Helmut Ferner

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Helmut Richard Ferner (born September 27, 1912 in Graz , † February 2, 1998 ) was a German university professor of anatomy .


On September 27, 1912, Helmut Ferner was born as the first child of the classical philologist Michael Ferner and his wife Mathilde, geb. Wilfer, born in Graz. He spent his early childhood in Sankt Michael im Lungau . His father was transferred to Mährisch Neustadt in 1918 . Furthermore, he attended elementary school there until 1921. In that year his father was again transferred to the Bohemian Krummau an der Moldau near the border . Furthermore, he was a student of the humanistic state high school from 1922 to 1930. There he passed the final examination with distinction. He completed his medical studies at the German University of Prague , which he began in 1931, on March 19, 1936 with the state medical examination. Since 1934 - already during his medical studies - he became the first assistant to the anatomist and embryologist Otto Grosser . He stayed there until 1938 and then switched to Max Clara at the Anatomical Institute of Leipzig University as an assistant .

In 1940 he was drafted into the Wehrmacht. He served in the Air Force, in 1941 he became a troop doctor for anti-aircraft units in Holland, Belgium and northern France. As an assistant doctor in 1941 he had the rank of medical officer in the Air Force, in 1942 he became senior physician and from January 1, 1944, medical officer. In March 1942 he received special leave to complete the habilitation process "for anatomy, histology and history of development" at the Medical Faculty of the University of Leipzig. Then he was again a department doctor at his old unit. In the course of the retreat movements, this was increasingly used in ground combat. In April 1942 he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd class and shortly before the military collapse with the EK 1 for his courage, which was demonstrated several times in the medical care of the wounded and sick soldiers entrusted to him. He was released early from British captivity on October 30, 1945.


From November 1, 1945 to June 19, 1947, he was acting director of the Anatomical Institute of the Hanseatic University of Hamburg . On June 20, 1947 he was appointed adjunct professor, on January 1, 1950 to the Scientific Council and on April 1, 1955 to the head of department. From November 1, 1957 to August 31, 1961, he was also a full professor and director of the Institute for Histology at the Saarland University in Homburg. On September 1, 1961, he accepted a call as full professor and director of the Anatomical Institute of Heidelberg University . In April 1972 he accepted a position as a full university professor and head of the 1st anatomical chair at the University of Vienna . Until his retirement on March 31, 1981, he worked in Vienna.

Other important contributions concern the histology of the pancreas and islets of Langerhans including the pathophysiology of diabetes mellitus . The trigeminal cistern described and named by him for the first time plays a role in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia through the injection of sclerosing agents. Furthermore, works on the female and male gonads were also created through close collaboration with the clinic. His work on the course of the internal cerebral veins in humans as well as the fine structure of the gallbladder epithelium , the human salivary glands , the taste buds , the anchoring of the zonular fibers , to name just a few examples, make unmistakable references to clinical issues.


Ferner's scientific work is particularly dedicated to clinical issues. In his lectures he always emphasized the importance of the material he presented for medical practice. His teaching activity was thereby primarily enlivened, not only by the precision of his presentation.

He also suffered from the student unrest he experienced at Heidelberg University . Furthermore, was rather uninterested in university policy issues. His primary aim was to provide “his students” with solid knowledge. To this end, he saw it as necessary to hold his extremely carefully prepared lectures undisturbed. This goal seemed to him rather endangered at a mass university . On July 7, 1969, the “Badische Latest Nachrichten” printed an article in which it was reported that he was involved in a violent confrontation with demonstrators that was extremely dangerous for him. At that time the SDS called for a lecture boycott. Such repeated disputes were also profound. He saw them as personal defeats, even as failures. This explains his vulnerability to unexpected disappointments. According to Jochen Staubesand, the allegations made against Ferner lack any comprehensible basis. He asks the question: Was Furthermore a bellicose militarist? Staustesand takes the view that he was more pacifist and that he was not an advocate of the then ruling Nazi regime even in times of war. Ferner's deployment in World War II was, in his opinion, motivated by Ferner's convinced attitude as a doctor. Even Max Clara was a possible role model for many years as a general practitioner.

