Wilhelm His (medic, 1863)

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Wilhelm His 1902 on a photograph by Nicola Perscheid

Wilhelm His (born December 29, 1863 in Basel , † November 10, 1934 in Brombach near Lörrach ) was a German internist and cardiologist .


Wilhelm His (the younger) was born one of six children in Wilhelm His's family. The father was a respected anatomist and physiologist of his time, who had worked as full professor in Basel for 15 years and in Leipzig for 32 years. His brother Rudolf His was a well-known legal historian.

education and profession

He studied medicine in Geneva , Leipzig , Bern and Strasbourg , where he worked in the pharmacological-chemical laboratory with Oswald Schmiedeberg on the metabolic product of pyridine , among other things . In 1889 he received his doctorate in Leipzig and at the same time joined the Leipzig clinic as an assistant, which Heinrich Curschmann (1846–1910) had just taken over. In 1891, His qualified as a professor in internal medicine. The description of the atrioventricular bundle in 1893 was presented by His in 1895 at the third international congress of physiologists in Bern.

After eight years as an assistant (1889-1897) His held his inaugural lecture in 1897. He was appointed associate professor at the University of Leipzig in 1895, at the same time he took on Prussian citizenship. In 1901 His was appointed senior physician at the Friedrichstadt Hospital in Dresden . In 1902 he followed a call as full professor to Basel, 1906 to Göttingen and 1907 to Berlin . Here he introduced himself as a supporter of a psychological-ethical medical art and as a "scientific-humanistic" empiricist.

As a Prussian citizen, His was obliged to make himself available to the army in the event of war. This situation occurred in 1914, and the German national enthusiasm for war seized him too. His volunteered and was deployed as a "Internal Medicine Consultant at Stage Inspection VIII". In this capacity he traveled to almost all fronts of the First World War (France, Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, Armenia, Syria, Palestine) until 1917 . He was the inspector of the hospitals on site and, above all, was responsible for combating epidemics such as cholera , typhus , dysentery , typhus and relapsing fever through appropriate hygiene measures . His used short stays at home for lectures and publications about his research results (including: caring for the wounded, "fatigue hearts" and "war nephritis").

A session of the Congress of Internal Medicine in Warsaw

His organized the German Congress for Internal Medicine, which usually took place in Wiesbaden, as an extraordinary conference in May 1916 in occupied Warsaw . In his opening speech he described the war as a "mass health experiment". After the congress, he, chairman of the congress, together with Wilhelm Weintraud, managing director of the congress, published the “Negotiations of the extraordinary conference of the German congress for internal medicine in Warsaw”.

After the end of the war he returned to Berlin. Another teaching activity followed in Berlin at the I. Medical Clinic of the Charité . The years after his retirement (1931/32) devoted His scientific work as co-editor of the medical clinic (1913-1931), as author and chairman of the German Society for Internal Medicine . In 1922 he was elected a member of the Leopoldina . From 1923 to 1924 he was chairman of the Society of German Natural Scientists and Doctors . Heidelberg internist Richard Siebeck is one of Wilhelm His's students .

From 1918 to 1932 His was a member of the board of trustees of the Fürst Donnersmarck Foundation in Berlin .


With the support of his father, His initially worked with Romberg on the history of the development of the cardiac nervous system. He proved that the ganglion cells of the heart belong to the sympathetic nervous system . He presented these results in 1890 at the Congress for Internal Medicine in Vienna .

The decisive advance was the observation in the embryonic heart that the occurrence of cardiac contractions preceded the formation of cardiac ganglia within the developmental history. Since the conduction of excitation in the embryonic heart runs through muscle fibers, His concluded that a similar pathway for excitation propagation in the adult heart is possible. His was able to dissociate the heart rhythm in three of 21 warm-blooded hearts after incisions in the area of ​​the septum . He proved the existence and function of the atrioventricular conduction system, thus the presence of an atrioventricular muscle connection: the His bundle as part of the conduction system of the heart (1893).

His also published on various areas of internal medicine (e.g. on the pharmacology of cardiacs ).

His eponyms

  • His bundle electrography : with a intracardially introduced catheter derived potentials of the His bundle.
  • His bundle ablation : Therapy method with transvenous interruption of the atrioventricular conduction by electrocoagulation .
  • Bundle of His block : Cardiac arrhythmia caused by ischemic, inflammatory or primarily degenerative disease of the bundle of His.
  • His bundle-extrasystole : premature occurrence of a cardiac action in which the atria and ventricles are excited by a common, intermediate excitation focus.
  • His Purkinje tachycardia : cardiac arrhythmia with ectopic focus in the proximal parts of the ventricular conduction system.
  • His disease : Volhynian fever , which His had observed in 1915 as an advisor to the medical services in the military hospitals in the war zones, a cyclical feverish state ( five-day fever ) with symptoms similar to malaria.
  • His angle : the angle between the esophagus and gastric bladder that appears acute (cardiofundal or esophagogastric angle)
  • His-Purkinje system

Fonts (selection)

  • Contributions to the anatomy of the human heart. Leipzig 1886.
  • The Action of the Embryonic Heart, and Its Significance in the Doctrine of Heart Movement in Adults . In: H. Curschmann H et al .: Anatomical, experimental and clinical contributions to the pathology of the circulatory system. Leipzig 1893, p. 14
  • Today's views on the healing value of mineral waters: academic inaugural lecture. - Leipzig: Hirzel, 1897. Digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf
  • About the natural inequality of people . Berlin 1928
  • Wilhelm His the anatomist . Berlin 1931
  • The front of the doctors . Bielefeld 1931 (2 editions; about his trip to Turkey in 1917 on the military fronts and his observations among German and Turkish soldiers) ( digitized version )
  • On the history of the atrioventricular bundle with remarks on the embryonic heart activity . In: Klin Wochenschr 12 (1933) 569


  • Eberhard J. Wormer : Syndromes of cardiology and their creators . Munich 1989, pp. 117-124
  • Theodor Brugsch : doctor for five decades . Berlin 1958, p. 258
  • Ludolf von Krehl : Wilhelm His . Münchn Med Wochenschr 80 (1933) 2044
  • Bast, Gardner: Wilhelm His, Jr. and the Bundle of His . J Hist Med Allied Sci IV, 1949, pp 170-187.
  • Barbara I. Tshisuaka: His, Wilhelm d. J. 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. 604.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wolfgang U. Eckart : Medicine and War. Germany 1914-1924 , Ferdinand Schöningh Verlag Paderborn 2014, on Wilhelm His's role in the Balkans and in Palestine pp. 320–321, ISBN 978-3-506-75677-0 .
  2. ^ Sebastian Weinert: 100 Years of the Fürst Donnersmarck Foundation 1916–2016. Berlin 2016. p. 68.

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm His Junior  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files