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Anna Fischer-Dückelmann
Naturärztin, Publizistin, Aufklärerin  (1856-1917)

Die Frau als Hausärztin
Alternative medicine and reform strategies made Anna Fischer-Dückelmann a most controversial, notorious, and widely read women doctor before World War I, Paulette Meyer, english

Anna Fischer-Dückelmann kam 1913 auf den Monte Verità, erwarb dort Grundstück und Haus. Sie war die bekannteste Naturärztin ihrer Zeit, eine Pionierin in diesem Feld. Ihr tausendseitiges Buch ‚Die Frau als Hausärztin’ war ein Bestseller, erschien in Millionen-Auflagen, und stand, wie es heißt, in jedem zweiten Haushalt. Schon 1914 waren ihre Schriften in 13 Sprachen übersetzt. Dabei hatte sie erst mit 33 Jahren, als Mutter von drei Kindern, mit dem Studium der Medizin begonnen.

Ziel ihres Buches war, die Frauen und Mütter von der Schulmedizin und von den Ärzten überhaupt möglichst unabhängig zu machen. Sie bot damit erstmals speziell den Frauen ein Grundwissen in Naturheilkunde und Sexualaufklärung und damit ein Stück Emanzipation. Nicht männliche Ärzte, Ärztinnen sollten die Frauen behandeln. Eine gesunde Lebensweise ohne Fleisch, Alkohol und Nikotin sollte viele Krankheiten erst gar nicht aufkommen lassen. Schon um 1900 hatte sie, zusammen mit Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach und der Pazifistin Bertha von Suttner in der Zeitschrift ‚Der Neue Mensch’ des Naturpredigers Johannes Guttzeit geschrieben. Guttzeit war um die selbe Zeit einer der Lehrmeister von Gusto Gräser. Es versteht sich, dass die aufgeklärte Naturheilerin von der etablierten männlichen Schulmedizin als „Quacksalberin“ und „Krebsgeschwür“ angefeindet wurde. Dass Gusto Gräser die Mitkämpferin Dückelmann aufgesucht hat, ist wahrscheinlich aber nicht belegbar. Er kam 1911 im Pferdewagen mit seiner Familie nach Dresden, wo Fotoaufnahmen gemacht wurden. 1925/26 wohnte er in der Nähe des Dresdner Hauses von Fischer-Dückelmann, dem sogenannten „Artushof“ in Loschwitz. Die Tochter der Naturärztin setzte damals deren publizistische Arbeit in aufopferungsvoller Weise fort. Möglicherweise war es Gräser, der Anna Fischer zum Monte Verità gelockt hat.

In Ascona betätigte sich Anna Fischer-Dückelmann im Sanatorium von Oedenkoven als Ärztin und Wirtschaftsleiterin. Sie lockerte die strengen Diätregeln und hoffte damit dem schwächelnden Unternehmen wieder Auftrieb zu geben, blieb aber ohne Erfolg. Sie zog sich bald wieder vom Sanatorium zurück, widmete sich im Krieg besonders der Verwundetenpflege und starb 1917 auf dem Monte Verità.

 Anna Fischer-Dückelmann als Modell

für die Locarneser Malerin Clara Wagner-Grosch

The woman artist who drew the model from life positioned the gymnast’s arm in front of her face to provide anonymity. The signature of this artist, Clara Wagner Grosch, included a notation that the portrait was done in Locarno. This was the Italian Swiss city near the life-reform colony of Ascona where Fischer-Dückelmann worked from time to time as consulting physician and vegetarian diet advisor. (85) In posing as her own “healthy woman” model, the physician would only be continuing to draw upon her own personal experiences, as she had testified to doing in other publications when giving other women preventative hygiene advice.

When Fischer-Dückelmann recommended, for example, that cities be built so that inhabitants could enjoy the greenery of gardens and trees, she was describing the type of suburb outside Dresden where her family lived in 1911. Bad air, sleep-disrupting noises, and poor nutrition in crowded city tenements would be mitigated when all districts were planned as such “garden cities,” (86) she suggested; and poor, as well as wealthy, families needed to get back in touch with more natural environments, including plants and animals. The author was optimistic enough to suggest that the future would bring improvements even as she criticized contemporaries as being out of touch with the best in ancient and rural traditions.

