though their use in the treatment of leprosy since the mid-1960s and the increasing expansion of their indications since the 1990s are not themselves the subject of this project.


Ludger Wimmelbücker: Grippex 1956-1961. Ein anderer Blick auf die Geschichte thalidomidhaltiger Medikamente in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. In: Thomas Großbölting/Niklas Lenhard-Schramm (Hg.), Contergan – Hintergründe und Folgen eines Arzneimittel-Skandals. Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017, S. 167-203

Julie Parle, Ludger Wimmelbücker: ‘These Are the Medicines That “Make” Monsters’:  Thalidomide in Southern Africa, 1958–196. In: Social History of Medicine (in print)

Project info

Title: „Ways of globalization – Die internationale Vermarktung und Kontrolle thalidomidhaltiger Medikamente“ ("Ways of globalization - The international marketing and control of thalidomide-containing drugs").

Dr. Ludger Wimmelbücker 
Charité - University Medicine Berlin
Institute for History of Medicine and Ethics in MedicineThielallee 71
14195 Berlin

Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG) | Duration:06/2014 - 02/2021

"Suffering and injustice" in children's and adolescents' homes

Scientific reappraisal of the suffering and injustice experienced by children and adolescents in inpatient institutions for the disabled and inpatient psychiatric institutions in the period from May 23, 1949 to December 31, 1975 (FRG) and from October 7, 1949 to October 2, 1990 (GDR).

The research report is available for download on the website of the "Stiftung Anerkennung und Hilfe".

Project info

Research Associate: Laura Hottenrott

Duration: 01/2018 - 07/2020

Project Management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Persecuted physicians of the Berlin municipal health care system (1933 to 1945)

Immediately after the Nazi takeover, there were also profound upheavals in the field of health policy and public health. On the basis of the "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service" of April 7, 1933, Jewish and politically disfavored physicians were removed from the state and municipal health care system. The dismissals were the prelude to a policy of systematic disenfranchisement and economic exclusion, which reached a temporary conclusion in 1938 with the revocation of the license to practice medicine for all Jewish physicians. Numerous doctors were forced to emigrate, killed themselves or eventually became victims of the Shoah.

As part of a research project of the Historical Commission on Berlin, the fates of persecuted physicians in Berlin's municipal health care system were extensively researched and are available to the public in an Internet database. At the conclusion of the project, the comprehensive memorial book „"und dürfen das Krankenhaus nicht mehr betreten". Der Ausschluss jüdischer und politisch unerwünschter Ärzte und Ärztinnen aus dem Berliner städtischen Gesundheitswesen 1933-1945“ by Susanne Doetz and Christoph Kopke was published in 2018.

further information

about the database


Dr. Susanne Doetz
Dr. Christoph Kopke

Duration:2.2012 - 9.2013

Funding: Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin

50 Years Steglitz Clinic

In 1968, the "Steglitz Clinic" was opened, which was initially intended to counteract the medical undersupply in the western part of Berlin. Soon, today's Klinikum Benjamin Fanklin developed into the most modern and largest facility of its time in Europe.

Initiated by Prof. Dr. Thomas Beddies and Dr. Andreas Jüttemann, the anniversary is being celebrated this year with an exhibition and a series of events - including many encounters and stories from companions of the CBF.

More about the project ...


Architect tour

Interviews with contemporary witnesses of the civic exhibition:


Kick-off workshop from 02.11.2017

Report on the kick-off workshop (HSozKult 31.01.2018).

"1968" and Medicine - Symposium October 2018 in cooperation with the German Society for Hospital History e.V. (see also here: Download Flyer).

