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Oswald Conrad Edouard Bumke

Born  1877
Died  1950

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German neurologist, born September 1877, Stolp, Pommern; died 1950.

Biography of Oswald Conrad Edouard Bumke

Oswald Conrad Eduard Bumke was Emil Kraepelin’s (1856-1926) successor in Munich. With Otfrid Foerster (1873-1941), Max Nonne (1861-1959) and Salomon Eberhard Henschen (1847-1930), he attended Lenin’s last illness, a stroke, and wrote a handbook on encephalitis.

Bumke studied in Freiburg im Breisgau, Leipzig, Halle, Munich, and Kiel, receiving his doctorate in the latter city in 1901. That year he became assistant at the psychiatric clinic in Freiburg, in 1904 Privatdozent of psychiatry and 1910 extraordinarius. In 1914 he was invited to Rostock as ordinarius, in 1916 to Breslau, 1921 to Leipzig, and was professor of the university psychiatric hospital in Munich from 1922-1945.

On May 9, 1934, Bumke wrote to the Bavarian state ministry of education, about changing the name of "psychiatric" clinic into "nerves"- clinic.

On July 25, 1933, Hitler’s government enacted a law, amended December 7, 1933, making compulsory sterilization mandatory in cases of hereditary disease, including hereditary mental disease. The law defined hereditary disease as including: congenital mental deficiency, schizophrenia, manic-depressive insanity, hereditary epilepsy, Huntington's Chorea, hereditary blindness, hereditary deafness, and severe hereditary physical malformation. In severe alcoholism sterilization was at the discretion of the "courts of hereditary health"

In a publication about guidelines for abortion and sterilisation, 1936, Bumke explains, that he can't find any reason for abortion in or sterilisation of psychiatric patients

Professor Bumke stated on 7 June 1945 that he and many other psychiatrists, with the sole exception of the Nazi hotheads among the psychiatrists, never really cooperated with the sterilization law. "The incidence of schizophrenia had greatly diminished in Germany, because we no longer made that diagnosis. Instead, we invented the "schizoid reaction", which did not call for sterilization. Similarly, we made the diagnosis "reactive depression" instead of "manic depressive insanity". We have sabotaged the law. Finally, sterilization fell gradually into disuse even officially, especially since 1943".

With Otfrid Foerster Bumke was the publisher of the supplementary volume to Handbuch der Neurologie, and the Handbuch der Geisteskrankheiten.

We thank Detlef Rosenow, MD, for information submitted.


  • Die Pupillenstörungen bei Geistes- und Nervenkrankheiten.
    Jena, 1904; 2nd edition, 1911.
  • Landläufige Irrtümer in der Beurteilung von Geisteskrankheiten. Grenzfragen Nerv u. Seelenleb; Wiesbaden, 1908.
  • Die Störungen des sympathischen Systems.
    In: Oswald Bumke and Otfrid Foerster: Handbuch der Neurologie, volume 1. 2. Berlin, 1910.
  • Die exogenen Vergiftungen des nervensystems.
    In: Oswald Bumke, and Otfrid Foerster: Handbuch der Neurologie, volume 3. Berlin, 1912.
  • Über nervöse Entartung. Berlin, 1912.
  • Die Diagnose der Geisteskrankheiten. Wiesbaden 1919.
    3rd edition 1929: Lehrbuch der Geisteskrankheiten.
  • Psychologische Vorlesungen. Munich, 1919; 2nd edition, 1923.
  • Kultur und Entartung. Berlin, 1921; 2nd edition, 1922.
  • Das Unbewusstsein. Berlin, 1922; 2nd edition, 1926.
  • Kriegsneurosen. Allgemeine Ergebnisse.
    Handbuch der Neurologie, supplementary volume 1. Berlin, 1923-1924.
  • Ziele, Wege und Grenzen der psychiatrischen Forschung.
    Handbuch der Geisteskrankheiten. Volume i, Berlin, 1928.
  • Die gegenwärtigen Strömungen in der Psychiatrie. Fünf Vorlesungen. Berlin, 1928.
  • An den Grenzen der Psychiatrie. Berlin, 1929. 86 pages.
  • Die Psychoanalyse. Berlin, 1931.
  • Erinnerungen und Betrachtungen. Der Weg eines deutschen Psychiaters.
    München, 1952.
    Written while he was relieved of his job between 1945 and 1947.
    English tranlsation: Memories and examinations. The way of a German psychiatrist.
We thank Rudolf Kleinert, Bad Reichenhall, Germany, for information submitted.

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