Robert Koch was a German microbiologist and physician. One of the prominent co-founders of modern bacteriology, Koch is credited with creating and improving laboratory techniques and technologies in the field of microbiology. He is also credited with making important discoveries in public health. In 1905, Robert Koch won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on tuberculosis.
Erik Erikson was a German-American psychoanalyst and developmental psychologist best remembered for developing a theory on the psychological development of humans. He is credited with coining the term identity crisis, the failure to achieve ego identity. Also a prolific writer, Erikson won a US National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize for his book Gandhi's Truth.
Rudolf Virchow was a German physician, pathologist, anthropologist, biologist, prehistorian, editor, writer, and politician. Nicknamed the Pope of medicine by his colleagues, Virchow is credited with founding the field of social medicine. He is also widely regarded as the father of modern pathology. Rudolf Virchow was the first person to name diseases, such as thrombosis, leukemia, ochronosis, embolism, and chordoma.
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.
Ernst Haeckel had initially practiced medicine before he gained an interest in Charles Darwin’s theory and began exploring zoology and related fields. He not only coined terms such as ecology, but also named numerous species and created a genealogical tree. He drew numerous figures of animals and sea creatures, too.
Popular with German elite for his unconventional treatment, Theodor Gilbert Morell came in contact with Adolf Hitler through Heinrich Hoffmann. Soon appointed the Chancellor’s personal physician, Morell remained with him for the last nine years of his life, helping him in his every day routine, receiving lucrative business contracts in return. Although arrested after the war, he was never convicted.
German scientist Paul Ehrlich is remembered for his contribution to immunology, which also won him a Nobel Prize. Known as the pioneer of chemotherapy, he also discovered the first-known treatment of syphilis. Born into a business family, he was introduced to the method of studying cells by his pathologist uncle.
Born in Prussia, Magnus Hirschfeld had initially studied languages and had then earned a medical degree. He grew up to be a prominent sexologist and gay rights activist who referred to the LGBT community as the “third sex.” His one-of-a-kind sexology institute was later destroyed by the Nazis.
Otto Heinrich Warburg was a German medical doctor and physiologist. In 1931, his discovery of the nature of the respiratory enzyme earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He also played an important role during World War I where he served as an officer in the cavalry regiment; he was honored with the Iron Cross for bravery.
10 Karen Horney
Remembered for her pioneering work on feminist psychology, Karen Horney studied medicine at a time when women weren’t allowed in universities. Going against Sigmund Freud’s concept of penis envy, she suggested the idea of womb envy. She believed psychological differences weren’t rooted in gender but rather depended on the socio-cultural influences.
A descendant of Pennsylvania founder William Penn through his mother, Hermann von Helmholtz studied medicine, pushed by his father, in spite of being interested in the natural sciences. Best known for his law of conservation of energy, he coalesced the fields of medicine, physiology, math, and physics in his studies.
12 Aribert Heim
Known as Dr. Death and the Butcher of Mauthausen, Nazi doctor Aribert Heim terrorized the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp with his deadly experiments and gruesome methods of torture. He apparently injected poison into the inmates and often removed organs leaving the inmates to die. He escaped prosecution and moved to Egypt.
The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann was a qualified physician but disapproved of medical practices such as bloodletting that were used back then. He thus formed his system of alternative medicine. The apathy of his fellow physicians in Leipzig forced him to move first to Köthen and then to Paris.
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.
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.
16 Franz Mesmer
Though a doctor, Franz Mesmer studied the influence of astronomical bodies on the human body and on an invisible fluid inside it. He was a pioneer of animal magnetism, or mesmerism, which paved the path for modern-day hypnotism. Critics slammed his ideas and called him a fraud, too.
German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer is noted for identifying the first published case of presenile dementia, which his colleague and German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin later identified as Alzheimer's disease. Alois publicly discussed his findings on brain pathology and symptoms of presenile dementia in late-1906 and penned a larger paper giving details of the disease and his findings in 1907.
