XVIth Convention of the Julius-Hirschberg-Gesellschaft
September 3rd - 6th
2002 Weimar


in Order of the Lecturers' Program

Robert A. Crone (Amsterdam):
Goethe’s Colour Theory

In search of the laws of colour harmony Goethe was impressed by the phenomen
that dark mountains look blue when seen through a semitransparent medium, and
the sun becomes yellow under the same circumstandes. This ,,primordial
phenomen", and the sacrosanct sublimity of natural white light, were Goethes two
mystical starting points for his theory of colours (1810 ). Goethe believed in the
objective reality of colours and unlike Newton, had no reason to distinguish
physical and psychological aspects of colours. For his colour theory Goethe used
Schelling's concepts of polarity and augmentation, and especially Aristotle's linear
colour system. Philosophers and artists admired the book, physicists condemned it.

Prof. Dr. R. A. Crone, Reguliersgracht 1, NL-1017 LJ Amsterdam


Manfred Jähne (Aue)
“Generally the eye of him is excellent speaking” –
Description of the eyes of J. W. von Goethe

Contemporaries and guests in the house on the “Frauenplan” in Weimar
described repeatedly the pair of eyes of the most famous German poet Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), so did it Carl Gustav Carus (1789–1869) very

The interpretation of portraits of Goethe, contemporary observations, eyeglasses in
his heritage and his sensual physiological works are to bring a transparency of his

The myopia which is described in literature is not surely proved. The opacities in
his corpus vitreum were described by Goethe himself in a poem.
This paper engages with the disease of Goethe’s head in 1901 too. His aversion
to spectacles is analysed.

The connections to ophthalmology, in those days not an independent field of
medicine, are appreciated for example: the operation of cataract, disease of
saccus and ductus lacrimalis, examinations in colour-blindness.

Dr. med. habil. M. Jähne, Semmelweis-Siedlung 8, D-08301 Schlema


Robert Heitz (Haguenau):
Goethe’s Testimony on Ophthalmology in Strasbourg (1770–1771)

Goethe has stayed in Strasbourg from March 1770 to August 1771 with the
intention of completing his studies the law. During the winter term 1770-1771 he
attended as a non-registered student the lectures at the Faculty of Medicine by the
chemist and botanist Jacques-Reinbold Spielmann (1722.–1783), the anatomist
and surgeon Jean-Frederic Lobstein (1736–1784) and the clinician Jean-Frederic
Ehrmann (1739–1794).

Staying at Strasbourg, Goethe was bound up by a durable friendship to the future
oculist Heinrich Jung-Stilling (1740–1817) and to the poet and philosopher Johann
Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) of which he has described the operation of the
dacryocystitis by Lobstein.

Dr. med. Dr. phil. R. Heitz, 22 rue de l’Aqueduc, F-67500 Haguenau

Robert Heitz (Haguenau):
Goethe et l’ophtalmologie à Strasbourg (1770–1771)

Goethe séjourna à Strasbourg de mars 1770 à août 1771 dans l’intention de
completér ses études de droit. Au cours du semestre d’hiver 1770–1771 il assista
en auditeur libre aux cours de la Faculté de médecine dispensés par la chimiste
et botaniste Jacques-Reinbold Spielmann (1722–1783), par l’anatomiste et
chirurgien Jean-Frédéric Lobstein (1736–1784) et par le clinicien Jean-Frédéric
Ehrmann (1739–1794).

Durant son séjour à Strasbourg, Goethe se lia d’une amitié durable avec le futur
oculiste Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling (1740–1817) et l’écrivain et philosophe
Joahnn-Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) dont il décrit l’opération de la dacryocystite
par Lobstein.


