Transparency: Honorary doctorates
The Faculty of Medicine at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and its predecessor institutions have been awarding honorary doctorates for outstanding scientific achievements or exceptional services to the faculty or medical science since their existence (1907).
In a scientific project of the Institute for History, Theory and Ethics of Medicine, under the project management of Institute Director Prof. Dr. Heiner Fangerau, edited by Timo Baumann, all honorary doctorates at the former Medical Academy or today's University of Düsseldorf, founded in 1965, were also examined. The aim of the project is to provide biographical sketches of the persons honoured, taking into account a possible National Socialist past.
Honorary doctorate for Udo Klausa, first director of the Landschaftsverbands Rheinland (Rhineland Regional Council)
Düsseldorf, 31.01.2019 - The Faculty of Medicine at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and its predecessor institutions have been awarding honorary doctorates for outstanding scientific achievements or exceptional services to the faculty or medical science since their inception.
In 1964, the former Medical Academy awarded an honorary doctorate to Udo Klausa, at that time Director of the LVR. The justification for this honour cited his services to the modernisation of facilities for the treatment of mentally and physically handicapped children and to the Medical Academy, namely his commitment to creating the best working opportunities in the field of psychiatry with regard to patient care, research and teaching.
Klausa's involvement in the National Socialist state during the Second World War, when he worked as a senior administrative official in annexed Upper Silesia, among other places, is now reason for the Faculty of Medicine to explicitly distance itself from this honorary doctorate. This was unanimously decided by the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Medicine on 31 January 2019. Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf supports this decision of the Faculty of Medicine and agrees with the content of the Faculty's opinion on this honorary doctorate.
In light of the findings of the 2016 publication by Uwe Kaminsky and Thomas Roth (cf. Kaminsky / Roth: Verwaltungsdienst, Gesellschaftspolitik und Vergangenheitsbewältigung nach 1945 - Udo Klausa, Direktor des Landschaftsverbandes Rheinland 1954 - 1975, Berlin 2016) as well as other publications (Fulbrook, Mary, 2012), the Faculty felt that Klausa's honorary doctorate had to be reassessed, which led to the Faculty Council's decision to distance itself from it. Kaminsky/Roth had investigated Klausa's role as a senior official of the Nazi regime of injustice in Poland.
The Faculty also decided to provide the decision of the former Medical Academy, which is questionable from today's perspective, with an evaluation based on today's scientific knowledge and to document this publicly. Furthermore, it has commissioned its Institute for the History, Theory and Ethics of Medicine to scientifically process the honours of the Faculty and its predecessor institutions. In this way, the Faculty of Medicine of the HHU seeks to acknowledge its history.