Biography of Walter Stoeckel
Walter Stoeckel was among the outstanding professors at the Berlin Charité, where he held the chair of gynaecology for a quarter of a century and brought it world fame.As a young man he wished for a career with horses and equestrian sports, and he also considered veterinary medicine, before he decided for medicine. He spent his preclinical study in Leipzig, München and Jena, and then moved on to the Albertus-Universität in Königsberg, East Prussia, where he graduated in 1895. He subsequently worked as a voluntary in the military, ship’s doctor with Norddeutscher Lloyd, and from 1897 as assistant physician at various university clinics. He worked with Felix Jacob Marchand (1846-1928) in Marburg, with Viertel in Breslau, and then in Bonn under Heinrich Fritsch (1844–), whose daughter Anna Maria he married on December 29, 1900. He subsequently worked in Erlangen with Johann Veit (1852-1917), and from 1904 to 1907 in the women’s clinic at the Charité under Ernst Bumm (1848–1925). He was habilitated for obstetrics and gynaecology at Erlangen in 1903, and in 1904 at Berlin, becoming professor extraordinary in 1905.
In 1907, aged 36, Stoeckel left Berlin to assume the chair in Marburg, moving on to the same tenure in Kiel in 1910, and Leipzig in 1921. Eventually, in 1926, he was appointed to the most important German chair of gynaecology, at the Berlin Charité. Under his leadership extensive rebuilding were undertaken, creating a modern women’s clinic.
Stoeckel was never a member of the National Socialist Party, but he seems to have been sympathetic to the Nazi regime and showed little solidarity with Jewish colleagues. Among them was Bernhard Zondek (1891–1966), who was dismissed after Hitler came to power in 1933. However, Stoeckel protected Robert Meyer (1864–1947), who was thus able to work in the Charité until 1939. He delivered Magda Goebbels, wife of the minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels (1897–1945), in one of her six childbirths.
According to plan, Stoeckel should have been emerited in 1936, but this was postponed for three years on Hitler's orders, and then forgotten until the end of the Nazi regime.
During the end phase of the war conditions at the women's clinic became extremely difficult, and in February 1943 the building was destroyed by Allied bombers. Stoeckel then continued his operations in the bunker of the clinic, even after the eight of May, 1945. After the war Stoeckel participated in the rebuilding of the clinic.
Stoeckel was a prominent member of the Gesellschaft für Geburtshülfe und Gynäkologie zu Berlin, founded 1844, of which he was president from 1933 to 1935. In 1947 the society was refounded, now under the name Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft für Geburtshilfe und Gynäkologie bei der Universität Berlin. Stoeckel headed the society until 1950.
Stoeckel was the publisher of Zentralblatt für Gynäkologie for 48 years, and for 34 years publisher of Zeitschrift für Geburtshilfe und Gynäkologie.
- "The Chair is well reputed, but the clinic is the smallest and most poorly equipped, and the one in which one had the smallest private income."
On the women's clinic in Marburg.
"The clinic gives the impression of a dreamlike fairy tale castle falling asleep. In the interior it was no real clinic, but an old style delivery hospital . . . the pace was lento adagio. No trace of discipline, and don't mention SCHWUNG – the workflow was like that of a seeping, owergrown drainage ditch"
On the women's clinic in Marburg.