Helmut Weese - an attempt at an appreciation
of his importance for German-language anesthesia

Goerig M, Schulte am Esch J.
Abteilung fur Anasthesiologie,
Universitats-Krankenhaus Eppendorf, Hamburg.
Anasthesiol Intensivmed Notfallmed Schmerzther. 1997 Nov;32(11):678-85


In addition to the two surgeons Hans Killian and Helmut Schmidt the pharmacologist Hellmut Weese was elected honorary member of the German Association of Anaesthesiology at the organisation's founding congress in 1953. Especially the younger colleagues are quite unfamiliar with his name, although a "Hellmut Weese commemorative" lecture is annually held at our national association's gathering. While it is widely known that his name is intimately connected with the introduction of evipan anaesthesia during the early thirties, only few people know about his extensive research on the therapy of shock that lead to the development of the plasma-expanding substance "Periston"". Moreover, his pharmacological investigations on sympathomimetic amines and long-term studies on cardiac glycosides which he published in a well recognised monograph in 1936 have fallen into oblivion. Since he had not collaborated with Nazi regime he was able to start teaching at the University of Cologne again in the fall of 1945. One year later he became head of the Department of Pharmacology at the Medical Academy of Dusseldorf. There he started--together with colleagues of similar ideas and opinions--holding lectures on clinical anaesthesia at the beginning of the winter term 1948/49. People who attended his lectures later claimed that these were the "best lesson ever". At the same time the call for specialists for anaesthesiology that was commonly heard in Anglo-American countries could not be ignored in Germany any longer. Weese, who was already an honorary member of the International Anesthesia Research Society at the Association's congress in New York in 1938, realised the lack of trained physicians. Thus he fought enthusiastically for the idea of producing specialists and as a member of a committee for questions concerning anaesthesia played in important part in founding the "Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Anasthesiologie". He lived to see the association's name being changed to "Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Anaesthesiologie" in 1953 but died before the textbook of anaesthesia (Die Narkose) he had written together with Hans Killian was published in 1954. The following text reports on Weese's medical career and on some of his most important contributions to the knowledge of anaesthesia.
Otto Kappeler
William Morton
John Collins Warren
Chloroform sniffing
Obstetric anaesthesia
Molecular mechanisms
Barbiturate anaesthesia
Crawford Williamson Long
Anaesthesia in German-speaking regions
First use of anaesthetics in different countries

and further reading

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BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Good Drug Guide
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World