Programm                 "Degeneration und Regeneration– Grundlagen, Diagnostik und Therapie"

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Ophthalmology during National Socialism

Rohrbach J. M.
University Eye Clinic, Dept. I, Tuebingen / Germany

The history of ophthalmology in German-speaking countries from 1933 to 1945 has been hardly investigated, and the statement of Walther Löhlein (1882-1954) on the occasion of the reconstitution of the German Ophthalmological Society (Deutsche Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft (DOG)) in 1948 "that the German Ophthalmological Society in all the time behind us did not exclude a member because of political, racial, or national reasons" has not been checked until now although leading ophthalmologists like Aurel von Szily (1880-1945), Alfred Bielschowsky (1871-1940) or Karl Wolfgang Ascher (1887-1972) undoubtedly lost their positions in university eye clinics and as editors of ophthalmological journals and had to emigrate. There were some prominent nazi ophthalmologists. However, ophthalmology was far less "near the system" in comparison to e.g. anthropology, pediatry, or psychiatry, and there were rather controversial discussions e.g. about sterilization 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. Ophthalmology during national socialism cannot be limited to victims and culprits. Though the results are preliminary the report will therefore deal with other topics like * therapy of eye trauma at the front, in backward military hospitals, and in eye clinics at home * ophthalmological care for civilians * war destruct

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