- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Hans Grebe

Born  1913

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German internist and human geneticist, born August 25, 1913.

Biography of Hans Grebe

Hans Grebe enjoyed sporting activities and outdoor life and is considered the founder of sports medicine. He studied medicine and physical culture at the universities of Berlin and Frankfurt, graduating in 1937. During World War II he won the Iron Cross, 1st class for his service as a medical officer, but left the military in 1942 to become director of Human Genetics at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Genetics and Eugenics in Berlin.

This was not the finest hour of German inheritance research, nor for Hans Grebe, who was a propagandist of the Nazi racial doctrines. He was a pupil of the racial hygienist Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer 1896-1969), director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Erbbiologie und Rassenhygiene. Verschuer promoted the experiments on children conducted by his doctoral candidate, Josef Mengele (1911-1979), who had joined his staff uin 1937 and later worked as a SS doctor in Birkenau, a supplementary extermination camp near Auschwitz, from 1943. After the war Verschuer shipped out two truckloads of documents from his research institute in Berlin, taking care to destroy all of his correspondence with Mengele.

Before the advent of Auschwitz-Birkenau Josef Mengele strived to distinguish himself as a scientific researcher and to advance the perfection of the German race. However ambitious Mengele may have been in this regard, his academic passion revealed little to nothing of the murderous zeal that was to one day result from it.

Hans Grebe, who was a university colleague of Mengele, stated that "There was nothing in his personality to suggest that he would do what he did"

After the war Grebe settled in private practice in Frankenberg, Eder. In 1953 he obtained a teaching appointment at the University of Marburg, which he held until 1973. He was a prodigious author and wrote more than 350 medical articles, together with 3 monographs and 15 textbooks. He was also a founding member of the German Olympic Society himself a fine athlete. At the age of 51 years he won a triathlon championship in Frankenberg.

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An eponym is a word derived from the name of a person, whether real or fictional. A medical eponym is thus any word related to medicine, whose name is derived from a person.

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