Frank Krogmann (Thüngersheim):
Goethe, Ginkgo and Ophthalmology
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great poet and embodiment of classical age
has been engaged also in natural science. Attention is to be drawn to his works on
theory of colours, anatomy and metamorphosis of plants. The sense organ “eye”
pervades all his opus.Goethe extols the oriental culture basis of occidental civilization. Chinese medicine

had already used ginkgo for curing millenia ago. Also modern medicine uses
ginkgo in therapy, so does ophthalmology. Goethe’s poem is known all over the
world, by whom the poet pays tribute to Ginkgo biloba
Goethe, Ginkgo biloba, and ophthalmology are connected.

F. Krogmann, Kirchgasse 6, D-97291 Thüngersheim


Jutta Herde (Halle):
The Anatomist and Surgeon Justus Christian Loder – A Friend by Goethe

Justus Christian Loder’s personality had evolved at the parental house and at the
university of Göttingen. Loder was born 28th of February (12th of March) 1753 in
Riga. His father came from the principality of Bayreuth. He was the headmaster of
the Lyzeum and deacon too. His mother was miss Cappel from Livland. Loder
studied medicine from 1773 to 1777 at the very famous university of Göttingen.

With the thesis “Descriptio anatomica baseos cranii humani” he took doctor’s
degree in 1777. In 1778 he got the chair of anatomy, surgery and obstetrics at the
university of Jena. At the same time he became a member of the medical faculty
and the academic senate. He was working in Jena für 25 years.

His untiring industry and his excellent professionship provided increasing
numbers of students and the blossom time of the Jena university. J. W. von Goethe
and Ch. Hufeland have been close friends with Loder. Goethe attended Loder’s
lectures and he has learned to dissect. Loder was one of the most famous
anatomists at the time. Beside of this main field of interests Loder was an
obstetrician, a surgeon, ophthalmologist, medical expert, physiologist and
university teacher too. He founded the first maternity home and the anatomical
theatre in Jena. Loder went on study trip abroad in 1782/83. By reason of quarrel
with his colleagues Loder moved to the Alma mater halensis in 1803. The closing
of the university of Halle by Napoleon in 1806 and the missing of a clinical hospital
were reasonable for Loder to become personal physician of the Prussian royal
family having run away to Königsberg.

From 1810 to the end of his days Loder has been living and working in St.
Petersburg and Moscow. Czar Alexander appointed him personal physician. In
Moscow Loder founded the anatomical institute. Also from Russia he has
maintained the correspondence with Goethe. Loder published the most papers
while staying at Jena. One of his meaningful works are Tabulae anatomicae,
1803. We will report on his ophthalmological work. Loder died in Moscow at 16th of
April in 1832.

Prof. Dr. J. Herde, Augenklinik der Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg,
Magdeburger Straße 8, D-06112 Halle


Dirk Ehrich, Hans-Gert Struck:
The Development of the Lacrimal Surgery at the Time of Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived at a time when fundamental changes in
definition of both the occupational image of physicians and the comprehension of
healthiness and illness occured. Men like Carus and Hufeland were inspired to be
a physician by Goethe as well outstanding personalities at the time and their
influence on his work was reflected in the scripts of Goethe.

Ophthalmology was developed significantly in the 18th and 19th century too.
Scientists like Georg Ernst Stahl (1659–1734), Johann Friedrich Lobstein
(1736–1784), Johann Adam Schmidt (1759–1809) und Gottlieb August Richter
(1742–1812) are considered to be pathfinders of modern lacrimal surgery. Goethe
himself was witness when Lobstein performed such kind of operation on Johann
Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) at Straßburg in 1770, and wrote about it in his novel
“Aus meinem Leben. Dichtung und Wahrheit” from 1811.

The methodic development of lacrimal surgery at the time will be presented.

Dr. med. D. Ehrich. Prof. Dr. H.-G. Struck, Augenklinik der
Martin-Luther- Universität, Halle-Wittenberg, Magdeburger Straße 8, D-06097 Halle


Gottfried Vesper (Leipzig):
The Eye Disease of the Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

Nietzsche suffered from high progressive myopy. Based on increasing changes of
the retina by Chorioretinits centralis there was progressive reduction of vision. He
was severely hampered by headaches and pain of the eyes. He was treated
several times, however, without improving his situation.

