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Under a dystrophy - from old gr. dys "bad" (here "malfunction") and trophein ("nourish", "grow"; "malnutrition", "incorrect growth") - are understood in medicine as degenerative peculiarities, which are caused by developmental disorders of individual tissues , cells, body parts , Organs or even the entire organism leads to corresponding degenerations (incorrect growths).

The cause of dystrophies can be varied, e.g. For example, by genetic or chromosomal variations, disease , trauma or by a lack of nutrients , often due to malnutrition or malnutrition .

The disorders can occur both before birth ( prenatal ) and after birth (postnatal). Dystrophy is then usually associated with functional restrictions or functional disorders in the affected body regions.

The diagnosis of “dystrophy” became significant in terms of medical history when it came to interpreting the burdens of those returning from the war , especially those from long imprisonment. Internists and psychiatrists blamed the consequences of hunger and malnutrition for the slow regeneration of those returning home. Dystrophy is listed in the camp journals of the special camps of the NKVD in the Soviet occupation zone between 1945 and 1950 as the main cause of death for the more than 42,000 fatalities. Kurt Gauger wrote a book in 1952 with the title Dystrophy as a Psychosomatic Disease and thus seemed to have found a formula for understanding the social adjustment difficulties of sick people, in his case especially those returning from the war .

Examples of dystrophies are:


In her bestseller The Forgotten Generation - The Children of War break their silence, the journalist Sabine Bode put forward the thesis that “the number of patients who suffered from the consequences of war and imprisonment was so great” that “it went beyond the proportions of it what one could record in the patient's files as 'constitutional' with a clear conscience. ”In addition,“ one can assume that the doctors showed a certain reluctance to label too many fellow sufferers as 'unstable characters'. ”To“ solve the problem ” the "visibly overwhelmed German post-war psychiatrists" would have thought of the disease "dystrophy". And Bode continues:

“The term described a whole range of physical and psychological impairments that were attributed to a previous severe malnutrition . Today it is easy to see that this was an invention born of necessity. Dystrophy patients suffered, among other things, from depression, poor concentration, from uncontrollable outbursts of anger, or they felt permanently persecuted, surrounded by enemies. You could also say: For many men, the war continued after they returned home ... "


  • Peter Christoph Biel: Physical development after intrauterine dystrophy: Evaluation & follow-up of the birth cohorts 1982 - 1994 Hamburg 2000, DNB 964212072 (Dissertation Universität Hamburg 2000, full text online PDF, free of charge, 105 pages, 944 kB ( summary PDF, 1 page, 11.3 kB)).

Individual evidence

  1. See the detailed discussion by Goltermann bes, pp. 289 f. and 372 ff.
  2. Kathrin Krypczik, Bodo Ritscher : Every disease could be fatal. Medical care, diseases and mortality in the Soviet Buchenwald special camp 1945–1950 ; Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-89244-953-8 .
  3. Kurt Gauger : The dystrophy as a psychosomatic disease picture. Origin, manifestations, treatment, assessment, medical, sociological and legal late effects . Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich 1952, DNB 451445104
  4. The sickness of the returnees . In: Der Spiegel . No. 41 , 1953, pp. 26-27 ( online ).
  5. Sabine Bode, Luise Reddemann: The forgotten generation - the war children break their silence. 14th edition. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2014, p. 48f, ISBN 978-3-608-94797-7