Georg Schaltenbrand grew up in Oberhausen and Upper Silesia. His father Eugen, who was married to Adele Pastor, was a member of the board of Gutehoffnungshütte in Oberhausen and chairman of the steelworks association in Düsseldorf. Georg Schaltenbrand obtained his university entrance qualification at the Oberrealschule in Katowice in 1916. After studying in Breslau, Göttingen, Munich and Hamburg, he was awarded a doctorate in medicine in 1923. The title of his Hamburg dissertation, supervised by Emil Kraepelin, was "Untersuchungen über Parkinsonismus und Hyoscinwirkung" (Investigations on Parkinsonism and Hyoscine Effect). Schaltenbrand continued his education in the USA, for example with the neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing in Boston (Rockefeller Foundation) in 1927/28. He returned to Hamburg in 1928, where he married Luise "Lu" Kleinwort the same year and habilitated with a study of human motor function. He was then appointed associate professor of neurology at Rockefeller University in Beijing. He returned to Germany in 1930, joining Max Nonne at the Neurological Clinic in Hamburg-Eppendorf as a senior physician. After Nonne's retirement in 1934, he directed the clinic on a provisional basis, but then moved to Würzburg as an assistant physician in 1935, where he established the neurological department at the Internal and Nervous Diseases Clinic. He took the chair of neurology, when it was established in 1937/38, and was soon appointed director of the neurological clinic. He continued to manage the clinic, with a five-year interruption after the end of the Nazi era, until 1968 even after his retirement in 1966.1
In Favor of Hitler
Schaltenbrand joined the anti-democratic "Stahlhelm" in 1933 and signed the "Bekenntnis der Professoren an den deutschen Universitäten und Hochschulen zu Adolf Hitler und dem nationalsozialistischen Staat" (Confession of Professors at German Universities and Colleges to Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist State) of November 9, 1933, and was a member of the NSDAP (May 1, 1937, no. 4850745). He was transferred to the SA as a "Stahlhelm" member, but left in 1936 because of his occupational stress.2 He also was a member of the Reichsschaft Hochschullehrer (Oct. 1, 1933), the NSD Ärztebund (1938, No. 24542), the NS Volkswohlfahrt, and of the NS Fliegerkorps as Obersturmführer.
Transfers of Cerebrospinal Fluid Between Humans and Monkeys
Schaltenbrand throughout his life believed that multiple sclerosis was an infectious disease. He thus contradicted Friedrich Curtius's view that it was a hereditary disease, which was more dangerous to those suffering from it under National Socialism.3 He removed cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from MS patients and transferred it to monkeys as part of a research project funded by the DFG in 1940.4 After some time, he removed the monkeys' cerebrospinal fluid and injected it into about 35 patients at the Werneck Psychiatric Clinic (Schweinfurt County) and about 20 critically ill patients at his own clinic.5 Michael Martin et al. summarize the "Schaltenbrand experiment" as follows: "The main focus of the series of experiments was the over-inoculation of supposedly infectious animal CSF (13 individual experiments) and, according to Schaltenbrand's conviction, infectious human cerebrospinalﬂfluids (10 experiments), in each case with cisternal application; control punctures were performed after about six weeks and after three months. Thus, in at least 23 cases he assumed to have transferred multiple sclerosis with humoral consequences (however, he also hoped for morphological sequelae) to the patients entrusted to him. Schaltenbrand himself saw the series of experiments as fully confirming his infectious hypothesis of MS."6
Schaltenbrand was well aware of the ethical problems of his experiment, in which two seriously ill patients died. Regarding his approach, he wrote: "Nevertheless, one cannot, of course, subject a healthy person or even a sick person to such an experiment. But I do believe that I can bear the responsibility of carrying out such experiments on people suffering from incurable complete stupefaction."7
Impeachment and Rehabilitation
Schaltenbrand was removed from office in 1945, due to these human experiments , but he was formally rehabilitated in 1950, not least because of a decisive expert opinion by former DGIM committee member Viktor von Weizsäcker.