Conference report on "1968 and Medicine":


Forschen! Heilen! Lehren! - Tagesspiegel vom 17.04.2018

50 Jahre Klinikum Steglitz - Radio Berlin 08.10.2018

Eine Ausstellung zum Fünfzigsten - Tagesspiegel vom 11.10.2018

50 Jahre Charité Campus Benjamin Franklin - Berliner Woche vom 08.10.2018

Benjamin Franklin Klinikum ist Vorbild - Berliner Morgenpost vom 07.09.2018

Berlin feiert 50 Jahre Klinikum Steglitz - Tagesspiegel vom10.11.2017 - RBB Fernsehen, Charité auf Leben und Tod, Folge 3/Staffel 2 (ab Min 14:20)


Finja Wicke, Andreas Jüttemann: Die Eröffnung des Klinikums Steglitz im Zeichen der Studentenbewegung

Dana Lehmann: 50 Jahre Klinikum Benjamin Franklin. Die Geschichte der Luftrettung am Klinikum Steglitz

Patrizia Beier, Andreas Jüttemann: Brutal schön: das Benjamin-Franklin-Klinikum in Berlin-Steglitz

Jonathan Jeutner (Hg.): Ein Bollwerk im Kalten Krieg. Der Bau des Klinikums Benjamin Franklin

Andreas Jüttemann: Grundversorgung Fassade

Festschrift zum 50. Geburtstag des Klinikums Steglitz: „Alles unter einem Dach“ (to be published 4/2019)


Prof. Dr. Thomas Beddie

Dr. Andreas Jüttemann
Institute for the History of Medicine and Ethics in Medicine
Charité - University Medicine Berlin
Thielallee 71
14195 Berlin

Papertechnology: Ways of medical knowledge - How physicans know, 1550-1950

Ways of medical knowledge - How physicans know, 1550-1950

The goal of this 5-year research project on the history of medical writing is to demonstrate the importance and function of paper techniques using medicine as an example.

How do ancient techniques of pen and paper shape today's knowledge - and our modern world? Today, electronic recording techniques and digital media are increasingly used in the laboratory and at the bedside, in teaching and in research. Paper is disappearing.

From this perspective of a longue duree, we focus on the historical paths of medical knowledge in the period from 1550 to 1950, thus opening a new, comprehensive historical approach to what we understand as "social knowledge" rather than the "social history of knowledge" (Burke 2000): the history of the knowledge society.

Research subjects include early modern observations and modern medical records, leprosy examination slips and vaccination certificates, forensic reports and expert medical opinions-in short, the entire spectrum of medical observation.


Prof. Dr. Volker Hess | Dr. Andrew Mendelsohn

Staff members:

Oliver Falk | Dr. Alexa Geisthövel | Dr. Axel Hüntelmann | Johannes Kassar | Dr. Saskia Klerk

Prof. Alix Cooper | Dr. Laura Di Giammatteo | Dr. Ruth Schilling

Duration: 2012 - 2017

Funding: ERC

Clinical Drug Research in the GDR

Clinical drug research in the GDR, 1961-1989: Initial question.

In the GDR, between the building of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Wall, about 500 drug studies were conducted on behalf of Western pharmaceutical companies. This state-controlled clinical contract research, which was supervised by the Ministry of State Security, has repeatedly been the subject of broad public attention since the fall of the Wall, although little is known about the background, allocation and planning, conduct, evaluation and use of these studies. The research project aims to contribute to an objectification of the public discussion. This goal is to be achieved by including all available sources (Federal Archives, BStU, medical record archives, company archives). The archival records will be supplemented and compared with interviews with contemporary witnesses.

Project goals

With the historical-critical reappraisal of these commissioned studies, the proposed project aims to

1. to establish a secure state of knowledge/overview of these drug trials

  • to record all clinical drug studies commissioned by Western companies in the GDR
  • historical embedding of the contract research in the GDR

2. identify and assess the ethically questionable or problematic aspects of these trials

  • exemplary case studies
  • individual cases that have become known

3. Guarantee scientific independence and make scientific reappraisal accessible to the public.

  • scientific advisory board
  • technical monitoring committee

4. establish a cooperative research network for the study of drug trials

  • establishment of a discussion group
  • coordination of further individual studies (project structure)

Clinical drug research in the GDR, 1961-1989

A research project of the Institute for the History of Medicine of the Charité, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for the New Federal States, the Federal Medical Association, the State Medical Associations of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Saarland, Saxony , the Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, the Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry and the Federal Foundation for Reappraisal.

