American Journal of Medical Genetics 43:737-739 (1992)

Hans-Rudolf Wiedemann: An Appreciation John M. Opitz and Pierce Mullen Shodair Hospital, Helena (J.M.O.), Department of History and Philosophy, Montana State University (J.M.O., P.M.), Bozeman, Montana, and the Universities of WashingtonlSeattle and WisconsinlMadison (J.M.O.) Daher lasst uns das asthetische Urtheil frey und erhebt und begeistert uns, weil wir uns schon durch das blosse Vermogen, absolut z u wollen, schon durch die blosse A d a g e zur Moralitat gegen die Sinnlichkeit in augenscheinlichem Vortheil befinden.

So aesthetic judgement frees us, and elevates and inspires us because we find ourselves in an apparent advantage over the realm of the senses through the power to will absolutely and in our moral nature itself. (F’riedrich Schiller, The National Edition, Nationalausgabe, NA 21-216) Hans-Rudolf Wiedemann provides us with a living link t o that glorious tradition in medicine which combined biology and humanism in tranquil harmony. A veteran of 40 years of clinical work, Dr. Wiedemann served 20 years as Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Kiel. Now as emeritus professor he can look forward to pursuing with his accustomed enthusiasm his real avocations of clinical genetics and humanistic studies. In his life’s work he has developed the moral dimensions of his own interests so that we are all enriched by them. A century ago, at least in Europe, all physicians could be expected to be biologists and humanists in the broadest and best sense of the words. Osler and Cushing represented these traditions and ideals in America into the present century. It may be objected that one cannot do or be both without shallowness; the answer to that can only be that medicine and biology not a full part of the humanistic perspective is not worth pursuing and, indeed, may be a menace t o patients. How refreshing it is then to turn to the life and work of Hans Wiedemann who was (and still is)not only a giant in clinicallpediatric genetics, but also a true humanist with a classical education, a strong interest in history, and lifelong personal involvement in literature, music, and the other arts. These interests and activities are reflected not only in his professional writings (e.g., the wonderful series on the Pioneers of Pediatric Medicine published monthly in the European Journal of Pediatrics) but also in scholarly papers, e.g., on Goethe’s comments on the practice of medicine, the portrayal of

Fig. 1. Hans-Rudolf Wiedemann in 1989.

the child in paintings, a “Figaro” as stimulus for Mozart creations, the recollections of Thomas Mann’s motherin-law, the writings of Jeremias Gotthelf on children, the Kiel physiciadfaculty member Christoph Heinrich Pfaff and his relationship with Alessandro Volta and confrontation with Goethe’s teachings on color, a painting of the Madonna by Antonello da Messina discovered on a recent trip to Sicily, and so forth. All of us in the field of clinical genetics have not only appreciated Hans Wiedemann’swork on the WiedemannBeckwith syndrome (now a renewed focus of intense interest because of possible imprinting of the candidate IGF-2 gene), the Proteus syndrome, the progeroid disorders (including the recent discovery of the WiedemannLaxova-Petty syndrome), the thalidomide syndrome, skeletal dysplasias (e.g., metatropic dwarfism, SED congenita Spranger-Wiedemann), the Kleeblattschadel “syndrome” (or rather sequence), the storage diseases (lipomucopolysaccharidosis), cyclopia, diploidtriploid mosaicism, abnormalities of sex determination and sex differentiation, other MCA syndromes such as the Genee-Wiedemann form of acrofacial dysostosis, but also Received for publication September 10, 1991; revision received his efforts in cataloging these conditions into a most November 18, 1991. Address reprint requests to John M. Opitz, M.D., Shodair Hospi- useful atlas first published in German in 1976, now in its third edition with translations into Italian, Spanish, tal, PO Box 5539, Helena, MT 59604.