Schaltenbrand had been able to obtain lenient sentences in the denazification process from the beginning. First classified as follower (Category IV), he was completely exonerated (Category V) after an appeal. Schaltenbrand submitted papers proving intrigues against him by his Würzburg colleague Werner Heyde, the head of the medical department of the Berlin "euthanasia" headquarters. There was also talk of links to military resistance.8 Schaltenbrand was politically active on the center-left in the Federal Republic. He participated in demonstrations against "rearmament" and signed a declaration against the emergency laws in 1966.9
Honorary Member of the DGIM in 1976
Multiple sclerosis and the functioning of the brain continued to be the focus of his research after 1945, culminating in his "Gehirnatlas" (Brain Atlas) in 1959. He had already been awarded the Martini Prize of the University of Hamburg in 1928. This was followed by the Röntgen Prize of the University of Würzburg (1943), the Wilhelm Erb Memorial Medal (1954), the Max Nun Memorial Medal (1966), and the Rinecker Medal of the Medical Faculty of Würzburg (1977). He was a member of the Leopoldina (1941), the Swiss Neurological Society (1955), the American Neurological Association (1955), and the American Acadamy of Neurology (1955). He was chairman of the German Neurological Society in 1953/54, and honorary chairman from since 1967. He also became honorary chairman of the Multiple Sclerosis Society in 1967. The DGIM made him an honorary member in 1976.
A bust honoring Schaltenbrand at Würzburg University Hospital was removed in 1996 and has been owned by the family since 1999. His work had previously been the subject of the film "Ärzte ohne Gewissen" (Doctors Without a Conscience), based on Ernst Klee's research.10 While Schaltenbrand may have cultivated the image of "Nazi opponent" in his family, his unethical human experiments will not be forgotten.11
For biography, see Werner E. Gerabek, Schaltenbrand, Georg in: Neue Deutsche Biographie 22 (2005), pp. 555-556 (www.deutsche-biographie.de, ins. 2.3.2020); Michael Martin/Heiner Fangerau/Axel Karenberg, Georg Schaltenbrand (1897-1979) und seine "entgrenzte Forschung" zur Multiplen Sklerose, in: Der Nervenarzt 91 (2020), Suppl. 1, pp. 43-52; Alf Mintzel, T 4-Aktion und Prof. Schaltenbrand's Multiple Sclerosis Research, in: www.prof-dr-alf-mintzel.de/blog/2017/04/06/41-die-duenne-decke-der-zivilisation-jaccuse/ 6.4.2017, ins. 3.3.2020; Ernst Klee, "Auschwitz, Nazi Medicine and its Victims," Frankfurt am Main 1997, p. 70 ff; Peter Weingart/Jürgen Kroll/Kurt Bayertz, Rasse, Blut und Gene. Geschichte der Eugenik und Rassenhygiene in Deutschland, Frankfurt am Main 1988; Michael I. Shevell/Bradley K. Evans, The "Schaltenbrand experiment". Scientific, historical, and ethical perspectives, in Neurology 44 (1994), pp. 350-355; Hartmut Collmann, Georges Schaltenbrand (26.11.1897-24.10.1979), in Würzburger medizinische Mitteilungen 27 (2008), pp. 64-92.See Martin/Fangerau/Karenberg, Schaltenbrand, p. 544.See Georg Schaltenbrand, Die Multiple Sklerose des Menschen, Leipzig 1943, p. 2; Friedrich Curtius, Multiple Sclerosis and Twin Research, in Zeitschrift für Neurologie und Psychiatrie 145 (1935).For DFG funding, see Georg Schaltenbrand, Die Multiple Sklerose des Menschen, Leipzig 1943, p. VII.For the Werneck institution, see Thomas Schmelter/Christine Meesmann/Gisela Walther/Herwig Praxl, Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Werneck, in: Michael von Cranach, Psychiatrie im Nationalsozialismus. Die bayerischen Heil- und Pflegeanstalten zwischen 1933 und 1944, Munich 1999.See Martin/Fangerau/Karenberg, Schaltenbrand, p. 547.Georg Schaltenbrand, Die Multiple Sklerose des Menschen, Leipzig 1943, pp. 180.See Martin/Fangerau/Karenberg, Schaltenbrand, p. 544.Cf. ibid.See Doctors Without Conscience. Human experimentation in the Third Reich. A film by Ernst Klee. Hessischer Rundfunk 1996 (www.youtube.com, accessed. 3.3.2020).See Alf Mintzel, T 4 Action and Prof. Schaltenbrand's Multiple Sclerosis Research, in: www.prof-dr-alf-mintzel.de/blog/2017/04/06/41-die-duenne-decke-der-zivilisation-jaccuse/, 6.4.2017, ins. 3/3/2020