MR Dr. med. G. Vesper, Harnackstraße 9, D-04317 Leipzig


Herman Daels (Kortrijk):
About Scientific Activity of Reimond Speleers

In the first years of his practice from 1903 to the War in ’14 Speleers produced
several important publications:

  1. Gekleurde tranen (Mededeling XI, VI. Natuur- en Geneesk. Congres 2° helft n°
    14, 1907)
  2. Een eigenaardig jachtongeval (Nederl. Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde 1910 blz.
  3. Bindvliesschort (Hand. XV° VI. Natuur- en Genesk.. Congres 1911)
  4. Amblyopia of Neuritis retrobulbaris sympathica (Hand. XV° VI. Natuur-en
    Geneesk. Congres 1911)
  5. Over verbetering der prothese na uitschaling of uitlepeling van den oogbol
    (Hand. XVII Natuur- en Geneesk. Congres 1913)
  6. Oogbeleediging door zonsverduistering (Geneesk. Tijdschrift voor Belgie 1913)
  7. Ringskotoom bij verblinding door zonsverduistering (Nederl. Tijdschrift voor
    Geneeskunde 1913 blz. 1386)
In the study 6) „Oogbeleediging door zonsverduistering“ 1913 (14 pag) he analyzes
from own practice cases of eye damage by the solar eclipse on April 17, 1912.
He gave the history of the knowledge of this pathology.
Speleers distinguished between patients with visible changes in hte ocular fundus
and patient without them. In the last groupe (55 cases) he found as charateristic
subjective symptoms: a) lowering visus, b) the central scotom, c) disorder of the
colour perception. He added to the “scotoma heliclipticum“ three more symptoms:
d) the ringscotom (Jess 1912), e) Narrowing of the sigthfield, f) Enlargement of the
blind spot.
He established the similiarity with the sightfield of other pathologies. Speleers
goes into the discussion about the nature of aggression-generating rayons.
N.B. Th dispute about the etiology continues.

Dr. med. H. Daels, Beverlaai 53, B-8500 Kortrijk


Hans Remky (München):
Ophthalmosurgical Transplantatios on Humans

First (and mostly unique) experiments and results

Cornea – Sheep WUTZER/Bonn 1835 “sceral pupil“
Cornea – Pig KISSAM/New York Keratoplasty

Globe – Rabbit
CHIBRET/ Clermont-Ferrand 1885
TERRIER/Paris 1885
BRADFORD/Boston 1885
post Enucleation
Globe– Dog ROHMER/Nancy 1885 post enucleation
Vitreus – Rabbit, Calf DEUTSCHMANN/
Hamburg 1894
ret. Detachment
Ant. Eye-Segm. Human SHIMANOVSKI/ Kiev 1912 Leucoma corneae
Lens – Human CHAVKA/Beograd 1955 i.c. Aphaki

Prof. Dr. H. Remky, Arabellastraße 5–9, D-81925 München


Liliane Bellwald (Luxembourg):
Ophthalmological Texts of ‘Arnau de Vilanova’ (?1240–?1311)

The biography of the physician Arnaldo da Villanova shows the very interesting life
of a medieval scientist. His studies and teaching led him to the famous institutions
and universities of his time: eg. Paris, Montpellier, Salerno, Barcelona, Avignon.
The itinerary of his numerous journeys allowed him to see many places in
Western and Southern Europe.

He is the personal physician of the Pope Clement V, of the King of Sicile and of
Piedro III of Aragon. He travels as a diplomat to the French Royal Court. And in
Paris his problems with the Inquisition cause his arrest.

In fact, he is not only famous for his knowledge in medicine and surgery. Astrology
and alchemy are main subjects of his research manuscripts. By his theological
writings he risks his life. Many of his medical texts are edited. Among others we
can read to-day the comment of the famous ‘Regimen sanitatis’: ‘Medicina
Salernitana. Id est Conservandae bonae valetudinis praecepta‘. This text contains
several chapters concerning ophthalmology. Another manuscript is transmitting
the text of: ‘Arnaldi de Villanova libellus regiminis de confortatione visus‘.

