Julius Hackethal

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Karl Heinrich Julius Hackethal (born November 6, 1921 in Reinholterode , Heiligenstadt district, today Eichsfeld district ; † October 17, 1997 in Bernau am Chiemsee ) was a surgeon , proponent of euthanasia and author of many books critical of his status. He accused his fellow doctors of numerous malpractice .


Julius Hackethal, initially called Karl Heinz by his family and himself , grew up on his parents' farm. He and his siblings had to help with the management of the 75 hectare property. His mother wanted him to be a country doctor.

He volunteered for the Wehrmacht , against the wishes of his parents, who then tried through a relative that he would still study medicine. So he got to the military medical academy, where he received a salary and went through the ranks of flagjunker , sergeant and later field medical officer . He studied medicine in Berlin , Würzburg and Göttingen . At the end of the war he was in his 8th semester. At that time he lived near Göttingen and learned that the University of Göttingen was issuing emergency approvals . Under adventurous circumstances, he drove to Göttingen and bribed the clerks with a box of Eckstein cigarettes in order to finish the procedure before the Americans arrived. His dissertation was published in 1944.

By 1950 he completed a surgical training at the district hospital in Eschwege . In 1952 he moved to the Orthopedic University Clinic in Münster ; 1954 followed the habilitation in the subject orthopedics , 1956 additionally for surgery at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg . In 1962 he was appointed associate professor. From 1981 to 1988 he ran a private cancer clinic on Lake Chiemsee , and in 1989 he founded his own clinic for holistic medicine and selected surgery at Gut Spreng in Riedering in the Rosenheim district .

According to the DocCheck News editorial team, he died at the age of 75 of lung metastases from his untreated prostate cancer .

Julius Hackethal had three children, a son and two daughters.


Working life

As a trauma surgeon , he invented the bundle nails named after him in 1961 . They are called Hackethal nails, one spoke of Hackethal nails. Today they are no longer used.

Erlangen professors' dispute

Hackethal first caused a stir in 1963 when he accused Gerd Hegemann, head of the surgery clinic in Erlangen, with 138 serious malpractice, more than half of which were fatal. Given the conditions in Erlangen, Hackethal no longer wanted to continue working and refused to obey, whereupon he was dismissed. The dispute became known as the "Erlangen professors' dispute". In one case, Hackethal even filed charges of murder . All 138 alleged malpractice were cleared up within a very short time. The head of the clinic obtained an injunction that Hackethal was no longer allowed to express the allegations. Hackethal's academic career was over. In the following, he replaced the author's name "Karl Heinz Hackethal", which had been used up until then for his publications, for his now purely popular scientific works with "Julius Hackethal".

In 1965 he became an assistant doctor at the Lauenburg Municipal Hospital and, after the previous chief doctor had left, his successor. He remained chief surgeon until 1974 before opening his own practice. His book Auf Messers Schneide made him known in 1976. In it, he advocated alternative treatments, more ethics in medicine and a better patient-doctor relationship . The book Nachoperation followed a year later . In it he processed his Erlangen experience with the hospital hierarchy.

Through his numerous public appearances and publications, he became one of the best-known and also most controversial doctors in Germany. He was an expert witness in numerous lawsuits for medical malpractice and repeatedly attacked his peers sharply.

Theses on cancer treatment

His theses on cancer treatment were, among other things, that in established medicine a "mutilation strategy" would be used in cancer treatment . The type of surgery and the use of chemotherapy would often cause unnecessary harm. In 1981 he went to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio to find out about cancer treatment there. He then argued that some cancers are better left alone instead of having an operation. He coined the term “pet cancer” for this. His theses on cancer prevention and cancer treatment, especially prostate cancer , were very controversial. His appearance at the trial of Erich Honecker, suffering from cancer, also caused a stir . He was invited by the co-plaintiff and stated there that he could stop the cancer cells from spreading by means of a syringe that blocked the hormone testosterone .


In the mid-1980s, Hackethal was involved in euthanasia and for the German Society for Human Dying . He advocated active euthanasia and confessed that he had given his mother a lethal injection. A film he made caused a sensation showing how he gave potassium cyanide to a seriously ill woman whose face had been destroyed by cancer and operations . There was no conviction because the woman had drank the cup with the poison on her own.

In the course of his work, numerous criminal and professional proceedings were initiated against Hackethal , including killing on demand , as he was accused of actively assisting the terminally ill. However, he was never convicted. He himself also initiated numerous proceedings. According to his own statements, he spent half a million DM on court costs in the course of his life.

EX International

The association EX international, "Association to Help Self-Determined Humane Dying", founded in 1996, based in Bern (2018), gave until 2018 "Prof. J. Hackethal † ”as patron.


  • Thrombosis and embolism . 1957.
  • Sudeck's Syndrome . Hüthig, 1958.
  • The bundle nailing . 1959.
  • On a knife edge. Surgeons' art and mistakes . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1976; Luebbe. (Bergisch Gladbach 1995) ( No. 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list from October 11 to November 28, 1976 and from February 28 to March 6, 1977 ).
  • Reoperation. Emergency intervention to correct an anti-patient health system . Molden, Vienna 1977 (Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1995; No. 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list from July 11 to August 21, 1977 ).
  • Consultation hour. Cases, surgeries, advice. Experience in the field of surgery of the musculoskeletal system . Molden, Vienna 1978 (Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1994).
  • Hospital. About patient fates and conditions in our clinics . Molden, Vienna 1979 (Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1994).
  • Don't be afraid of cancer. Prostate cancer key witness against the conventional medical rabiat strategy in cancer . Molden, Vienna 1978 (Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1994).
  • Surgery - yes or no? Advice for the sick and healthy . Goldmann, Munich 1980 (Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1994).
  • Human dying. Killing pity as a patient's right and a doctor's duty . Herbig, Munich 1988.
    • Corrected paperback edition as: Human life to the end. For the patient's right to self-determination . Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1990 (Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1995).
  • The perjury of Hippocrates. From the conspiracy of the doctors to the self-determination of the patient . Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1992 (paperback ibid. 1993).
  • The madness that makes me happy. Doctor's career and heresy . Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1995 (paperback ibid. 1997; autobiography ).

Individual evidence

  1. Julius Hackethal: The madness that makes me happy . ISBN 3-7857-0742-8 , pp. 202-204 .
  2. Karl Heinz Hackethal: The histological picture in juvenile bleeding . Dissertation . Göttingen 1944, DNB  481686886 .
  3. Do you remember… Julius Hackethal? In: DocCheck News. November 25, 2008.
  4. Wolfgang Wiese: "Please call me Julius". In: Zeit Online . October 13, 1978. Retrieved January 18, 2016 .
  5. Christian von Goldammer: The therapy of the humeral shaft fracture. Dissertation. Ruhr University Bochum 2001, DNB 964996863 , pp. 20, 22.
  6. See DNB entry
  7. Unreasonable to the last. In: Spiegel Online. January 11, 2013.
  8. Help me, I can't go on living like this . In: Der Spiegel . No. 18 , 1984, pp. 237-246 ( online ).
  9. [1] , accessed on March 9, 2019.

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