Ludwig Aschoff

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Ludwig Aschoff

Karl Albert Ludwig Aschoff (born January 10, 1866 in Berlin , † June 24, 1942 in Freiburg im Breisgau ) was a German pathologist .


The parents were the Secret Medical Councilor Friedrich Heinrich Ludwig Aschoff and his wife Blanka Wilhelmine (Heinze). Ludwig was the oldest of three siblings and attended the Askanische Gymnasium together with his brother . The paternal grandfather was a pharmacist in Bielefeld .

Aschoff married Clara Dieterichs in 1895. The marriage resulted in three daughters (Anni, Heta and Eva) and two sons. His son Volker Aschoff (1907–1996) was professor for electrical communications engineering and rector of RWTH Aachen from 1952 to 1975 . His son Jürgen Aschoff (1913–1998) was director at the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology and one of the founders of chronobiology .

education and profession

Memorial plaque on the house, Hallesche Strasse 24, in Berlin-Kreuzberg
Aschoff's grave in the main cemetery in Freiburg im Breisgau

Aschoff studied since 1885 at the medical faculty of the University of Bonn , where he was a member of the Alemannia Bonn fraternity . In the fall of 1887 he went to the University of Strasbourg to study clinical studies , where he particularly valued the lectures by Adolf Kussmaul at the medical clinic there and heard pathological anatomy from Friedrich von Recklinghausen . In 1889 Aschoff moved to the University of Würzburg and returned to Bonn for the winter semester to do his doctorate there in December, and in January 1890 he passed the medical state examination.

In 1891 Aschoff received the assistant position he had hoped for at von Recklinghausen in Strasbourg and stayed there for two and a half years. In October 1893 he joined the Pathological Institute in Göttingen as Johannes Orth's second assistant . After his habilitation in June 1894 for general and pathological anatomy, he was appointed professor of pathology in Göttingen in September 1901 . Study trips in the winter of 1901/02 took him to the Jenner Institute in London, to the tropical medicine schools in London and Liverpool, and to the Pasteur Institute in Paris . In 1903 he took over the chair for pathological anatomy at the University of Marburg .

In the spring of 1906 Aschoff was offered a position at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg , where he stayed until his retirement in 1936. In the same year he accepted the invitation of the British Medical Association by William Osler to come to Toronto for a lecture and visited the USA for the first time . In 1913 he made further lecture tours to the USA, New York City and Buffalo . Since 1910 he was a member of the board of the German Society for Racial Hygiene .

During the First World War , Aschoff worked with short interruptions as an army pathologist for the field medical director and gained pathological-anatomical experience in war surgical sections . He stayed briefly in Belgium , Poland and Turkey . From 1915 to 1916 he was rector of the University of Freiburg .

Aschoff, who is now considered the most renowned German pathologist of the first half of the 20th century, received several calls from other universities, but could not make up his mind to leave Freiburg. At the invitation of the Russian Pathological Society, he traveled to Russia in the autumn of 1923 , followed by the west coast of the USA, another visit to England, and in 1926 trips to Japan , Spain , Hungary and the Caucasus . In 1926 he was elected a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina . From 1931 to 1932 he was chairman of the Society of German Natural Scientists and Doctors . From 1933 he was an extraordinary member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences .

During the National Socialist era , he was a lecturer in the history of medicine from 1936 to 1940. On the occasion of his 75th birthday in 1941, the Freiburg Alma Mater made him an honorary citizen of the University of. He was also awarded the Goethe Medal for Art and Science and the Eagle Shield of the German Empire by Adolf Hitler .


Aschoff not only made an extraordinary contribution to scientific medicine in Germany, but also made a significant contribution to restoring the international recognition of German medicine after the First World War, as well as to international scientific cooperation. Aschoff himself has produced more than 400 of his own works, and over 1000 publications by his students can be attributed to his work performance and initiative.

clinical research

In 1904 he discovered the rheumatic nodules in the heart muscle, which were later named after him ( Aschoff nodules ). With his student Sunao Tawara , he described the AV node ( Aschoff-Tawara node ) in 1906 . He carried out fundamental studies on lipid metabolism , which significantly expanded our knowledge of the genesis of atherosclerosis . This was followed by work on the function of the adrenal cortex and on cholelithiasis , which led him to the term reticulo-endothelial cell system (RES) , which he was able to draw on from his extensive knowledge of the literature. He particularly emphasized the contributions of his colleague K. Kiyono, with whom he had published his first findings in 1913.