Dr. med. L. Bellwald, B.P. 1268, L-1012 Luxembourg


Hans-Felix Piper (Lübeck):
Manfred Monjé, a Researcher between Eras

Manfred Monjé (1901–1981), at last holding a chair for Applied Physiology at the
University of Kiel, was probably the last sensory physiologist of a kind represented
by von Helmholtz, Hering and Tschermak. His life was determined by three political
eras: The Weimar republic, Third Reich and Worldwar II and the German Federal
Republic. In 1932 he wrote the chapter on “Methods of measuring time of
perception” in Abderhalden’s Handbook of Biological Methods. He then started
with physiological optics. A training in ophthalmology at the University of Kiel
enabled him to determine the visual threshold of healthy and diseased eyes:
Visual acuity, visual field, dark adaptation, colour vision and diplopic vision.

Connected with his name will remain: 1. Dependence of visual acuity and
stereopsis from stimulus duration and the concepts of stepwise and gliding
stimulus presentation. 2. Dependence of depth perception on the transition from
vertical to horizontal disparation (as can be demonstrated by tilting the 3 bars from
upright in horizontal position in the stereoeidometer). 3. Crowding phenomenon of
amblyopic eyes by enhanced edge contrast in the central visual field. His works on
aniseiconia and ametropia remain important basic scientific results. He also
supervised a large number of doctoral students. One of his close friends was
Herbert Schober, professor of physical optics, who also had to start anew after the

Prof. Dr. H.-F. Piper, Im Brandenbaumer Feld 32, D-23564 Lübeck


Gerhard Holland (Kiel):
Nyktalopie – Hemeralopie: How it is correct?

In the opinion of Hirschberg (1899) the term nyctalopia has for Hippokrates the
sense day blindness, for Galen and the after him coming ancient physicians as
Oribasius, Aetius and Paullus of Aegina however night blindness. The latter
definition was used till the end of the 17th century. Then a new expression for night
blindness was introduced: hemeralopia. This term is only once to be found in
ancient literature together with the term nyctalops but without any explanation.
Nyctalopia again became the word for day blindness. Is this change of definition
perhaps due to the famous Boerhaave? Since that time we find the term
hemeralopia in nearly all ophthalmological textbooks, in medical reference books
and in dictionaries with the exception of English literature in which meanwhile
again the term nyctalopia for night blindness is used. In 2001 Brouzas and others
from the “Hippocration” General Hospital of Athens published an investigation of
“Nyctalopia in Antiqity” with the result, that the term nyctalopia should exclusively be
used for the description of defective dark adaptation.

In our investigation a review is given about the historical development in the use of
the terms nyctalopia and hemeralopia from antiquity till now, we discuss the
question how the controversial meanings could be possible and why Hirschberg’s
opinion concerning Hippokrates from his point of view was wrong. We agree with
Brouzas and his colleagues. The correct expression for night blindness is

Prof. Dr. G. Holland, Esmarchstraße 51, D-42105 Kiel


Gerhard Keerl (Düsseldorf):
The Myth of Argos, the “Hundredeyed”

The fate of Argos is an only small event in all the circle of Greek myfhs. But from the
ophthalmological point of view he is of interest for his numerous eyes. His story
and his sufferings are caused by quarrrels of the highest God Zeus with his wife
Hera. For Zeus went astray with Io, the daughter of the inferior God Inachos. The
legend is taken for a local myth of the district of Argos and is mentioned first by
Hesiod (700 B.C.). Newer excavations found that al least fundamentals of Greek
mythology were known in the Mycenian period (1400–1200 B.C.) already. Is the
story of Argos as old too? This, the miserable instructions of watching Io, and his
death by Hermes will be reported. On other things, his fate was illustrated on
vases and some wallpaintings, found preserved by ashes in Pompei. As well the
names of Argos as well of Io were used in binary classification of biology.