0 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


Opitz and Mullen

Portuguese, and English, and reviewed enthusiastically as his last publication by the late Hans Zellweger. Few of us are aware of Hans Wiedemann’s astounding productivity in the humanities and in a unique genre of literature, namely the transliterationftranslation with historical and other scholarly comments of his large collection of autographs, which have, per force, also made Wiedemann a great expert on handwriting analysis. First, in 1982, there was the volume on letters by important persons written in their old age (Altersbriefe bedeutender Menschen). This, almost 400 page, beautifully produced book contains 67 autographs by 61 authors including von Baer, Blumenbach, Carus, Einstein, Frederick the Great, Francis Galton, Andre Gide, Gluck, Goethe, Otto Hahn, Alexander von Humboldt, JanaEek (who played the organ at Mendel’s funeral), Leibniz, Liszt, John Locke, Erich Tschermak, Voltaire, and George Washington. The erudition and learning evident in the historical analysis and scholarly comments bespeak not only a great love of the humanities but suggest strongly that these are not recently acquired enthusiasms but a life-long love of the subject. In the same year Wiedemann published a monograph on his important collection of autographs of German poets; the next year a similar volume of letters on, by, and about children with an extraordinary epilogue by Theodor Wilhelm of Kiel best known (together with Reinhold Niebuhr) for his popularization of the “serenity prayer” based on the stoic philosophy of Epictetus. Wiedemann’s fourth venture in the field did not appear until 4 years later (1987);it dealt with 250 poems published over 3 centuries and accompanied by biographic information on and a portrait of the authors. This book was dedicated, again, to his family, including Gisela, his beloved wife of almost 50 years and their 6 children and 14 grandchildren who are their pride and joy. Of greatest interest to physicians and scientists must be Wiedemann’s fifth volume in this “series” on the autographs by the great scientists and physicians dating from 1629 to present times and including 83 letters a.0. by Abbe, von Behring, Bunsen, Kepler, Moro, CG Jung, Schweitzer, Gauss, Heisenberg, Koch, von Liebig, Lise Meitner, Rontgen, Virchow, Pauli, Butenandt, Godel, Reichstein, Domagk, and Szent-Gyorgyi. This volume is dedicated to the memory of his revered teacher Otto Ullrich (1894-1957) who kindled Wiedemann’s initial interest in clinical genetics into the productive enthusiasm it remains to this day. The volume we love most is the one on the great composers and performers including some extraordinary pieces by Corelli, Bach (and son CPE), Handel, Gluck, Mozart (p8re et fils), Haydn, Beethoven, Verdi, Liszt, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Chopin (who retained a deep trust in the pediatrician Jean Jacques Molin and to whom he wrote the moving lines: “Cher docteur, Ayez la bontk de venir me voir aujourd’hui-Je souffre, Notre devoirs Chopin”),Rossini, Donizetti, Schubert, Brahms, Bizet, Tchaikowsky, DvoEak, and many others. We suspect that several other volumes (on documents dealing with politics, pedagogy, historiography and archeology, philology, mathematics, and philosophy) will

