Sixteenth-century German scholar Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa was known for his expertise in philosophy and the occult. He also taught at the universities of Pavia and Dôle. His De occulta philosophia suggested magic as a way to reach God. He was eventually branded a heretic and imprisoned.
A pioneer of physical anthropology, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach laid down one of the first racial classification systems for humans after studying human skulls, dividing mankind into five racial groups. Born into a family of academics, he was a prodigy. He was against scientific racism, though his theory promoted the degenerative hypothesis.
Paul Schäfer Schneide was a Nazi era German colonel, who at the end of WWII founded an orphanage in West Germany. Charged with child molestation, he fled to Chile, where he established an isolated colony. But charged with child abuse, he had to flee once more before being arrested and convicted on twenty-five counts. He died while serving his term.
Eighteenth-century German physician Johann Friedrich Struensee was the official physician of King Christian VII of Denmark, who was mentally unstable. He later started dominating the court and also began an affair with Queen Caroline Matilda. In spite of introducing several reforms, he was eventually beheaded, following a coup.
German biologist and eugenicist Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer was an advocate of racial hygiene and the mandatory sterilization of the physically and mentally disabled. He also led the Nazi experiments on twins based on body parts made available to him from the inmates of various concentration camps.
Eduard Schnitzer, or Emin Pasha, was born into a German Jewish family in modern-day Poland. A qualified physician, he moved to Constantinople after being disqualified in Germany. He not only served the Ottoman rulers but also surveyed and explored Africa extensively. He was eventually killed by Arab slave raiders.
Maja Einstein is remembered as Albert Einstein’s younger sister and only sibling. After acquiring a Ph.D. in romance languages and literature from Bern, Switzerland, she got married. However, at the beginning of World War II, she fled to the U.S. and remained estranged from her husband till her death.
German-born zoologist and botanist Georg Wilhelm Steller traveled to Russia on a troop ship. He was later part of the Great Northern Expedition, aboard the St. Peter, aimed at locating a sea route from Russia to North America. The Steller’s sea cow, discovered by him, went extinct later.
10 Paul Rée
German author and philosopher Paul Rée, whose writings influenced much of his friend Friedrich Nietzsche’s works, was born to affluent Jewish parents. While he initially studied philosophy and law, Rée later became a physician. He died while hiking on the Swiss Alps, though some feel he had committed suicide.
Seventeenth-century German physician and traveler Engelbert Kaempfer had been on trade missions across the world, including places such as Russia, Iran, Java, and Japan. His written experiences about his stay in Japan became a valuable source of information on the flora and fauna of the country.
Andreas Libavius was a German professor and physician. He was a renaissance man known for practicing alchemy. He wrote a book called Alchemia, one of the first chemistry textbooks ever written. He taught history and poetry at the University of Jena and later became a physician at the Gymnasium in Rothenburg. He also founded the Gymnasium at Coburg.
13 Paul Fleming
Seventeenth-century lyrical poet Paul Fleming was also a skilled physician. A disciple of Martin Opitz, he composed love poems and religious hymns. He was also the first German to make use of the sonnet form effectively. He had also been a merchant in Russia and Iran for several years.
14 Ernst Wynder
The founder of the American Health Foundation, physician Ernst Wynder was born to Jewish parents in Westphalia and had fled to the US with his family during the Nazi regime. Ironically, though he had devoted his life to cancer research, he eventually succumbed to thyroid cancer.
Pathologist Friedrich Theodor von Frerichs, considered the founder of experimental pathology, had initially been an optician and had also taught at several universities. His contributions include studies in kidney and liver diseases and research on multiple sclerosis. He also released the first German book on nephrology.