Direction: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Laura Hottenrott | Peter Steinkamp | Dr. Florian Bruns

Project duration: 6/2013 - 12/2015

Public Health Service under National Socialism (ÖGD)

The role of the ÖGD in the NS

The Public Health Service (ÖGD) played a central role in implementing the biologistic population policy ideas and objectives of the National Socialist state in the form of "hereditary and racial hygiene" at least since its restructuring with the Law on the Unification of Health Care (GVG) in July 1934.


With the Law on the Unification of the Health Care System (GVG), a reform of the communally structured public health care system supported by a wide variety of institutions, which had been pursued in principle since the Weimar Republic, was implemented from 1935 onward in the sense of the National Socialist state, and the health care system was organized centrally from the perspective of the new state with the creation of health offices and the function of the public health officer.

Existing areas of work remained largely untouched. Above all, however, all claims and decisions raised by National Socialist population policy in connection with the "Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring" (Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses, GzVeN) and the sterilizations associated with it and much more were transferred to the "health office" and "public health officer" institutions, which were given new tasks or were newly established. Finally, public health officers were involved in the implementation of the so-called "children's euthanasia" and in the selection for the evacuation of hospitals, with which selected inmates were sent to the so-called "euthanasia".

Touring exhibition "Volk Gesundheit Staat" ("People Health State“)

Hans Bergemann, Dr. Sabine Schleiermacher

Volk Gesundheit Staat - Gesundheitsämter im Nationalsozialismus

Berichte und Dokumente zur Zeitgeschichte 10

Institut für Geschichte der Medizin und Ethik in der Medizin/Forschungsschwerpunkt Zeitgeschichte. Berlin 2019

The traveling exhibition - presented at the 69th Scientific Congress of the BVÖGD (April 04-06, 2019) - presents results from the research project "Der Öffentliche Gesundheitsdienst in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Die Beispiele Thüringen und Württemberg" ("Der Öffentliche Gesundheitsdienst in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. The examples of Thuringia and Württemberg").

Scientific supervision: Dr. Sven Kinas
Direction: PD Dr. Sabine Schleiermacher
Research focus: Contemporary history of medicine
Funding: Federal Association of Physicians of the Public Health Service (BVÖGD), German Federal Ministry of Health

Shaping Demographies

The statistician, economist and demographer Robert René Kuczynski in Germany, the USA and Great Britain (1890s to 1950s)

  • at the interface between the history of science and biography
  • (trans-)national shaping processes of demographics
  • multidisciplinary anchors and institutionalization attempts, competitions and cooperations, prognoses, expertises and politics

Robert René Kuczynski, who came from a Jewish banking family in Berlin, became involved with population issues early on as an economist and statistician, including in his work as a city statistician. He made the Net Reproduction Rate (NRR) model, which was closely linked to official vital statistics, internationally famous. He was not alone in predicting an 'extinction of the white peoples', and with the NRR he provided important impulses in methodological, theoretical and political discussions on demographic developments in national and international forums. By tracing Kuczynski's professional career, different traditions of thought, competitive relationships, and processes of displacement at both national and international levels become visible. Despite many years of professional activity in the United States, he did not go there after fleeing Germany in 1933, but to England, where he found employment at the London School of Economics. For a short time he became Reader in Demography before turning to the demography of the British colonial empire.

