Karl Eduard Rothschuh

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Karl Eduard Rothschuh (born July 6, 1908 in Aachen , † September 3, 1984 in Münster ) was a German cardiac physiologist and medical historian .

life and work

Rothschuh was the son of a doctor and attended the humanistic grammar school in Aachen , which he left in 1924 with the secondary school leaving certificate to begin an apprenticeship in agriculture. In 1929 he graduated from the Agricultural University in Bonn-Poppelsdorf . In 1930 he made up his Abitur and began studying medicine at the Universities of Hamburg and Munich in the 1930/31 winter semester , which he did in Frankfurt a. M. and graduated with the state examination on January 27, 1936 in Berlin . With the Frankfurt doctor and medical theorist Richard Koch , who in 1935 in the Soviet Unionemigrated, Rothschuh found support for his first scientific publication Theoretical Biology and Medicine , which appeared as a book in 1936 and was accepted as a doctoral thesis by the Berlin medical historian Paul Diepgen .

After completing his doctorate in 1937 and doing a medical internship in Aachen and Dresden , Rothschuh practiced as a trainee doctor with Louis Radcliffe Grote at the Dresden City Hospital in 1937 . On November 1, 1937, he began working as a scheduled scientific assistant under Erich Schütz at the Physiological Institute of the University of Münster . There he completed his habilitation in 1941 with his work, which was awarded the Von Eicken Prize in 1942, on the proportion of distant potentials in the action current image of the heart with local derivation, and in 1942 he was appointed private lecturer in the subject of physiology . After 1945 he rebuilt the physiological teaching business in Münster and from 1947 also took on a teaching position in the history of medicine . In February 1948 he was appointed associate professor . From 1949 to 1951 he was on leave of absence in Münster and acted as head of the Department of Physiology at the University of Würzburg . Back in Münster in 1952 he was appointed senior assistant at the Physiological Institute, and in 1956 he was appointed professor. Between 1938 and 1956 he published numerous original works, mainly on the electrophysiology of the heart, which were important for the diagnostic evaluation of the electrocardiogram . His first standard work on medical history, the History of Physiology , was published in 1953, his main work on medicine and the theory of science, Theory of the Organism, in 1959.

In 1960 Rothschuh was appointed director of the newly founded medical history institute and in 1962 professor for the history of medicine in Münster. His historical interest was in the history of basic physiological problems and the paths that doctors and philosophers of all times have taken to solve basic questions about the essence of life, the origin of disease and the interaction of body and soul. In-depth investigations concern, among other things, the medical concepts and methods of René Descartes , Claude Bernard , Friedrich Hoffmann , Alexander von Humboldt , Friedrich Oesterlen , the history of electrophysiology, the medicine of romanticism , iatromagy and the history of the naturopathic movement . In addition, he was concerned with problems of the general history of science such as the origins and context of discoveries, the causes of scientific “revolutions”, the problem of relevance and the responsibility of the researcher. In 1965 he founded the Society for the History of Science , of which he became honorary president in 1973. In 1973 he retired. In 1978 his medical-historical synopsis of concepts of medicine in the past and present appeared . Among his students was the philologist, neurologist, psychiatrist and medical historian Klemens Diecköfer, who wrote his medical history dissertation with Rothschuh.

Activities in National Socialism

Since the beginning of his student days in Berlin, Rothschuh belonged to the NS student union (until 1935) and was (probably until 1938) a member of the SA . In 1936 Rothschuh attended a course in the German Medical Association's driving school in Alt Rehse . He wrote a report about this for the magazine Der Jungarzt , which states, among other things: “We doctors get that inner certainty of medical action in Alt-Rehse, which must be based solely on the order of the Führer. The German people must become the healthiest and strongest people in Europe ”. In 1940 he applied for membership in the NSDAP . Since the head of the institute, Erich Schütz, was assigned to the aeronautical medical research institute , which was subordinate to the Reich Aviation Minister Hermann Göring , to Berlin in 1939 , Rothschuh was entrusted with the maintenance of classes in Münster and released from military service for this task. Contrary to the information provided by Klee , which is based on an unpublished manuscript by the Zurich medical historian Christoph Mörgeli , there is no evidence that Rothschuh carried out military medical research on behalf of the Reich Aviation Ministry or was involved in aviation medical projects of his institute director.

Memberships, honors

Fonts (selection)