appear; however, in the meantime we have learned on hand of two volumes of poetry, Lungs des Wegs (1988) andAuf dem Abendfeld (19901,that Wiedemann has yet another life as a master of style, metaphor, and sensitive expression in many moving and beautifully crafted poems. In his Living History-Biography, Hans Wiedemann speaks of his physician father and the great influence he had on his son during his formative and later years, and alludes to a small monograph he published (1988) on the correspondence with his father over the period 1933-1967. This deeply moving document speaks eloquently of the dignity and self-respect that is and was maintained by father and son under the most adverse of circumstances. “Having a most active interest in politics, my father had scrutinized Adolf Hitler’s pamphlets long before 1933. He was quite horrified by what he read, and his clearsightedness and strong feelings of apprehension made a tremendous impression on me and caused me to reject the Nazi Party a t a very early stage. After the Nazis had come to power, my father demonstrated extraordinary courage throughout the regime by helping those in danger, particularly his Jewish colleagues and Jewish patients.” One of the survivors was the nonarian Dr. Fritz Spangenthal and his family. Hans-Rudolffully shared his father’s aversion to that inhuman regime of terror. Again a line from Schiller comes to mind: “Wie schonzupflanzen, was ein lieber Sohn erntet (Act 11,Don Carlos)-How sweet to plant what a beloved son shall reap.” These deep convictions and moral views were summarized eloquently by Hans Wiedemann in a public lecture he gave to the students and faculty of the Kiel medical school in the winter semester of 1990/1991 entitled Medizin im Nazionalsozialisms, required reading for all who want an individual story rather than the broad picture, which tends to obscure the worst and the best of details. Clinical genetics owes Hans-Rudolf Wiedemann (and Otto Ullrich‘s widow Dr. med. Eveline Ullrich-Ayrer) the establishment of the Otto Ullrich Medal and Award for excellence in Clinical Genetics (Am J Med Genet 41:125,1991), a tribute t o his great teacher who was one of the founders of modern clinical genetics. This also honors a historical tradition of pediatric genetics which began with Ullrich’s teacher von Pfaundler in Munich after the first world war and which has been transmitted faithfully to the several Wiedemann students who occupy chairs of pediatrics in Germany, most conspicuously Jurgen Spranger who has engendered a whole school of his own since becoming Chairman at the Johannes Gutenberg Universitat in Mainz. It must be remembered that Hans Wiedemann’s expertise in clinical genetics was honed while functioning, before retirement, as all-round pediatrician, neuropediatrician, and administrator, and that many, if not most of his over 350 papers were produced over 40 years of stressful circumstances after the second world war, at night, on weekends, and holidays, during 15 moves with his growing family, the protracted construction of the new Children’s Hospital in Kiel, rarely with the leisure now accepted as

Wiedemann Appreciation a norm by his successors. The bibliography of 185 items appended to his Living History-Bio~aphyrepresents Only Of Hans Wiedemann’s even the more complete version available to us omits those items in Die medizinische Welt which became entries in his Atlas. As with Klein, Zellweger, Koch, Becker, and many other Swiss and German geneticists, neurology was a compelling way into genetics and in Wiedemann’s case occupied such an important part of his professional life as to lead to the establishment of the journal Neuropediatrics and Wiedemann’s into the German Society of Neuropediatrics. The important historical role played by Wiedemann in the restoration of German postwar professional genetics remains to be fully appreciated; suffice it to say that when Wiedemann succeeded Kretschmer as President Of the German Society for Constitutional Research in 1965 meeting in fieiburg i.Br. he was able, at a (at which Jurgen Spranger gave a brilliant first Congress paper on skeletal dysplasias), to preside over the fusion of this Society with the Society for Anthropology into the ‘‘Society for Anthropology and Human Genetics,,-two inseparable disciplines. Respect for that precedent made Wiedemann to encourage schismatic moves by clinical geneticists; nevertheless the first symposium on Clinical Genetics in Pediatrics was held in 1978 in Kiel and was such a resounding Successthat it led to a repeat in Main2 in 1979 under the direction of Jiirgen Spranger. This has since become a regular and most effective forum for German-speaking pediatricklinical geneticists. Wiedemann’s deep interest in teratology stems from the earliest days of the thalidomide epidemic and led to his membership in the Teratology Commission of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and its program on pregnancy and development. As its editor for over 20 years Hans Wiedemann also was responsible for the startling transformation of the former Zeitschrift f u r Kinderheilkunde, the oldest continuously published pediatric journal, into the European Journal ofPediatrics, now edited totally in English by Jiirgen Spranger and incorporating the Acta Paediatrica Belgica and the former Helvetica Paediatrica Actu; Wiedemann remains on its editorial board. It is a pleasure to record that such a life of work and devotion in pediatrics and clinical genetics has been recognized by 8 honorary (6 foreign) and 5 corresponding (4 foreign) memberships in many pediatric societies, by two honorary doctorates (Palermo, Pecs), the Theresian medal of the University of Pavia, the Ernst von Bergmann medal, the Heubner Prize and Medal of the German Society of Pediatrics, and above all election, in 1969, to membership in the German Academy of Scientists and Physicians Leopoldina in Halle. The motto of the latter (Nunquam otiosus) is the best way to characterize the life and work of our friend, teacher, and distinguished colleague in pediatrics, genetics, and the humanities, Hans-Rudolf Wiedemann.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We are mostgrateful to LaVelle M. Spanofor expert secretarial collaboration; preparation of this MS was supported by a grant from the Montana Department of Health and Environmental Sciences under HB696. REFERENCES Wiedemann HR, Dibbern H (1978): “Das Kind im Bild.” Braunschweiger Verlagsanstalt, 70 pp, Wiedemann HR, Lasson U (1979): Griinder der Kinderheilkunde. In: Hellbrugge T h (ed): “Griinder and Grundlagen der Kinderheilkunde.” Documenta Paediatrica. Lubeck, Hansisches Verlagskontor, PP Wiedemann HR (1982): Anerkennende Ausserungen bei Goethe zur Kinderheilkunde. Der Kinderarzt 13:1905. Wiedemann HR (1982):“Deutsche Gedichte in Handschriften.” Essen: Nobel Verlag, 246 pp, Wiedemann HR (1983):‘‘Kinder.’’Lube&: Hansisches Verlagskontor, 160 pp. Wiedemann HR (1984):Das Bild des Kindes in der Malerei. Der Kinderarzt 15:439-449. Wiedemann HR (1984):“Altersbriefe bedeutender Menschen in Handschrift und Druck.” Liibeck Hansisches Verlagskontor, 408 pp. 2nd edition in 1986. Wiedemann HR (1984):Ein “Figaro” als Fijrderer Mozartscher Schijpfungen, in: ‘‘Festschrift fur Albi bsenthal/London,” Verlag Schneideri‘htzing, pp 291-294. Wiedemann HR (1985): “Thomas Mann’s Schwiegermutter erzahlt.” Liibeck: .--Werkstatten-Verlag, 58 pp. 2nd edition 1986; 3rd edition 1YW.