Dr. med. G. Keerl, Droste-Hülshoffstraße 2, D-40474 Düsseldorf



Aloys Henning (Berlin):
A Last Will of the Oculist Joseph Hillmer and His Wife Charlotte Henriette von
Loeben of 1764

Among the documents of the Royal Prussian Chamber Court the Brandenburg
Landesarchiv at Potsdam helds a reciprocal last will and testament from February
8th in 1764 of the oculist Joseph Hillmer (born at February 8th in 1719) and his
wife Charlotte Henriette, signed by both with Joseph v. Hillmer Königl. Preuß.
HofRath and Maria Charlotte Henriette v. Hillmern gebohrne v. Löben. When his
34 years old wife has died at December 14th in 1767, Hillmer let publish the will by
the chamber court. It determined by Saxonian law the heritage for the oculist’s two
still living daughters who he had with his other wife Christiane Teischer from
Leipzig, deceased before, Johanna and Sophia von Hillmer, and for two children,
born to him by Charlotte Henriette: Charlotta Friderica Josepha and Constantin
Friderich Bogislaw. If the oculist would die, their mother should be universal heir.

The Hillmer’s will makes evident, the son Johann Joseph Hillmer, born in 1952 by
Christiane Teischer (Teutsch), had already died at the time (cf. Mitt. der JHG 2
(2001) pp. 65–82). The will announces a contract to Hillmer’s daughters with
Christiane Teischer on their maternal heritage by an uncompleted date.

Dr. med. Aloys Henning, Spandauer Straße 104 K, D-13591 Berlin



Marcus Blum (Erfurt):
200 years of Ohthalmology in Erfurt – from 1802 to 2002

In 1802 an article from Dr. Johann Friedrich Christoph Fischer was printed in the
newspaper in Thuringia, asking for support on the foundation of an eye hospital.
Few months later Fischer began to perform cataract surgery in Erfurt. Very soon
Fischer was given financial support by the state of Prussia and he remained head
of his hospital until 1845. From the funds he had raised a “Fischer Foundation“
existed until 1941, when during World war II the city council of Erfurt became the

In the second half of the 19th century the eye hospital had a number of different
doctors and finally was amalgamated with the general hospital run by the city
council. From 1906 onwards Dr. Otto Herzau was in charge of the eye hospital,
passing this position on to his son, Dr. Werner Herzog. However, when Herzau jun.
was appointed professor and chair at the University of Jena in 1953, the Erfurt
clinics became “Medizinische Akademie“.

After 1989 the Erfurt clinicum lost the status of an University Hospital and today,
after 200 years, the eye department is part of a large hospital complex in the capital
of the State Thüringen. The hospital is qualified as “academic teaching hospital“ of
the Friedrich-Schiller University Jena.

Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. habil. Marcus Blum, Dept. of Ohthalmology, Helios Klinikum
Erfurt, Nordhäuser Straße 11, D-99089 Erfurt



Daniel Hirsch-Kauffmann Jokl (New York):
Von Siebold in Japan – The Beginning of German Influence on Medicine

Phillip Franz von Siebold (1796-1866) born in Wuerzburg, Bavaria where, following
a family medical academic tradition, he trained in medicine and, 2 years later, was
posted by the Dutch East India Company to Deshima at Nagasaki, Japan. There,
he introduced Hippocratic traditions of bedside clinical observation and medical
management based on scientific Western concepts of medicine, surgery and
ophthalmology, founding the first European-run medical school. A botanist and
anthropologist as well, he, to this day, is upheld in Japan as the most influental
European physician responsible for restructuring Japanese medicine.