  • Theoretical biology and medicine. On the biological foundation and scientific theory of medicine. Junker and Dünnhaupt, Berlin 1936 (= New German Research. Volume 83: Department of the History of Medicine and Natural Sciences. Volume 2). At the same time dissertation at the University of Berlin.
  • About the proportion of distant potentials in the action current image of the heart with local derivation. In: Journal for the entire experimental medicine. Volume 110, 1942, pp. 154-215.
  • On the history of the pathology of the blood, in particular on the study of the pungency, krasen and other defects of the juices. At the same time a contribution to the history of humoral pathology between 1750 and 1850. In: Sudhoffs archive. Volume 35, 1942, pp. 293-311.
  • History of physiology. Berlin / Göttingen / Heidelberg 1953.
    • English translation: History of Physiology. Translated and edited by Guenter B. Risse. Huntington / New York 1973.
  • Theory of the organism. Bios – psyche – pathos. Munich / Berlin 1959; 2nd, expanded edition, ibid. 1963.
  • as editor: From Boerhaave to Berger. The development of continental physiology in the 18th and 19th centuries with a special focus on neurophysiology. Stuttgart 1964 (= Medicine in History and Culture. Volume 5).
  • Principles of medicine. 1965.
  • Physiology: The Change in Its Concepts, Problems and Methods from the 16th to the 19th Century. 1968.
  • Technomorphic life model versus virtus model. In: Sudhoff's archive. Volume 54, 1970, pp. 337-354.
  • Laudation ranae exploratae. In: Sudhoff's archive. Volume 57, 1973, pp. 231-244.
  • Iatromagy: concept, characteristics, motifs, systematics. Opladen 1978 (= lectures, Rheinisch-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften: Geisteswissenschaften. Volume 225).
  • Concepts of medicine past and present. Hippokrates-Verlag, Stuttgart 1978.
  • Richard Hermann Koch (1882–1949). Doctor, medical historian, medical philosopher (biographical, ergographical). In: Medical History Journal. Volume 15, 1980, pp. 16-43 and 223-243.
  • Naturopathic movement, reform movement, alternative movement. Stuttgart 1983; Reprint Darmstadt 1986.


  • University archive of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster : personnel files of the rectorate and the medical faculty, personnel dossier of the press office.
  • Karl Eduard Rothschuh: ways and detours. In: Paths to the History of Science II . Edited by Kurt Mauel. Wiesbaden 1982, pp. 67-87 (autobiography).
  • Erwin Heinz Ackerknecht : Obituary. Karl Eduard Rothschuh 1908–1984 . In: Gesnerus. Swiss Journal of the History of Medicine and Sciences. Volume 42 (1985), pp. 201-202, (digitized version )
  • Werner E. GerabekRothschuh, Karl Eduard. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 22, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-428-11203-2 , p. 136 ( digitized version ).
  • Klemens Dieckhöfer: Rothschuh, Karl Eduard. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 1270.
  • Ernst Klee : The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. Second updated edition. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2005, p. 511, ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8 .
  • Werner Friedrich Kümmel: In the service of “national political education”? The history of medicine in the Third Reich . In: Medicine, Science, Technology and National Socialism. Continuities and discontinuities. On behalf of the DGGMNT ed. by Christoph Meinel and Peter Voswickel. Stuttgart 1994, pp. 295-319.
  • Richard Toellner (Ed.): Karl Eduard Rothschuh - Bibliography 1935–1983. Burgverlag Tecklenburg 1983 (= Munster contributions to the history and theory of medicine 19).
  • Richard Toellner: In memoriam Karl Eduard Rothschuh . In: Reports on the history of science . 8, 1985, pp. 1-6 (obituary).
  • Richard Toellner: Karl Eduard Rothschuh , in: Wolfgang U. Eckart and Christoph Gradmann (Hrsg.): Ärztelexikon. From antiquity to the 20th century , 1st edition 1995, CH Beck Munich, pp. 310–311, Ärztelexikon. From antiquity to the present , 2nd edition 2001, pp. 271–272, 3rd edition 2006 Springer Verlag Heidelberg, Berlin, New York p. 283

Individual evidence

  1. Klemens Dieckhöfer: Rothschuh, Karl Eduard. In: Encyclopedia of Medical History. 2005, p. 1270.
  2. See Richard Koch's letters in Rothschuh Richard Hermann Koch , pp. 16–43.
  3. ^ Richard Toellner : Karl Eduard Rothschuh , in: Wolfgang U. Eckart and Christoph Gradmann (eds.): Ärztelexikon. From antiquity to the 20th century , 1st edition 1995 CH Beck Munich pp. 310 + 311, medical dictionary. From antiquity to the present , 2nd edition 2001, pp. 271 + 272, 3rd edition 2006 Springer Verlag Heidelberg, Berlin, New York p. 283. Ärztelexikon 2006 , doi: 10.1007 / 978-3-540-29585 -3 .
  4. ^ Gundolf Keil to Klemens Dieckhöfer: Poetry and Medicine. On the personality structure, physical constitution in his poetic work and on the medical profession of the medical figures in Gerhart Hauptmann's works. Deutscher Wissenschafts-Verlag , Baden-Baden 2012 (= DWV-Schriften zur Medizingeschichte. Volume 13), ISBN 978-3-86888-051-9 (also Philosophical Dissertation Olomouc). In: Specialized prose research - Crossing borders. Volume 8/9, 2012/2013 (2014), pp. 571-575, here: pp. 571 f.
  5. Quoted from Klee Personenlexikon 2005, p. 511, cf. in addition, Kümmel p. 303 u. 313.
  6. Klee Personenlexikon 2005, p. 712.
  7. Personal file Rothschuh University Archives Münster . Here are u. a. all published by the end of 1944 u. planned work listed. See also the physiological publications by KE Rothschuh 1938–1952, in: Toellner, Karl Eduard Rothschuh , 1983, pp. 3–11.