We have already discussed Germany's pressing need for efficient treatment of the Tuberculosis bacillus at the end of the nineteenth century on our Beelitz-Heilstätten mini-site but if you wish to read a little more about the TB problem in that period please click the link in the name ABOVE .
If you wish to open a Google Earth aerial view of the Hohenlychen site please click the Fly Me There link to the RIGHT .
Before the discovery and regular use of antibiotics in the middle of the twentieth century the only known treatment for TB was fresh air, a balanced diet and adequate exercise, together with surgical intervention when it proved necessary. To that end, from the late 1890s onwards, the German authorities built numerous state of the art sanatoria all over the country and Heilstätten Hohenlychen is just one of many in the Brandenburg district of Prussia not very far from Berlin.
acquired a ten acre site on the banks of the Zenssee lake just outside the
city of Lychen in order to build a children's sanatorium, funded by
donations from the German people and the Red Cross.
Initially only 30 beds were provided but within a few years this number
had increased to 500 and a second sanatorium was opened on the site for
the treatment of adult women.
In 1904 the building of a chapel on site, known as the
was funded by the Foundation of Venn.
It appears that unlike Beelitz-Heilstätten and many of the other German TB sanatoria, Hohenlychen was NOT used as a military hospital during the Great War however it was used in this roll in World War II.
With continued advances in the effective treatment of TB the requirement
for so large a number of sanatoria was cut to virtually zero within 30
years of the commencement of the massive German sanatoria building
Many of the sanatoria were so under-exploited that they stood empty and so
they were re-utilised for quite different purposes. Hohenlychen was no
exception, becoming a
dedicated centre for sports and work related injuries, and reconstructive
surgery. In addition it treated
adult patients with joint disease whilst other pulmonary conditions
continued to be treated there. Funding
by the German Sports Aid council facilitated expansion and modernisation
and the newly created
clinical department for sports and work-related injuries became a renowned
and popular institution treating many of the German national team's
athletes of the inter-war period.
Born on the 23rd. November, 1897 in Haag in Oberbayern, Gebhardt served as the Medical Superintendent at the sanatorium but he was also the Consulting Surgeon of the Waffen-SS, the Chief Surgeon of the SS and Reich Police, and personal physician to Heinrich Himmler.
Gebhardt, was the coordinator in chief of a series of surgical experiments performed on inmates of the concentration camps at Ravensbrück and Auschwitz. These experiments were an attempt to defend his approach to the surgical management of grossly contaminated traumatic injuries acquired on the battlefield. After the war he appeared at Nuremburg in the Doctors' Trial (American Military Tribunal No. I) and was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was found guilty and condemned to death on the 20th. August, 1947 and subsequently hanged on the 2nd. June, 1948, in Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria.
During the 1930s and World War II Hohenlychen became a popular place with officials of the Nazi hierarchy LEFT who would go there for rest and recreation - both Heinrich Himmler and Rudolf Hess practically took up residence when not on official duties elsewhere. The visitors books of that time have been signed by numerous prominent Nazis including Hitler, Reich sports leaders, secretaries, medical staff of the army, and international guests from all over the world including Italy, England, France, Portugal, Chile, Peru and Argentina. The mayor of Tokyo spent some time there as did the troubled Greek royal family. Regular series of high profile medical lectures were held at Hohenlychen primarily for the then medical elite, and the gymnasium could be used as a cinema for film screenings and corporate events.
large swimming pool was built which had a removable roof for fine weather
bathing, and an adjacent water treatment facility was created. In
addition to the swimming pool, bathers could also swim in the Zenssee
Sports playing fields were created around the site, a large pharmacy
facility was built, and even a weather station was designed and
constructed to facilitate the study of the relationship between weather
and ailments and diseases. At this time
Hohenlychen achieved a great international reputation in the field of
meniscal injuries - meniscal
tears are possibly the most common knee injury. Athletes, particularly
those who play contact sports, are at high risk for meniscal tears. When
people talk about torn cartilage in the knee, they are usually referring
to a torn meniscus. The hospital also excelled in the
rehabilitation of accident victims at this time.
Gebhardt himself carried out extensive
clinical trials on women prisoners in Ravensbruck concentration camp
The experimental group consisted of 36 women who were intentionally
wounded, and then had their wounds contaminated with bacteria
LEFT . In addition many also had
contaminated wood and glass particles forced into their thighs
RIGHT to facilitate the study of
the progression of the resulting infections.
Three of the experimental subjects died, and the doctors soon realised
that sulfonamides were largely ineffective in the treatment of wound
infections. Running in parallel
experiments were barbaric studies into the transplantation of bone, nerves
and muscles, the shocking human detritus of which can be seen