Prof. D. Hirsch-Kauffmann Jokl, M.D., New York Medical College, Columbia
University, One Stone Place, Bronxville; NY 10708, USA



Andreas Mettenleiter (Würzburg):
Dr. August Fabritius (1857–1945): A Transylvanian Ophthalmologist in the Light
of His Memories

Recently I could buy the memories of the Transylvanian ophthalmologist Dr.
August Joseph Fabritius (1857–1945) from the antiquarian booktrade. The
typewritten and hectographed manuscript contains 117 pages with handwritten
corrections by the author and a portrait photograph. It was written by the director of
the Kronstadt ophthalmic hospital in 1932 and distributed among a narrow circle of
friends and relatives. Fabritius, son of a Kronstadt ophthalmologist, studied
medicine in Vienna and Heidelberg, before he became „Operationszögling“
(surgeon trainee) of Theodor Billroth and Vinzenz Czerny. Later he returned to
Kronstadt and became assistant and finally successor of his father as a director of
the Kronstadt ophthalmic hospital. Apart from a detailed description of the situation
at the Surgical Clinics in Vienna and Heidelberg his memories give an insight into
the friendships with important ophthalmologists and surgeons of his times, e.g.
Karl Koller, Theodor Axenfeld, Anton von Eiselsberg. Furthermore, Fabritius, who
has also earned merits in the town politics of Kronstadt, offers an impression of
the political development of Transylvania and the situation of the Germans in this
area from the reign of the Habsburg monarchy to the Kingdom of Rumania.

Dr. med. Andreas Mettenleiter, Frankfurter Straße 11, D- 97082 Würzburg



Dieter Schmidt (Freiburg):
Hans Berger, the “Father of Electroencephalography”

Berger was born in Neuses near Coburg (May 21st, 1873). His father was a
physician. His mother was a daughter of the famous German poet Friedrich
Rückert. After his final school examination in 1892 (Gymnasium Ernestinum at
Coburg), he was a medical student in Würzburg, Berlin, München, Kiel, and Jena.
In 1897, he passed the final medical examination (Staatsexamen) in Jena and
specialized in Neurology and Psychiatry as a Medical Assistant under his famous
teacher Professor O. Binswanger. In 1901 he passed the faculty examination at the
University of Jena (Habilitation) in Neurology and Psychiatry, 1906 he was
appointed Professor and 1912 Consultant (Oberarzt). As a military surgeon he
participated in the First World War in a military hospital at Sedan and Rethel. After
the war, he was appointed the director of the Department of Neurology and
Psychiatry at the University of Jena (1919–1938). He was president of the
University of Jena in 1927/28. He wrote more than 100 publications, Pierre Gloor
(Montreal) called him (1969) the “father of electroencephalography”. He
participated in important international congresses, such as the International
Congress of Psychology in Paris (1937). The topic of his numerous publications –
which are important for ophthalmology – was on developmental disturbances of
the occipital lobe deprived by optical stimuli in dogs and cats (1900), on
experimental examination of eye movements elicited by visual stimuli (1901), on
the reaction time of the reflex action by threatening the human eye (1913), on two
cases of juvenile amaurotic (family) idiocy (1913), on pupilloplegia and its relation
to an organic disease of the central nervous system (1917), and on focal diseases
of the occipital lobe (1923)

Prof. Dr. D. Schmidt, Universitäts-Augenklinik Freiburg, Kilianstraße 5, D-79106



Jens Martin Rohrbach (Tübingen)
The Project “Ophthalmology 33–45“: Intentions and Current State

The history of ophthalmology in German-speaking countries from 1933 to 1945
has been hardly investigated. It can be assumed that ophthalmology was less
“near the system“ in comparison to e.g. anthropology, pediatry, or psychiatry. On
the occasion of the reconstitution of the German Ophthalmological Society
(Deutsche Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft (DOG)) in 1948, Walter Löhlein
(1882–1954) stated “that the German Ophthalmological Society in all the time
behind us did not exclude a member because of political, racial, or national
reasons”. From the standpoint of today there are some doubts whether this
statement was totally correct because it cannot be denied that leading
ophthalmologists like Aurel von Szily (1880–1945), Alfred Bielschowsky
(1871–1940) or Karl Wolfgang Ascher (1887–1972) lost their positions in university
eye clinics and as editors of ophthalmological journals and that they had to
emigrate. It is unclear till today how many jewish ophthalmologists shared that
same fate. On the contrary it cannot be denied too that some questions like
sterilizaiton of children with congenital cataract, which had arisen after declaration
of the “law for the prevention of offsprings with genetically transmissable
diseases” („Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses“) in July 1933 were
discussed controversely and by far not only “in the sense of the system”.