While the physician criticized the wealthier classes for lacking physical exercise and for being overly fed and poorly nourished by the rich food called in Germany das gute Essen, she also pointed out that women of the impoverished working classes lacked both nutritious food and adequate rest while they worked first outside at jobs and afterwards inside the home serving their husbands and families. Fischer-Dückelmann believed such women should be provided vacations at rest homes to recover while working class men who laboured for 12-hour days also needed more time for rest and recovery.                              (p.172)

Physiatrie and German Maternal Feminism:
Dr. Anna Fischer-Dückelmann Critiques Academic Medicine:


Abstract. Alternative medicine and reform strategies made Anna Fischer-Dückelmann a most controversial, notorious, and widely read women doctor before World War I. She published a dozen titles in 13 languages asserting that national well-being depended on maternal prowess. To her critics, Fischer-Dückelmann’s commitment to medical self-help and practices of Physiatrie amounted to medical quackery. Her career has been largely unexamined, yet her feminist critiques and social concerns are not far removed from modern social medicine. For this pioneering doctor, treating physical and emotional ills and promoting the health of families were first steps toward healing the divisions of a world at war.
Résumé. Les approches alternatives et réformistes du docteur Anna Fischer-Dückelmann ont fait d’elle une personne controversée, connue et beaucoup lue dans les années qui ont précédé la Première Guerre Mondiale. Elle a en effet publié une douzaine d’ouvrages, qui ont été traduits dans 13 langues, dans lesquels elle soutenait que la santé, au niveau national, dépendait avant tout des mères. Aux yeux de ses critiques, sa foi dans l’automédication et dans la « physiatrie » relevait du charlatanisme. Sa carrière a été peu étudiée jusqu’ici, mais il ressort que plusieurs de ses approches féministes et de ses préoccupations sociales n’étaient pas très éloignées de ce qui caractérise aujourd’hui la médecine sociale. Pour cette femme-médecin pionnière, le traitement des maladies et la promotion de la santé des familles constituaient les premiers pas vers la réconciliation de mondes en guerre.
Paulette Meyer, PhD, Portland, Oregon.

 “Maternal feminism” and “physiatrie” are terms that describe Fischer-Dückelmann’s ideological standpoints. Maternal feminism refers to her advocacy of women physicians to treat women, a stance that placed her in conflict with much of the male medical establishment. She defined physiatrie as the practice of healthful diet and lifestyle to prevent disease. In her mind these included a vegetarian diet and abstinence from alcohol, not especially popular notions in Imperial Germany. As a contemporary of Franziska Tiburtius, Fischer-Dückelmann’s curiosity and open-mindedness to alternative theories of treatment were condemned by many professional colleagues. This was not the type of attention sought by most women physicians. Just five years after Dr. Tiburtius’s Canadian message, the prestigious German medical journal Münchener Medizinische Wochenschrift published in July 1914 a disclaimer from an editor of a new medical publication called Dia. The irate editor, Dr. Adolf Braun, claimed that an announcement in his first issue advertising Frau Dr. Fischer-Dückelmann’s books was hidden in a location where he was not able to read it until after publication. He opposed the woman physician’s works as quackery and vowed to remove future
reference to her books in order to preserve the purity of his “physician-loyal” publication. If it were not possible to avoid paid advertisements of such quack medicine, he would certainly resign as editor of Dia. By the time Braun’s disclaimer was published, Fischer-Dückelmann had sold
over a million copies of her publications, which may have made her unpopular with less successful colleagues and literary competitors. In 1910, when another woman physician, Jenny Springer (MD Zürich, 1897), published her own medical guidebook (The Woman Doctor of the House), reviewers expressed the wish that this publication would displace the “lamentably wide popularity of the books by F…D…” linking Fischer-Dückelmann to the “cancerous spread of quackery.”
Physiatrie and German Maternal Feminism
By 1914 Anna Fischer-Dückelmann had published a dozen popular medical titles translated into 13 languages, including English. Combining simple explanations of current medical knowledge with descriptions of alternative or traditional medical practices, she gained the admiration of her lay audience and the censure of many professional peers. Her 1000-page medical advice book sold over a million copies in German alone in its first 12 years of publication. She instructed nursing students in Dresden, Germany, taught home nursing skills to international students in Switzerland, and also practised medicine at health spas where she demonstrated dietary modifications and participated in gymnastic training and water therapies along with her students and patients. Integrating popular healing traditions into academic medicine made her reputation among medical reformers in Europe and North America.

Her personal perspectives were that of an outsider, first of all, as a woman physician in a country that had long refused to allow females to take medical certification examinations. She was also an Austrian immigrant to Imperial Germany and she earned her medical degree over the border in Switzerland. Fischer-Dückelmann moved in from the margins of her society—to use bell hook’s characterisation —and asserted a maternal feminist authority to refashion the German men’s medical profession. Feminist Hedwig Dohm had responded to the patronizing attitude of many German physicians: “What if…indeed women were indiscriminately sick, sick; nothing but a great wound in the universe; and we poor invalids in spite of ourselves would really do best—as the wounded
animal creeps into a thicket—to vanish within the nursery, the bed-chamber, the lying-in chamber, giving ourselves up solely to the culture of our sex-functions.” The patriarchal characterization of women is what prompted Anna Fischer-Dückelmann to earn a medical degree and publish information that women and their families might use to counter such views.
Physiatrie and German Maternal Feminism
(Im Internet)