Fortschritte der Neurologie-Psychiatrie

[Intermixture of politics and science in the GDR. The investigation of deaths at the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry at Leipzig University under Müller-Hegemann in 1963].

PMID 21347994


This study presents archival sources that shed light on a topic still being discussed by psychiatrists in East Germany: the death of two patients at the Leipzig Department that occurred in 1960 and 1962 under the directorship of Dietfried Müller-Hegemann. These fatalities were supposed to have been induced by obsolete psychotropic drugs and were associated with Ivan Pavlov's hypnotherapy. The incidents were investigated both by highest administrative bodies and the General State Prosecutor of the former GDR. Archival sources suggest that lower party organs and the ministerial administration tried to make use of the proceedings to bring about the downfall of the head of the Leipzig Department, who had become ideologically suspicious. However, the official General State Prosecutor's investigation ascertained that both Müller-Hegemann and Christa Kohler, head of the psychotherapeutic ward, were not to be held responsible. Although the SED Central Committee at first tried to influence the outcome on the basis of ideological reservations made by the university party organisation, it finally accepted and confirmed the judgment of the General State Prosecutor. Hence, in this case, the highest party bodies followed arguments that were the result of an independent investigation and were not influenced by an individual bias or ideological motives.