Biography of Heinrich Laehr
Studying in Berlin and Halle, Heinrich Laehr was assistant physician at the hospital of the Frankeschen Stiftungen and at the surgical clinic of Ernst Blasius (1802-1875) in Halle. He received his doctorate at the University of Halle in 1843. Five years later, in 1848, he became assistant physician in the Provinzial-Irrenanstalt (district lunatic asylum) near Halle under Heinrich Philipp August Damerow (1798-1866). From 1850 he was 2nd physician at this institution.
In 1853 Laehr founded and from that time headed Schweizerhof, an asylum for «weibliche Nerven- und Gemüthskranke» (asylum for women with diseases of the mood and nerves) at Zehlendorf, a district of Berlin, where a road is named for him (Laeher’scher Jagdweg). This was the first such institution in Berlin headed by a physician and, despite many obstacles, was continually expanded until his death in 1905. In 1889 he had entrusted his eldest son Hans (1856-1929) with the medical directorship of the clinic. In 1898, on the same ground, he established the first «Heilstätte» for indigenous patients with nervous diseases, Haus Schönow, headed by his youngest son Max (born 1865).
From 1885 Laehr was editor-in-chief of the Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie und psychisch-gerichtliche Medicin, in which he published a large part of his papers. He was Referent on psychiatry in [Cannstatt’s] Jahresbericht über die Leistungen und Fortschritte der gesammten Medicin (Berlin), was co-founder and member of the board of Verein der deutschen Irrenärzte from 1864, and co-founder and chairman of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychiatrie in Berlin 1867-1898, 1872 co-founder of the Hilfsverein für entlassene Geisteskranke der Provinz Brandenburg.
As a medical expert he participated in the building of public mental asylums at Lengerich in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Berlin, Eberswalde, Owinsk, Grafenberg, Bonn, Düren, Andernach, Merzig, the Idiotenanstalt at Schwerin, the Wilhelmstift, and the institution for epileptics in Potsdam. In 1895 he became assistant - Hilfsarbeiter - in the scientific deputation in the ministry of culture, deputy chairman of the 3rd. session of the Ärztekammer der Provinz Brandenburg and the Stadtkreis Berlin, in 1899 co-founder of the 1st new building of a Trinkerheilanstalt at Fürstenwald. This institution has later been greatly expanded and is ready for you.
Laehr held the title of Geheimer Sanitätsrath (privy health counsellor).