unizeit titel

Travelling clinics

In August the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH) inaugurated important central facilities at the Kiel campus. Even with ultramodern technology in an ultramodern building, it continues a long history that is closely tied to Kiel University.

Historical photo of the main building of the Academic Sanatoriums
public domain, Kieler Stadtarchiv: Braune, Friedrich (1815-1889)
smallpox house around 1900
© UKSH, Historische Fotografien
Academic sanatoriums on Hegewischstraße around 1905
public domain, Kieler Stadtarchiv: Edlefsen, Hermann (1877-1914)

It is the story of the "Suburban Academic Hospital", which was founded in 1802 as the first university hospital, a good 150 years before the Faculty of Medicine itself was launched. It is also the history of a long period of travel – and of a late start, to begin with. Medicine as a classical field of study was indeed part of Kiel University when it was founded in 1665, but medical training at a patient's bedside was unknown in German academia until nearly the 19th century. Thanks to a private initiative by Georg-Heinrich Weber (1752–1828), this started to change in Kiel. In 1788, Weber used donated funds to buy an estate in Prüne and converted it into a private hospital. This turned out to be fortuitous in several ways. Medical students treated the city's poor free of charge, so that not only was an important step forward made in social progress, but also in academic terms, as training finally took place in treatment rooms.

"This history of the University Medical Center's space alone is extremely interesting," says Professor Michael Illert (77), who was director of the Institute of Physiology at Kiel University until his retirement. Together with Professor Bernhard Tillmann (80), the former director of the Institute for Anatomy, and the medical historian Professor Christian Andree, head of the Medical Historical Research Centre, Illert dealt copiously with the Medical Center's "years of travel".  And despite all of his personal experience, he learned a great many new things, as he emphasizes.

The three scientists decided, following the exhibition on medicine at Kiel University in honour of its 350th anniversary in 2015, to publish a substantially expanded catalogue, not least in order to document this spatial travel.

Kiel University, which had its first location in the middle of the city, behind the market, and built a new building at the castle in 1768, took over the Weber private clinic in 1802 and made it into the "Suburban Academic Hospital". The first Kiel University Medical Center was thus born, and the foundation was laid for education and research to be closely bound at the sick bed. Five years later, the first surgical clinic followed on Flämischen Straße, also the result of taking over a private hospital.

Numerous other clinics, laboratories and special facilities like the birthing institute and the pox house were established afterwards. This is documented in the catalogue in succinct but precise texts – and with illustrations. The path taken by the clinics can also be discerned. From the inner city and the suburb, they relocated more and more to Brunswik, where they moved into the newly constructed Academic Sanitoriums in 1862. The impact of this step is still evident today. Not only because many buildings are still very well preserved and are used just as they were over 150 years ago. The access to the Medical Center via Düsternbrooker Weg to the east, Schwanenweg to the north, Hospitalstraße to the west, and Brunswiker Straße to the south, was already planned at that time to include the entire Kiel UKSH.

Author: Martin Geist

The catalogue "Universitätsmedizin Kiel 350: ein Rückblick auf die Jubiläumsausstellung" (University Medicine Kiel 350: a look back at the jubilee exhibition) can be viewed at and borrowed from the University Library.

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