18 Karl Jaspers
Twentieth-century Existentialist Karl Jaspers had initially followed in his father’s footsteps to study law, but had then switched to medicine. One of the pioneers of clinical psychiatry, he applied phenomenology to study mental illnesses and also developed psychopathological research. He was highly influenced by Immanuel Kant’s ideas.
19 Hans Eysenck
Born to German actor parents who divorced when he was 2, psychologist Hans Eysenck was raised by his grandmother till he went to England at 18. He is best remembered for his theories on personality and intelligence. His claim that genetic factors decide racial differences in intelligence was criticized.
German physician Werner Forssmann is best-known for developing a method that allowed cardiac catheterization. This led him to jointly receive the 1956 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Forssmann started clinical application of cardiac catheterization in 1929, when he inserted a catheter into a vein of his forearm and safely passed it into his heart and took an X-ray picture of it.
21 Max Gerson
German-American physician Max Gerson was the proponent of the Gerson Therapy, which began as a diet-based treatment for migraine but ended up being used by him as a treatment for tuberculosis and cancer. Though Gerson died of pneumonia, there was an alternate theory that stated he had been murdered.
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.
Initially a dermatologist, German doctor Herta Oberheuser later became Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler's personal physician. She was later part of gruesome and torturous medical experiments on Polish inmates at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. She was the only female doctor accused in the Nuremberg Doctors' Trial. Her license was revoked eventually.
Though Helmut Kentler initially wished to study theology, he was pushed into studying electrical engineering by his father. A homosexual himself, he later mastered psychology and became a pioneering sexual scientist. He was later criticized for placing homeless children under the care of pedophilic men as part of an experiment.
Nazi doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger was better known as Adolf Hitler's personal surgeon. He not only conducted gruesome experiments on female inmates of the concentration camps, but also helped kill Hitler’s dog and Magda Goebbels’s children in Hitler’s bunker, before he escaped and eventually committed suicide by consuming cyanide.
While serving at the Nazi concentration camps during World War II, doctor Ernst-Günther Schenck created a protein sausage for Nazi troops, which was tested on the camp inmates, leading to many deaths. His experiences were later penned by him in his memoir, which inspired films such as Downfall.
Initially a professor of sports medicine, Karl Gebhardt later joined the Nazi camp. He had headed the German Red Cross and also developed sports for the physically disabled. After being accused of failing to treat Reinhard Heydrich, he conducted deadly experiments on concentration camp inmates to prove his innocence.
28 Fritz Perls
Fritz Perls initially fought in World War I, following which he treated brain injuries of soldiers. He was later drawn to Freudian psychoanalysis. During World War II, he was the psychiatrist for the South African military. His Gestalt therapy, which he co-created with his wife, Laura, redefined psychology.
Eduard Wirths, the chief doctor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, was in charge of all the medical operations conducted at the camp. Wirths conducted several experiments, primarily related to cervical cancer, on the women inmates of the camp. Following his capture, he killed himself by hanging.
The son of a musician, Emil Kraepelin, remembered as the founder of psychiatry, was the first to differentiate between dementia praecox, now known as schizophrenia, and manic-depressive psychosis. His classification of mental illnesses influenced much of the research on the subject in the 20th century.
Born to an ENT surgeon in Germany, Hans Adolf Krebs followed in his father’s footsteps and studied medicine. After fleeing Nazi Germany, he went to England, where he joined the University of Cambridge as a researcher. The Nobel Prize-winning scientist is remembered for his groundbreaking discovery of cellular respiration.
Ernst-Robert Grawitz was a Nazi era physician, notorious for his enthusiastic experiments on inmates of concentration camps and his zeal for eradicating homosexuality. Also known for performing involuntary euthanasia on mentally ill and physically handicapped people, he was also in charge of processing researchers’ requests for performing experiments on the inmates. He committed suicide at the end of the war.
Known as Albert Dussel in Anne Frank’s diary, Fritz Pfeffer was a successful Jewish dentist who had hid along with Anne Frank and her family in the Secret Annex during the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. Initially deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, he later died at the Neuengamme concentration camp.