It is unknown how many ophthalmologists were members of nationalsocialistic
organizations. To the best of the author’s knowledge, the director of the university
eye clinic Tübingen at that time, Wolfgang Stock (1874–1956), did not support the
political system, and it is said that he wanted do “capture” his friend, field marshal
Erwin Rommel, in his clinic in order to hide him.

The purpose of the project is not only to deal with victims, with those who
committed crimes, and with prominent ophthalmologists of that period. It is rather
planned to investigate the following themes:

  • therapy of eye trauma at the front, in backward military hospitals, and in eye
    clinics at home
  • ophthalmological examinations of (healthy) soldiers
  • ophthalmological care for civilians
  • war destructions of university eye clinics
  • “last days” of the eastern university eye clinics (Königsberg and Breslau)
  • scientific activities and publications
  • scientific contacts with foreign countries
  • relations to Swiss ophthalmology
  • enforced workers in German eye clinics
  • ophthalmology in concentration camps

A detailed documentation will be finished, if at all, not until some years. However ,
first results can be presented. Though are some reservations about the project its
initiation seems justified in the light that few and fewer witnesses of that time are

Prof. Dr. Jens Martin Rohrbach, Universitäts-Augenklinik, Schleichstraße 12, D-72076



Frank Wilhelm (Halle)
The History of Cornea Transplantation in the former GDR

It is well known, that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe after variola was suffering from
scars in his face. At that time many people became blind because of corneal
scars. This was not the case in Goethe. May be otherwise the development of
cornea transplantation would have been quicker. So the report on the first
successful cornea transplantation by Eduard Zirm was published not before 1906.
On the territory of the former GDR – and at the time in whole Germany – Walter
Löhlein was the pioneer of cornea transplantation who in Berlin at the Charité
performed the first keratoplasty disseminating it in Germany. His pupils like H.
Harms and G. Günther brought the idea to Tübingen and Greifswald. For that
reason Greifswald became the GDR centre of cornea transplantation. Georg
Günther performed the first studies on cornea preservation by liquid mediums
(patient‘s serum). His pupil K.-E. Krüger established this surgery at Halle. Also at
the second medical faculty of Saxony-Anhalt the keratoplasty was already
established in the seventies and eighties (“Medizinische Akademie” Magdeburg).

From Magdeburg Günter Franke changed to Greifswald to continue G. Günther’s
tradition of cornea grafting, when the Head of the ophthalmic department Hans
Gliem, also a pupil of Günther, had become Director of the ophthalmic clinic at the
Berlin Charité. Thereafter numerous keratoplasties have been performed at
Greifswald and in Berlin. And consistently the first eye bank on the former territory
of the GDR (4th in Germany) was established there in 1992.

At Zittau (Saxony) G. Sommer has performed keratoplasties already at the time.
Additionally he was specialized in performing keratoprothesis. A lot of patients
went to Zittau for keratoprothesis. Sommer was supported in Zittau by the firm
Wilhem Deutschmann. This firm produced a suction trephine “Asmotom” –
developed by Gliem and Franke, and well established in the former GDR. Later
Sommer’s pupil M. Jähne was specialized in keratoplasty and established a
centre for cornea transplantation at Aue.

Reviewing the GDR the ophthalmic clinics at the Berlin Charité, of the University
Greifswald, at Aue and of the Medical Faculty Magdeburg and specialized on
caustic injuries the eye clinic of the University Halle-Wittenberg have been its most
important centres for cornea transplantation.

Prof. Dr. F. Wilhelm, Augenklinik der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg,
Magdeburger Straße 8, D-06097 Halle


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