Hugo Schottmüller

born on 09/22/1867 in Trebbin/Brandenburg
died on 05/19/1936 in Hamburg

DGIM Member 1907 – 1936

Hugo Schottmüller, born in Trebbin, Brandenburg on September 22, 1867, studied medicine in Tübingen, Berlin and Greifswald. He was a member of the Corps Rhenania and Marchia. He was awarded his doctorate in Greifswald after having passed the state examination in 1893. He spent several months at the Surgical Clinic in Hamburg-Eppendorf (Max Schede) and at the Institute of Hygiene in Greifswald (Friedrich Loeffler). At the same time, Schottmüller maintained contacts with Hermann Lenhartz, the director of the Medical Clinic in Eppendorf. It was soon known that Lenhartz's fame as "the literary herald of sepsis" was largely based on Schottmüller's support. The latter, in turn, benefited in 1895 from the controversies that Lenhartz's understanding of blood diseases provoked. Hermann Rumpel was considered "one of Lenhartz's most irreconcilable opponents". He thus he moved from Eppendorf to Barmbek and Schottmüller was able to take over his position as senior physician and head of a medical department. This marked the beginning of a development that, in retrospect, prompted Max Nonne to remark approvingly that Schottmüller had "founded a school" and "spread Eppendorf's reputation far beyond Germany."1

Schottmüller took over as director of the Medical Clinic at the German University in Prague in 1913, but returned to Hamburg as early as 1919, where the Medical Polyclinic became his academic home. He was not awarded full professorship until 1925. In addition to his successes in the field of sepsis research, he distinguished himself with the discovery of paratyphoid fever and its causative agent.2

Acknowledgement of National Socialism

Schottmüller joined the NSDAP (no. 3279662) on May 11, 1933. He was one of the signatories of the "Bekenntniss 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) on November 11, 1933. He was already a board member of the DGIM at that time, and was scheduled to become its chairman in 1935.3

Hugo Schottmüller was in no way inferior to his predecessor in the office of DGIM chairman, Alfred Schittenhelm, in his willingness to adapt to the Nazi state. When he presented his thoughts on the topics for the congress in 1934, that was to take place the next year, the first proposal can be seen as a tribute to the Nazi regime. Nevertheless, "questions of aero-medicine and sports medicine" seemed more innocuous at first glance than, for example, those of "racial hygiene." The human experiments in this field that served the Luftwaffe, did not take place until almost a decade later. The papers actually delivered a year later ranged from the "glorious war pilot[s]" of World War I (Heinrich Lottig) to the demand that "high-performance flying" be left only to "youthful individuals with elastic vascular systems" (Gustav Schubert).4

The committee also approved Schottmüller's other proposed topics: "Cardiac arrhythmia or the significance of the ECG in the regular heart", "hemorrhagic diatheses", "significance of serological methods of investigation for internal medicine", "rheumatism", "endothoracic [sic] pneumolysis", "the significance of gastroscopy" The committee also followed up on Schittenhelm's additional proposal ("The importance of carcinoma for internal medicine"). The same was true of the expectation expressed from within the committee to discuss "the importance of the diencephalon from the neurological and psychiatric point of view" as well as the "aphasia question".5

Controversy over Rudolf Degkwitz

When the congress program was completed, it was reviewed by the Reich Propaganda Ministry. Tradition has it that the Ministry intervened and prevented a lecture in at least one case. The Hamburg pediatrician and director of the University Children's Hospital - Rudolf Degkwitz - not a DGIM member, was affected.6 The latter had participated in the "March on the Feldherrnhalle" in 1923 and had joined the NSDAP the same year. Later, he believed he could put the NSDAP in its place and tame it, in which hefailed. He was suspended for the first time in May 1933 and the People's Court under Roland Freisler sentenced him to seven years in prison in 1944. Degkwitz was still able to pursue his medical duties in Eppendorf at the end of 1934 and in early 1935, but was scientifically isolated by the Nazi state, also by being banned from appearing at the DGIM congress in 1935. The DGIM intervened unsuccessfully under Schottmüller. There was a clear response from the Reich Ministry of Propaganda, "that it was not advisable to allow him to lecture at the congress."7