Methodologically, the tools of an actor-centered approach are used in combination with aspects of jeux d'échelles and histoire croisée. In addition to the development of ideas in the history of ideas, the focus is on questions of personal and institutional resources in the formation of demographies. The period of analysis covers Kuczynski's entire professional career, but will be dealt with in two sub-projects. These are related to each other in terms of content and are being worked on in close cooperation. The central source material is the Kuczynski estate, which is kept in the Central and Regional Library in Berlin; further material comes from archives in Germany, Great Britain, the USA, Paris, Geneva and Rome.

Shaping demographies

Scientific Editing:

Project A: Dr. Ursula Ferdinand | Project B: Lukas Cladders

Direction: Prof. Dr. Sabine Schleiermacher

Research focus: Contemporary history of medicine

Duration: 2015 - 2019

Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Early Psychosis

"Psychiatric fringes - An historical and sociological investigation of early psychosis and related phenomena in post-war French and German societies."

  • Concepts of "incipient schizophrenia" and psychosis
  • Histoire croisée as methodological approach
  • A Franco-German project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR)

The Early Psychosis Project

Psychosis, especially schizophrenia, has been the subject of intense debate since the mid-20th century in both France and Germany.

Onset of illness, symptomatology, early diagnosis as well as prevention were the focus of the debates, which found expression in the concepts of "incipient schizophrenia" (Conrad 1958), "basic symptoms" (Gerd Huber, 1966/71), "schizophrenia incipiens" (Henri Ey, 1955) or "psychosis froide" (Evelyne Kestenberg, 1972).

Historical Context

How these ideas around early psychosis were negotiated with each other in Germany and France to obtain a central international role in medicine and health policy today will be pursued by the project using the methodological approach of histoire croisée, or intertwining history. The contemporary historical context of the period 1950-1980, which is the focus of the project, is that of political stabilization between France and the two German states - the GDR and the FRG in 1949 - during the Cold War and the formation of a European identity until 1980.

Material basis of the research

The material basis will be, in addition to psychiatric journals in France and Germany, the medical records of the various schools or university hospitals involved in shaping the competing styles and/or schools of thought (biological-genetic, epidemiological, phenomenological).

An oral history of the authoritative psychiatrists and psychologists and a sociological field study in Paris and Berlin will complete the methodological approach to the history and meaning of early psychosis.

"Psychiatric fringes - An historical and sociological investigation of early psychosis and related phenomena in post-war French and German societies."

Institute for the History of Medicine of the Charité:
Dr. phil. Emmanuel Delille | Dr. Lara Rzesnitzek
Direction: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Université Paris Descartes-CERMES3:
Nicolas Henckes | Steeves Demazeux
Jean-Paul Gaudillière

Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG) and Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR)

Establishment of human genetic counseling centers in the GDR

This research project examines the establishment of the human genetic counseling service in the GDR in the context of the interactions between politics, science and the public.

Emergence of the human genetic counseling centers

Against the backdrop of the National Socialist past and the Lyssenko Doctrine adopted by the Soviet Union, which postulated the inheritance of acquired traits and branded genetics as pseudoscientific, human genetic research in the GDR was conducted only on a small scale until the late 1960s. In 1966, within the framework of the so-called Biological Prognosis, scientists advocated further research in this field. Five years later (1971), the Human Genetics Research Project was launched, the primary goal of which was to establish a human genetic counseling service. By the mid-1980s, every district of the GDR had a human genetic counseling center. Human genetic counseling thus served as a transmission belt for the practical application of modern molecular genetic knowledge.

Research questions

  • Which existing medical structures were used, which traditions were followed, and which were consciously distanced from?
  • How was human genetic counseling shaped in the field of tension between health policy guidelines of the SED, international competition, lack of resources and the interests of human geneticists?
  • And what role was played by the public, or rather by individual sections of the public, who were, after all, potential addressees of these advisory activities?

These questions will be investigated on the basis of documents from various institutions involved, contemporary publications and interviews with contemporary witnesses.

Dr. Susanne Doetz

Duration: 2013 - 2016

Funding: GEPRIS is a project of the German Research Foundation.


