Peter Plett

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Peter Plett (born December 29, 1766 in Klein Rheide ; † March 29, 1823 in Stakendorf ) was a German teacher in Schleswig-Holstein and a pioneer of smallpox vaccination .


From 1790, Plett held a position as a private tutor in Schönweide , where he heard from milkmaids that infection with cowpox protected against human pox. In 1791 he switched to the estate dairy on Hasselburg in Gut Wittenberg / Ostholstein. There he vaccinated three children of the tenant Martini with cowpox lymph and thus successfully protected them from human pox. These three children were the only ones to survive a local smallpox epidemic three years later. It was not until five years later that Edward Jenner discovered this method and became world famous.

Plett reported in 1790 and 1791/92 about his discovery of the University of Kiel , which they did not take seriously and suppressed. It was not until 1802, after Jenner's successes had reached Germany, that Plett was interviewed by the doctor Friedrich Adolf von Heinze on behalf of Christoph Heinrich Pfaff from the Medical Faculty of the University of Kiel . His report was published by Pfaff and also by Heinze himself and forwarded to the German government chancellery in Copenhagen .

From 1793, Plett attended the teachers' seminar in Kiel led by Heinrich Müller . In 1796 Pastor Johann Georg Schmidt , who counted him “one of the most capable Müller seminarians”, brought him as a teacher at the school in Laboe in his parish of Probsteierhagen . When Schmidt moved to Schönberg (Holstein) in 1807 , Plett followed him and became a teacher in Stakendorf in 1808 .

Franz Hermann Hegewisch , from 1809 at the University of Kiel, was familiar with Plett's reports on the successes of the cowpox vaccination and its fate within the university. He recommended the editor of the New Schleswig-Holstein Provincial Reports , Georg Peter Petersen , to bring an article about Plett's discovery. Petersen questioned Plett in Schönberg in 1814, published his report on it in 1815 and thus also confirmed Heinze's report from 1802.

Peter Plett was retired in Stakendorf in 1820 because of his alcoholism . Pastor Schmidt and his superior, Provost Cay Wilhelm von Ahlefeldt , negotiated a modest pension and accommodation for him with the Stakendorfer citizens. He died three years later at the age of 56.


In 1956 the community of Stakendorf erected a boulder in front of the former school building in memory of Peter Plett, the inscription of which was corrected in 2006 and an updated information board was added.


  • Peter C. Plett: Peter Plett (1766–1823), teacher in the provost's office and discoverer of the cowpox vaccination. Hergeröder printing company, Konstanz 2006
  • Peter C. Plett: Peter Plett and the rest of the discoverers of the cowpox vaccination before Edward Jenner. In: Sudhoffs Archive , Journal for the History of Science, Volume 90, Issue 2, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 2006, pp. 219–232 ( ISSN  0039-4564 )
  • Kari Köster-Lösche: The Blattern of the Melkdeerns, Peter Plett and the smallpox . In: Frank Stefan Becker and Jochen Rudschies (eds.): Die 13th Hour , Aufbau Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-7466-2622-2

Individual evidence

  1. N. Barquet and P. Domingo: Smallpox: the triumph over the most terrible of the ministers of death . In: Annals of Internal Medicine . tape 127 , 8 Pt 1, October 15, 1997, p. 635–642 , doi : 10.7326 / 0003-4819-127-8_part_1-199710150-00010 , PMID 9341063 .
  2. ^ Report of the medical faculty in Kiel to the royal German office in Copenhagen on cowpox in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein from December 3, 1802. In [Christoph Heinrich] Pfaff, [Paul] Scheel, [Carl Asmund] Rudolphi (ed.) : Nordic Archives for Natural History, Medicinal Science and Surgery , Volume 3 , Item 2, Copenhagen 1803, pp. 43–74. Digitizedhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/1%3D~GB%3D~IA%3D~MDZ%3D%0A10083653~SZ%3D307~ double-sided%3D~LT%3D~PUR%3D
  3. ^ Friedrich Adolf Heinze: History of a leaf vaccination with cow leaf lymph in the provost and some adjoining estates in the Duchy of Holstein. Hamburg 1802, pp. 19-21 digitizedhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/1%3D~GB%3D9qNkAAAAcAAJ~IA%3D~MDZ%3D%0A~SZ%3DPP5~ double-sided%3D~LT%3D~PUR%3D
  4. Where were the first cow leaves inoculated? In: Georg Peter Petersen (Ed.): New Schleswig-Holstein Provincial Reports, Kiel, 1815, 5th year, pp. 77-88.