The DGIM congress chaired by Schottmüller took place in 1935, the year in which the Saarland was reincorporated into the Reich following a referendum, and Hitler's "Wehrmacht" replaced the Reichswehr. At the beginning of the Wiesbaden meeting, Schottmöller enthusiastically welcomed the "colleagues from the Saarland" and placed the event in a series with the "Day of Potsdam," which was to symbolize the coming together of conservatives, nationalists, and National Socialists:  "January 15 of this year, when the Saar miracle was announced, will be unforgettable to all of us. A powerful event, which, immediately following the day of Potsdam, engraved the rise of our German fatherland in world history with brazen letters, and which is now worthily joined by the rebirth of the German Wehrmacht on March 16 of this year. Yes, we doctors, whose foremost responsibility it is to take care of the fitness of the German youth, will above all be grateful to our Führer from the bottom of our hearts for this manly deed, which not only finally wipes out the disgrace of Versailles, but now restores to our young men the education to a powerful personality, which we had to do without for 15 years."8

Ideal of the "People's Doctor"

Schottmüller quoted Hitler extensively and took National Socialism to task for claiming that he "had no understanding of the importance of scientific research." Following Nazi ideology, Schottmüller turned away from the primacy of medicine directly benefiting the individual: "Medical research is no less necessary to push back the damage to the body of the people by infectious diseases, especially in its effect on the birth rate. We German researchers do not stand aside from the National Socialist service to the people. [...] Today's state rightly demands of the physician that he fulfill his duty not only as an individual physician, as the personal caretaker of the individual sick person, but also as the people's physician. He will have to realize that he will often have to compromise between what helps the individual sick person, and what the welfare of the family and the nation requires."9

Concretely, Schottmüller tried to minimize the potential for conflict during the heyday of "New German Healing" by postulating a symbiosis of "naturopathy" and "conventional medicine." A physician like his teacher Lenhartz, he argued, had always based his therapies on the combination of "rational scientific thought and action" and "methods [...] that are popularly referred to as naturopathic medicine today."10

Führer Principle Also at the DGIM

Schottmüller strove for a clearer approach to the Führer principle for the DGIM's internal rules. Despite the change in the statutes initiated the previous year in line with Berlin, Schottmüller envisioned a more far-reaching reform of the society's internal structures. He stated in the committee "that the Society's bylaws will have to be changed in some time and that the Society would then have a "Führer". According to the committee minutes, Schottmüller said, "it is still necessary to hold elections according to the old statutes this time."11 Richard Siebeck (Berlin), who later became chairman, was elected to the executive committee by acclamation.

Hugo Schottmüller died on May 19, 1936. The "Deutsche Sepsis-Gesellschaft" (German Sepsis Society) continues to award a Hugo Schottmüller Prize for basic research to this day.12 Schottmüllerstrasse in Hamburg-Eppendorf, originally named after the internist, was rededicated in 2014. It now commemorates the resistance fighter Oda Schottmüller, who was beheaded in Plötzensee in 1943.13


Max Nonne, Anfang und Ziel meines Lebens. Memoirs, 3rd verb. Aufl. Hamburg 1976, p. 268.See [Konrad] Bingold, Hugo Schottmüller †, in Medizinische Klinik 1936, no. 26, pp. 1-2. p. 2 (offprint).Bundesarchiv (BA) Berlin, BDC dossiers Schottmüller and Siebeck.H.[einrich] Lottig, Welche körperlichen und psychischen Eigenschaften sind Voraussetzung für die Fliegertauglichkeit? In: Verhandlungen 47 (1935), pp. 40-48, p. 48; Gustav Schubert, Die Belastung des menschlichen Körpers beim Hochleistungsflug unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Höhenfluges, in: Verhandlungen 47 (1935), pp. 14-26, p. 26.DGIM Wiesbaden, Protokollbuch der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Innere Medizin, 1931-1938, Zweite Ausschusssitzung, April 11, 1934.See Hendrik van den Bussche, Rudolf Degkwitz. The political controversy surrounding an extraordinary pediatrician, in Pediatrician and Adolescent Physician 30 (1999), pp. 425-431.Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, German Congress Headquarters, Box 154, Minister of Propaganda to DGIM, 6. 12.1934.[Hugo] Schottmüller, opening speech, in Verhandlungen 47 (1935), pp. 1-9.Schottmüller, opening speech, pp. 5 f.Schottmüller, opening speech, p. 6.DGIM Wiesbaden, Protokollbuch der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Innere Medizin, 1931-1938, Erste Ausschusssitzung, 24.

We use cookies on your browser to optimize the functionality of our website and to offer personalized advertising to visitors. Please confirm the selection of cookies to go directly to the website. For more information, please see Privacy. There you can also change your cookie settings at any time.

Mehr Info