In 1914 he founded an important war pathology collection. His research on the bottleneck of the stomach (1918) led to research into the causes of gastric ulcer . Aschoff worked over gas gangrene infections , tetanus (proposal of a prophylactic tetanus vaccination ) on thrombosis (1912), the ectopic pregnancy , the goiter problem and the pathogenesis of lung dwindling investigated (1925).

In 1908 he had already described the etiology and the course of appendicitis . In 1908 he published the textbook Pathological Anatomy and worked out the definition of terms such as inflammation , health and disease . Aschoff's scientific approach was based on morphological findings and expanded to include a functional approach that should also meet the needs of the practical clinician.

Medical history

He also represented the cultivation of historical awareness in practical medicine. The overview tables on the history of medicine were first presented in 1898. In addition, he dealt with the history of the discovery of the blood circulation (1938), the history of syphilis and Rudolf Virchow's science and world renown (1940). Aschoff insisted "that the careful study of the history of medicine and the successful use of this discipline offer the opportunity for a prejudice-free approach - beyond the faculty itself - to all questions relating to teaching, diagnostics and therapy." After leaving Paul Diepgens himself headed the Institute for the History of Medicine in Freiburg for a short time.


Aschoff was positive about National Socialism : “In the meantime I have been thinking about the new state. We all have to support and encourage it. It is the last refuge before Bolshevism. And it's about our people, not about the intellectuals ” (in a letter of April 26, 1933). His farewell speech on the occasion of his retirement in 1936 also makes clear the influence of national sentiments on German science.


In particular, the contacts to Japan proved to be very fruitful: In the early 20th century , 23 out of 26 chairs at Japanese pathological institutes were occupied by Aschoff's students.

On his travels he acted as a passionate photographer who still produced large-format black and white images with plate cameras .

Ludwig Aschoff was a founding member of the Freiburg Medical Society.


  • The Marburg Heart Center of the Philipps University of Marburg has been awarding the Ludwig Aschoff Medal for Medicine since 2004: one-sided bronze plaque without a year, 90 × 61 mm. Medalist: Alexander Kraumann (1870–1956). Obverse: bust with dress approach to the right, including three lines of text: LUDWIG / ASCHOFF / FREIBURG i. B. 1906–1936, artist's signature lower right: KRAUMANN
  • At the Freiburg University, on the anniversary of Ludwig Aschoff's death from the Freiburg Medical Society, the Aschoff lecture is given by a renowned scientist.
  • In Freiburg im Breisgau , the place where Ludwig Aschoff lived was named after him ( Ludwig-Aschoff-Platz ). At the end of 2016, a "Commission for the Review of Freiburg Street Names", chaired by historian Bernd Martin, recommended a renaming, as Aschoff was to be seen as a "pioneer for the spread of ethnic-racist ideas". In 2018, the city council voted in principle for a renaming of the square, which was finally renamed Heinrich-Rosenberg-Platz in 2020 .
  • A street in Cologne is named after him (Ludwig-Aschoff-Straße).


  • Aschoff-Tawara node , atrioventricular node
  • Aschoff (Geipel) nodules , demonstrative pathological-anatomical substrate of rheumatic disease. Aschoff presented a first presentation of this finding in 1904. The nodules appear in three stages.
  • Aschoff-Puhl-Reinfekt , term of the pathological-anatomical (-immunological) theory of tuberculosis . A secondary tuberculous focus of infection caused by renewed exogenous reinfection has a different tissue structure due to the previous primary infection and the associated reactions of the immune system .
  • Aschoff-Rokitansky sinus , tubular indentations in the mucosal epithelium of the gallbladder that extend into the muscle layer .


