Monday, July 12, 2010

Speaking of Health Fascists...

During the Third Reich the (mostly pro-homeopathy) Nazi leadership wanted to solve the homeopathy question once and for all. The research programme was carefully planned and rigorously executed. A report was written and it even survived the war. But it disappeared nevertheless – apparently in the hands of German homeopaths. Why? According to a very detailed eye-witness report, they were wholly and devastatingly negative.
Commentary on the Paris et al. paper by Edzard Ernst, published in British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (via DC's Improbable Science).

Liek was a hands-on practitioner but also something of a romantic, yearning after simpler times when science was not the be-all and end-all of medicine, when the doctor-patient relationship was (purportedly) intimate and sacred. As founding editor of Hippokrates, a magazine of general health interest with strong ties to homeopathy and the natural foods movement, he helped to usher in a broader and more holistic medicine of the sort embraced by many Nazi leaders—medical men like Kurt Klare, Karl Kötschau, Walter Schultze, and Ernst Günther Schenck, but also high-placed politicos like Heinrich Himmler, Julius Streicher, Rudolf Hess, and even Hitler himself.


Homeopaths likewise joined with Nazi enthusiasts to argue that mercury could cause memory loss and that arsenic could cause depression. The homeopathic stress on the potency of rare (or absent!) trace elements fit well with the idea that powerful bodily disturbances were likely to come from our surrounding ourselves with exotic substances like mercury, lead, and arsenic. The idea of prevention fit well with this notion that health could be restored by avoiding exposure to rare but powerful agents corroding the German Volkskörper.
Robert N. Proctor: The Nazi War on Cancer

Opening the international congress of the Homeopathic Society in the name of the Fuehrer on 8 August 1937, Rudolf Hess offered the following stout defence on the creed :« The new Germany considers it politically necessary to proceed in the verification of all phenomenons whatsoever. However, certain physicians have not hesitated to attack and reject not only new therapies but also others whose origins go back to a distant past, as is today the case of homeopathy, without even making the effort to subject these therapies to serious examination. For this reason, I have taken under my protection the XII International Congress of Homeopathy in Berlin, to express the interest of the National Socialist State in all modes of therapies that are useful to the people´s health ».

As a result of this high-grade intervention, it would appear, a well-known homeopath, Dr Fritz Donner (assisted by a pharmacologist and an internist), was ordered to come up with the necessary proofs. His findings were not published and they were withheld from the medical community for many years. It was only in 1969 that a translation of the Donner report appeared in a French magazine (the results were never published in Germany).

Henri Broch, who was responsible for the report coming to light, cites inter alia two letters of Fritz Donner to, respectively, E. Unseld, president of the German Association of Homeopathic Physicians, and H. Schoeler, editor-in-chief of the Allgemeine homöopathische Zeitung. These confirm that all of Donner´s findings were negative and that he came under pressure to conceal the results of his research. As Donner himself stated (translated from the french) : « One cannot inform homeopaths about the real nature of homeopathy, nor can one publish it in a homeopathic journal. In the best homeopathic tradition, anyone can come up with the most glaring absurdities and they will be published; by contrast, the fundamentals of an important medicine against diphtheria will never be published and the researcher who works on these sources will be threatened with immediate dismissal ».
Eric's HOMEOPATHY page

Hitler gets the results from his latest Homeopathy RCT

EoR wonders why 'modern' homeopaths (inverted commas because today's homeopaths are unchanged from those of two centuries ago) are so reluctant to mention their favourite therapy's embrace by the Nazis. They seem to be happy to claim support from anyone else.


  1. Downfall of Homeopathy is brilliant. (link)
    "Don't worry, I'm sure no-one reads the Guardian". Sob.

  2. I'm not sure about the "unchanged from those of two centuries ago." While the theoretical base is unchanged, the current ones seem to use minimal amounts of water.
    I think that in the mid 19th century, British homeopaths also gave 'water cures' giving people substantial amounts of water to drink, which was better for those with cholera than the period's "conventional medicine" that could mean bleeding them or keeping them from drinking.

  3. The role of Donner here is misrepresented. He was not the leader of the German research effort. The French translation of Donner's report dates from 1969 in a homeopathic journal. Parts of the German version appeared already in 1986. A French translation of the Schoeler and Unseld letters appeared in a 1985 book by Aulas. Search Google with Donner + homeopathy + report OR Donner + disaster + homeopathy and find out more.


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