In addition to his reliability, his willingness to give more than to take, his unpretentiousness, his ability to listen, his moral courage, and his strength of character, also included his reliability, his willingness to give more than take, and to draw conclusions from his own wrong decisions. On February 2, 1998, Helmut Ferner passed away.

In his address on the occasion of the academic memorial service for Helmut Ferner in Vienna on May 7, 1998, his long-time assistant in Homburg and Heidelberg, Horst Franz Kern , pointed out the extraordinary generosity of his boss with which he promoted his employees. His performance-relatedness for others showed u. a. also in the style of his teaching activity and in the unusual self-directed claim to make anatomical lessons didactic and interesting. As early as 1972, the Heidelberg anatomist Wolf-Georg Forssmann , son of Werner Forßmann , judged that if Ferners accepted the call to Vienna, the University of Heidelberg would lose “one of the most prominent anatomists in Germany”, “who enjoys international reputation as a scientist”. Forssmann also pointed out the extraordinary quality of the anatomical lessons offered by Ferner.



Original work
  • Contributions to the histobiology of the islets of Langerhans in humans, with special consideration of the silver cells and their relationship to pancreatic diabetes . Verlag Springer, Berlin 1942; Pp. 87-136: With 24 illustrations in the text. From: Virchows Archiv f. pathol. Anatomy Physiology on clinical Medicine. Vol. 309, H. 1; Leipzig, Medical Faculty, post-doctoral thesis 1942
  • The trigeminal neuralgia. Pathophysiology and Etiology . In: Acta Neurochirurgica 18, 129-169 (1968)
  • Anatomical and phlebographic studies of the internal cerebral veins in humans . In: Journal of Anatomy and History of Development . Vol. 120, pp. 481-491. 1958. doi : 10.1007 / BF00533981
  • About the ciliary anchoring of the zonular fibers and the tonofibrils in the lens epithelium of humans . Z. cell research. 45, pp. 517-521 (1957)
Anatomical textbooks and atlases
  • Anatomy of the nervous system and the human sensory organs . Verlag E. Reinhardt, Munich & Basel, 5 1973; 375 p., 234 illustrations, 2 color plates, linen cover; ISBN 3-497-00473-1 ; Reinhardt's Grundrisse: Medicine
  • Outline of the history of human development. Verlag E. Reinhardt, Munich & Basel, 11 1970 [62. - 70th thousand] verb. u. exp. Ed., 200 p., 132 illustrations. u. graph. Representations, cardboard. ISBN 3-497-00472-3 ; Reinhardt's Grundrisse: Medicine
  • Eduard Pernkopf : Atlas of the topographical and applied human anatomy . Edited by H. Ferner. Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich-Berlin-Vienna, Vol. 1 1963, Vol. 2 1964. 2 1980. English and Italian licensed editions.
  • Johannes Sobotta : Atlas of the human anatomy . 17th (1972/1973) and 18th (1982) editions, vol. 1 u. 2. Edited by H. Ferner and J. Staubesand. Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich-Vienna-Baltimore. Arabic, English, French, Italian, Greek, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish license editions.
  • Max Clara , K. Herschel, H. Ferner: Atlas of the normal microscopic anatomy of humans . Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich-Berlin-Vienna 1974. License d. Barth Verlag, Leipzig.
Manual contributions
  • The Anatomy of Trigeminal Root and the Gasserian Ganglion and their Relations to the Cerebral Meninges . In: Hassler / Walker (Eds.) Trigeminal Neuralgia. Thieme-Verlag, Stuttgart 1970
  • together with Ch. Zaki: Microscopic anatomy of the testicle and the lower urinary tract . In: Handbook of Urology. Vol. I, 411-475. Springer-Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg-New York 1969
Numismatics and History of Anatomy
  • Anatomia in nummis . Urban & Schwarzenberg publishing house, Munich, Berlin & Vienna 1972; 159 pp., 157 illustrations; Linen; ISBN 3-541-05221-X .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Jochen Staubesand: In memoriam Helmut Ferner 1912–1998 . Annals of Anatomy - Anatomical scoreboard . 1998; Article in German language; PMID 10049194 ; (1998 Dec.) 180 (6): pp. 481-486