Known for his gruesome high-altitude/low-pressure, blood clotting, and freezing experiments on the inmates of the Dachau concentration camp, Nazi doctor Sigmund Rascher was a favorite of Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler. He was later accused of kidnapping children to prove his wife’s fertility at almost age 50.
35 Werner Haase
Originally professor of medicine, Werner Haase served as the deputy personal physician of German Chancellor Adolf Hitler from 1933 until the latter’s death in 1945, remaining with him in the Führerbunker to the very end. After Hitler committed suicide, he continued serving wounded soldiers and civilians until he was made a prisoner of war and died while serving his term.
Best known for leading the mass killing of Jews at the Treblinka extermination camp, psychiatrist Irmfried Eberl was eventually dismissed from his post because of his inefficiency in disposing of the bodies and thus causing a cremation backlog. Following the war, he hanged himself before being tried for his crimes.
37 Viktor Brack
One of the leaders of the Action T4 euthanasia plan that exterminated the physically and mentally disabled, Nazi Party member Viktor Brack also specialized in child euthanasia. He was also chosen to plan a sterilization drive for physically fit Jews. He was eventually hanged for his war crimes.
38 Alissa Jung
Alissa Jung began her career as a child actor and dubbing artist. The German actor later became a TV sensation and starred in films such as Des Kaisers neue Kleider and Tatort. She is also a qualified physician. She has shot documentaries, too, and heads the charity Pen Paper Peace.
Chiefly known for his works on the diagnosis and understanding of schizophrenia, German psychiatrist Kurt Schneider published many papers on the subject, creating a list of the psychotic symptoms, today known as Schneiderian First-Rank Symptoms, to differentiate it from other forms of mental disorder. He also made significant contributions to personality disorders, coining term like endogenous depression and reactive depression.
Born to an evangelical church musician, Wolfram Sievers was immensely talented in music and played several instruments in his younger days. Known as the Nazi Bluebeard for his long beard, he was a significant part of the Ahnenerbe, the think tank devoted to the ethnic cleansing in Germany.
A qualified doctor and a lung diseases specialist, Sabine Bergmann-Pohl had been the head of state of East Germany before the German reunification. She has also led the Volkskammer as its president and was the Federal Minister for Special Affairs under Helmut Kohl. The mother of two is a Protestant.
German neuroanatomist and physiologist Franz Joseph Gall was the founding father of cranioscopy, or the determination of intelligence and personality traits from the shape of a person’s skull, now known as phrenology. He was also the first to separate the gray matter of the brain from the white matter.
German neurologist, pathologist, and anatomist Carl Wernicke is best remembered for his extensive work on the various types of aphasia, or disorders that hinder the ability to speak or write. He also distinguished between motor aphasia and sensory aphasia, or what is now known as Wernicke's aphasia.
Nobel Prize-winning German pathologist and bacteriologist Gerhard Domagk is best remembered for his pathbreaking discovery of Prontosil, the first sulfonamide antibiotic. The Nazis, however, didn’t allow him to accept the Nobel Prize immediately and detained him briefly instead. He had also served as a soldier in World War I.
Nazi leader Eugen Fischer co-wrote Human Hereditary Teaching and Racial Hygiene, which became one of the definitive texts of the Nazi policies. Hitler also made him the rector of the University of Berlin. His memoir diluted his role in the mass extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust.
46 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.
47 Otto Loewi
Otto Loewi was a German-born American psycho-biologist and pharmacologist, whose research on neurology proved that chemicals were involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. Working with Sir Henry Dale, he established the role of acetylcholine as an endogenous neurotransmitter, co-winning the Nobel Prize for it. Later, he worked on diabetes and devised Loewi’s test for the detection of pancreatic disease.
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.
German psychiatrist Ernst Kretschmer believed that mental illnesses and personality traits could be linked to the types of bodies people possess. He treated hysteria patients as a military doctor in World War I. Though he opposed the Nazi regime, he stayed in Germany throughout World War II.
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.