  • together with Georg Heinze and Alexander Pflüger: History of the Bonner Burschenschaft (1818–1833): Ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Alemannia fraternity in Bonn and the 75th anniversary of the Bonn fraternity. Berlin 1894.
  • Ehrlich's side chain theory and its application to artificial immunization processes . Fischer, Jena 1902
  • Report on the investigations of Dr. Tawara, concerning the “bridge fibers”, and demonstration of the associated microscopic preparations . Münchn Med Wochenschr 52 (1905) 1904
  • On the myocarditis question . Verh Dtsch Pathol Ges 8 (1904) 46
  • Today's teaching of the pathological-anatomical basis of cardiac insufficiency (with S. Tawara). Jena 1906
  • Pathological anatomy . 1908
  • with K. Kiyono: On the question of the large mononuclear ones . Folia Haem 15: 385-390 (1913)
  • The reticuloendothelial system . Erg Inn Med Kinderheilk 26 (1924) pp. 1–117
  • Medicine and Mission in the Far East . Berlin 1926
  • Rudolf Virchow. Science and world renown. Hoffmann and Campe Verlag, Hamburg 1940.


  • Ludwig Aschoff: Ludwig Aschoff. A life of scholarship in letters to the family . Freiburg: Schulz 1966.
  • Franz Büchner: Commemorative speech for Ludwig Aschoff: Go. on December 5, 1943 at the commemoration of the d. Univ. Freiburg i. Br. Freiburg i. Br .: Alber 1946.
  • Georg Dhom: Ludwig Aschoff . In: History of Histopathology . Berlin / Heidelberg / New York: Springer-Verlag, 2001, pp. 391–394 ( online ). ISBN 3-540-67490-X
  • Freiburg and Japanese Medicine: Travel Reports by Ludwig Aschoff, Theodor Axenfeld, Franz Büchner . Freiburg i. Br .: Falk Foundation, 1986.
  • Edith Heischkel-ArteltAschoff, Ludwig. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 1, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1953, ISBN 3-428-00182-6 , p. 413 ( digitized version ).
  • W. Koch: Ludwig Aschoff . Münchner Med Wochenschrift No. 73 (1926), p. 753.
  • Bernd Martin: The Freiburg pathology in war and post-war times (1906–1963). Constitutional pathology, defense pathology and human experiments, “pathology” of repression . Regional culture publishing house, Ubstadt-Weiher 2018, ISBN 978-3-955-05067-2 .
  • CR Prüll: Pathology and Politics - Ludwig Aschoff (1866-1942) and the German way into the Third Reich . History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, No. 19 (1997), pp. 331-68.
  • Cay-Rüdiger Prüll: Aschoff, Ludwig. In: Werner E. Gerabek u. a. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of medical history. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 110.
  • MB Schmidt: Ludwig Aschoff . Central sheet for general pathology and pathological anatomy, No. 80 (1943), p. 1.
  • Reichs Handbuch der Deutschen Gesellschaft - The handbook of personalities in words and pictures , first volume, Deutscher Wirtschaftsverlag, Berlin 1930, p. 40, ISBN 3-598-30664-4
  • Eberhard J. Wormer: Syndromes of cardiology and their creators . Munich 1989, pp. 7-16.

Web links

Commons : Ludwig Aschoff  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Ludwig Aschoff  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Aschoff, Ludwig , in: Friedhelm Golücke : Author's lexicon for student and university history. SH-Verlag, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-89498-130-X . P. 17.
  2. a b Ernst Klee : The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945 . Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Second updated edition, Frankfurt am Main 2005, p. 20.
  3. Commission recommends renaming Freiburg street names: Ludwig-Aschoff-Platz ,, accessed on October 14, 2016.
  4. ^ Badische Zeitung: Freiburg: City council decides to change street names - Freiburg - Badische Zeitung . ( [accessed on October 23, 2018]).
  5. ^ Jens Kitzler: Freiburg municipal council decides to rename further streets - Freiburg - Badische Zeitung . ( [accessed on March 3, 2020]).