Koch F, Wiedemann HR (1986):Die Tragik der Hamophilie. Der Kinderarzt 17:1801-1806. Wiedemann HR (1986):Der Kieler Pfaff, die Farbenlehre und Goethe. Euphorion 80:439-447. Wiedemann HR (1986):Alexander Volta und Christoph Heinrich Pfaff. Christiana Albertina 23 (NF):25-34. Wiedemann HFt (1986):Ein bisher unbekannt gebliebener Goethebrief. Jahrbuch des Freien Deutschen Hochstifts 1986:118-129. Wiedemann HR (1987): “Zweihundertfiinfzig Gedichte aus drei Jahrhunderten in Handschriften und Textabdruck mit Portrats der Autoren.” Liibeck: Hansisches Verlagskontor, 489 pp. Wiedemann HR (1987):Asmus Julius Thomas Thomsen (1815-1896). Biographisches Lexikon fur Schleswig-Holstein, Vol8, WachholtzVerlag. Wiedemann HR (1988):“Langs des Wegs (Poems).”Liibeck: Graphische Werkstatten, 48 pp. Wiedemann HR (1988): “Briefe im Hitlerreich.” Liibeck: Graphische Werkstatten, 52 pp. 2nd edition 1989. Wiedemann HR (1988):Jeremias Gotthelf uber Kinder. Der Kinderarzt 19:1549. Wiedemann HR (1989): Das Kind in der Malerei. Leopoldina 33:201-203. Kiimmell W, Wiedemann HR (1989): Die Handschrift-Essenz der Personlichkeit? Physis 11:44-58. Wiedemann HR (1989):“Briefe grosser Naturforscher und Arzte.” Liibeck: Graphische Werkstatten, 456 pp. Wiedemann HR (1990):“Auf dem Abendfeld (Poems).”Lubeck: Graphische Werkstatten, 59 pp. Wiedemann HR (1990): “Briefe und Albumblatter grosser Komponisten und Interpreten in Handschriften, mit Textabdruck und Portrats der Autoren.” Liibeck: Verlag Graphische Werkstatten. 427 pp.

Hans-Rudolf Wiedemann: an appreciation.

American Journal of Medical Genetics 43:737-739 (1992) Hans-Rudolf Wiedemann: An Appreciation John M. Opitz and Pierce Mullen Shodair Hospital, Helen...
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