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Portrait of the physician Erich Hoffmann from the Bonn University Archives

Thursday, 01.06.2023

ZB MED publishes Hoffmann Collection - Private library of the (co-)discoverer of the syphilis pathogen is available online as a digital collection

ZB MED - Information Centre for Life Sciences has digitised the extensive private library of the Bonn physician Erich Hoffmann (1868-1959). It includes numerous works on dermatology, the history of medicine and the theory of infections. Among them are many copies that were given to him as dedication copies by scientist friends. All digital copies are thoroughly indexed in terms of content. The full texts are fully searchable and can be downloaded as PDFs.

Hoffmann became known in 1905 through the discovery of Spirochaeta pallida as the cause of syphilis together with Fritz Schaudinn (1871-1906) at the Berlin Charité. In 1908 he became professor in Halle and finally moved to Bonn in 1910, where he was head of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Skin Diseases from 1918. Although he held German nationalist views, he was dismissed from the civil service in 1934 because of his distance from the Nazi regime. In a lecture he had said: "A Jew in a white coat is better to me than a Nazi in a brown skirt" - a statement that is characteristic of his character and attitude. After 1945, Erich Hoffmann returned to Bonn and was awarded the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1953. In 1978, a street in Bonn-Endenich was also named after him.

His residence in Bonn's Baumschulallee is now home to the Erich-Hoffmann-Gesellschaft e.V., which in 1978 gave Hoffmann's extensive library of more than 1,400 titles to ZB MED on permanent loan. Through digitisation, ZB MED is now making the scientist's former private library visible and usable again. The society named after Hoffmann not only administers his former home, but also promotes scientific cooperation among nations, especially in the field of dermatological research and continuing medical education. It also sees help for students and popular education as its mission.


Further links:

to the Hoffmann Digital Collection 
more information about Erich Hoffmann (in German)

Read the full press release (in German)