DFG Research Unit "Cultures of Madness"

Am Rande des Wahnsinns: Schwellenräume einer urbanen Moderne (eds. V. Hess, H.-P. Schmiedebach) 2012, Böhlau Verlag.

The research group Cultures of Madness investigates the threshold phenomena of urban modernity (1870-1930).

The aim of the research group is to develop a modern cultural history of madness. It examines those discourses, practices, and techniques by which madness was differentiated into the shapes and varieties of our modern understanding between 1870 and 1930. We consider "madness" as the field of a redefinition of subjectivity and individuation that took place in the years between the founding of the German Empire and the eve of fascism, marking the beginning of an "urban modernity."

We examine "madness" under the epistemological approach of a threshold space, which lends itself to an interdisciplinary approach, as it allows us to analyze forms of expression, regulation, and discursivation in the urban setting.

Projects at the Institute:

Revolution as a "psychopathological treasure trove. Urban lifeworlds, consequences of war and crisis management from a psychiatric perspective (Berlin 1918-1923)

Head: PD Dr. Thomas Beddies
Collaborators: Dr. Petra Fuchs, Wolfgang Rose, M.A.

Urban disorders in psychiatric treatment. Practices, Spaces and Knowledge Techniques of the Berlin Mental Hospital, 1870-1930

Director: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess
Collaborators:  Alexander Friedland, Dr. Rainer Herrn, Dr. Sophie Ledebur, Marie Schlotter

Madness in the City: Pathways, Places, Institutions in Berlin, 1870-1930

Management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess, Prof. Dr. Beate Binder
Collaborators: Sven Bergmann, Kelly Miller

Participating institutions 
Charité-University Medicine Berlin
Humboldt University Berlin
Technical University of Berlin
University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
Center for Literary and Cultural Research Berlin

Wahnsinnsgeschichte(n), Interventionen und kein Ende… (History(s) of Madness, Interventions and No End...)

Final event of the DFG research group "Cultures of Madness" on July 3, 2015.
Start: 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Location: Ambulatorium on the RAW grounds, Revaler Straße 99, Berlin-Friedrichshain, Warschauer Straße subway station.

Moderation: Tina Mendelsohn
Musical accompaniment: Ugo d'Orazio

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess (Berlin) 
deputy speaker: Prof. Dr. Heinz-Peter Schmiedebach (Hamburg)

Funding: DFG FOR 1120
Duration: 01.2009-01.2015
DFG Research Unit 1120

Festschrift on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the German Society of Immunology

Preparation of the historical first part of a Festschrift consisting of three parts on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the German Society of Immunology.

Duration: 12.2016 - 07.2017

Research associate: Dr. Annette Hinz-Wessels

Project management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Funding: German Society for Immunology e.V.

about the book

Memorial book on the Nazi hospital murders in Berlin-Buch

Compilation of a memorial book of the former III. Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Berlin-Buch to commemorate the victims of the NS-Kraken murders.

Duration: 03.2015 - 12.2016

Research assistant: Dr. Dietmar Schulze

Project management: Prof. Dr. Thomas Beddies

Funding: Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin

further information

Everyday life of a doctor in Thuringia in the 18th century

The practice journals of a physician from Suhl/Thuringia, 1750-1763

  • The aim of the research project is
  • The reconstruction of a medical practice from the middle of the 18th century as a case study of a practice in a social context
  • The investigation of medical "writing down" techniques
  • And the elaboration of their function as knowledge techniques

The material basis of the research project is a practice diary, which documents the practical activities of a Suhl physician from 1750 to 1763 on 1,200 pages. Three results of the preliminary investigation, which at first seem banal, are particularly striking because they contradict recent research:

  • The doctor did not travel, but practiced in his own home.
  • One third of the clientele was treated only via messengers.
  • The physician limited himself exclusively to "internal cures" and abstained from any encroachment into the surgical field.

