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Depression – A life threatening disability in Nazi Germany

By Jörg Watzinger

In this article I give a biographical sketch of my grandmother’s life in the context of Nazi psychiatry. She died in the psychiatric clinic Göppingen in May 1945.

My grandmother Marie Watzinger was born in 1880 in Munich where she grew up with two sisters. Her father was a professor of pathology. Marie had no professional training and did not visit university. Theatre and literature became a central part of her life as a young woman.


In 1912 she married my grandfather Carl Watzinger, who worked as a professor for archeology at the university of Gießen. Together they had three children: Karl Otto, my father, born in 1913, Helmut, born in 1915 und Irmgard born in 1921. While my grandfather Carl was far from home as a soldier during WW1, Marie brought up the two boys single-handedly. In October 1918, following the call for a professorship of the Archeological Institute, the family moved to Tübingen.

In family conversations, I never got a response to questions I had abou…

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