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Life in Germany: Prof. Dr. Holthusen


On 16 September 1937, Hamburg newspapers published a report under the headline, “America honours a German scientist,” reporting that Prof. Dr. Hermann Holthusen (1886–1971) had been elected president of the International Congress of Radiology. This newspaper clipping was found in Holthusen’s personal file, accompanied by reports on a series of additional honours that he received from the USA as well as many European countries over a long period of time. Prof. Dr. Holthusen was a renowned radiologist, and not just in Nazi Germany; in 1942, he was invited to occupied Belgium to speak about “radiological therapy against cancer in large hospitals.” His election as an honorary member of the American College of Radiology documents his status as an internationally accepted member of the scientific community for radiology and research. Prof. Holthusen shared this fact with the Dean of the Medical Faculty in Hamburg on 11 November 1939, who then spoke with the Reich Ministry of Education to allow Holthusen to receive this honour.


Unlike Rudolf Grashey and Boris Rajewsky, who both became National Socialist Party members in 1937, Hermann Holthusen never joined the Party; nevertheless, the National Socialist Party considered him to be ‘loyal.’ As we know from a questionnaire filled out by Holthusen after the war, he was involved in several “associated organisations” of the National Socialist Party: the “National Socialist People’s Welfare”, the “German Labour Front,” the “Reich Teachers’ League,” the “National Socialist-German Reich Veterans’ League,” and the “National Socialist League of Alumni.”


The discovery of these numerous memberships, along with his contribution to Hitler’s “birthday volume,” creates an ambivalent impression of Holthusen. His professional expertise was beyond question, as was emphasised after 1945, when the Western Allies included him as a “Senior Author” on the FIAT Review of German Science on the subject of “radiology, diagnostics and therapy”
(= Naturforschung und Medizin in Deutschland 1939-1946, Wiesbaden 1947).


In addition to numerous important, pioneering publications on research and practice, Prof. Holthusen also contributed an article on “radiological research” to an official commemorative volume published by the National Socialist Ministry of Science in 1939 to mark Adolf Hitler’s 50th birthday. Holthusen is not the only distinguished scientist whose name adorns this volume, and the short article is simple and objective.


Holthusen, Hermann

(photo from the German Museum of Radiology)

Holthusen, Hermann (ed.): Radiologie, Diagnostik und Therapie (= Naturforschung und Medizin in Deutschland 1939-1946. German edition of the FIAT Review of German Science, Vol. 84), Wiesbaden 1947

National Socialist Party to Hamburg state administration. Political evaluation of Prof. Holthusen dated 11 Dec 1939 (HHStA, 113-5_BV92bUA49)

Reich Ministry of Education, dated 18 Dec 1939, allowing Holthusen to accept his honorary membership in the American College of Radiation

(HHStA, 361-6_IV1307 (37))

State Commissioner for Denazification: Prof. Holthusen is politically unobjectionable.

(HHStA, 361-6_IV1307 (44))

Holthusen dated 5 April 1937 to the Dean of the Medical Faculty (participation in International Congress of Radiology Chicago) (HHStA, 361-6_IV1307 (55 / (Back side) DRG and Congress headquarters solve currency problem, research trip (HHStA, 361-6_IV1307(56))

Excerpt from Hamburg newspaper dated 16 Sept 1937: “America honours a German scientist” (HHStA, 361-6_IV1307 (57))

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