The history of Charité, Berlin’s oldest hospital, spans both the promise and betrayal of medical science – find out more on this tour.
The history of Charité stretches back to its humble beginnings as a pest house in 1710, when the bubonic plague was approaching Berlin. In the early days of the hospital, methods such as bloodletting, doses of quicksilver and amputations were common in treating the sick.
A stroll around the campus will take us to where the Nobel Prize winning microbiologist, Robert Koch discovered the causes of tuberculosis, anthrax and cholera as the Charité became one of the hotspots of scientific thinking in the 19th century. But it wasn’t just achievements in science that took place here – when the Kingdom of Prussia finally allowed women to study medicine, Rahel Hirsch became the first professor in medicine at the Charité Medical School.
The hospital also witnessed the dark times of the Nazi regime. Medical ethics were disregarded and Nazi ideas of racial hygiene were ruthlessly imposed. While some doctors kept quiet and conformed, others organised the extermination of psychiatric patients. In subsequent decades, East Germany prided itself on the achievements of the Charité, while bricking up those windows that faced towards the capitalist West. This tour opens up a world of exciting discovery and historical tragedy, taking you to the heart of medicine’s struggles in the modern age.
Berlin Charité: 300 Years in Sickness and Health starts by the Robert Koch monument in Robert-Koch-Platz