These peculiarities of everyday medical life in the 18th century will be examined and analyzed in more detail in the project.


In order to make these findings fruitful for a historical interpretation, an in-depth comparison with empirical studies on medical practice is necessary. This will be done in several ways: by evaluating further years of practice documented in the journal, by drawing on new source materials, by reconstructing the recording system of practice documentation, and by examining the practical relevance of the semiotic model of action and its significance for medical thought and action.


Dr. des. Ruth Schilling, Direction: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Funding:DFG Project He 2220/14

Duration: 5.2009-12.2012

Research network: The project is part of the DFG-funded research network "Ärztliche Praxis, 17.-19. Jahrhundert" (speaker: M.Stolberg) with subprojects led by Martin Dinges (Stuttgart), Karin Nolte (Würzburg), Marion Maria Ruisinger (Ingolstadt), and Michael Stolberg (Würzburg) as well as cooperative projects in Innsbruck (Elisabeth Dietrich-Daum), Bern (Hubert Steinke), and Zurich (Iris Ritzmann).

The History of the Robert Koch Institute under National Socialism

The History of the Robert Koch Institute under National Socialism ... more

Research assistants: Dr. Annette Hinz-Wessels, Dr. Anja Laukötter

Project Management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess | Histor. Commission on the History of the RKI in the NS

Psychochemicals crossing the wall

Psychochemicals crossing the wall. The introduction of psychotropic drugs in the GDR, 1952-1989 ... more

Research assistants: Dr. Viola Balz, Dr. Ulrike Klöppel

Duration: 2.2008 - 3.2012

Project management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Funding: DFG project (He 2220/7)

From Advertisement to Marketing

Pharmaceutical enterprises, patients, physicians and the construction of medical markets (GEPHAMA) This German-French collaborative project examines the development of the marketing of modern pharmaceuticals in Germany and France and thus opens up an approach to the emergence and expansion of the modern medical market in the 20th century. Its development after 1945 was characterized by:

  • industrial mass production
  • the use of modern media
  • the growing specialization and differentiation with simultaneous internationalization
  • and last but not least, the fulfillment of the promises of the therapeutic revolution after the end of the Second World War.

All these factors have led to the development of a network of actors, institutions, interests and power structures characterized by increasing complexity.

As a comparative study, the project takes a look at comparable and internationally overlapping events such as the discovery of new drugs and other developments, each with its own national characteristics, in the sense of histoire croisée (entangled history), particularly with regard to the challenge posed by American successes in combining research and marketing.

Case studies on individual groups of drugs are used to work out which specific national responses both West German and French research and industry, as well as legal and social systems, formulated to these challenges posed by the United States, and which culture of marketing developed out of this confrontation.

German-French cooperation project:
/Collaborators for the German side:
Dr. phil. Ulrike Thoms
Stephan Felder, M.A. (Stud. HK)

Project management:
Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Project management for the French side:
Dr. Jean Paul Gaudillière, CERMES / INSERM N.N.

DFG (He 2220/13) and ANR (Agence Nationale de Recherche)

Duration 2.2009 - 9.2012

Standard Drugs and Drugs Standards

Standard Drugs and Drugs Standards: a comparative historical study of pharmaceuticals in the 20th century ... more

Research Associate: Birgit Ramsingh

Duration: 3.2008 - 2.2013

Project Management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Funding: ESF

Industrialization of experimental knowledge

Research assistants: Axel Hüntelmann, Jonathan Simon, Ulrike Klöppel

Project Management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Funding: DFG project (HE 2220/4-1 and 2)

The Perception of Mental Illness in the Medical Records of the Berlin Charité, 1880-1900

The perception of mental illness in the medical records of the Berlin Charité, 1880-1900 ... more

Research assistant: Annett Bretthauer

Project management: Prof. Dr. Volker Hess

Funding: DFG-Project (HE 2220/6-2)