The history of psychiatry in Würzburg

The treatment of mental illness has a tradition of almost 450 years in Würzburg. The change of times and norms over the centuries influenced the scientific and social status of psychiatry and wrote its specific history. The Center of Mental Health (CMH) has set itself the task of presenting the development chronologically for Würzburg psychiatry and in doing so it has also set a focus on the role of psychiatry under National Socialism.

Records over 450 years

Long before adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry moved into the hospital in its present location, people with mental illnesses were treated in Würzburg. Würzburg was also one of the first German cities in which the subject of psychiatry was systematically taught and studied. At the Julius Maximilian University, which in turn is one of the oldest universities in Germany, the first chair of psychiatry was established in 1863, thus institutionalizing psychiatry as a clinical discipline.

The history of psychiatry in Würzburg

The following chronology gives a brief overview of important milestones in the history of psychiatry in Würzburg:


  • 1583: A ward for the inpatient treatment of mentally ill patients is opened for the first time in the Julius - Spital
  • 1833: Foundation of the first psychiatric clinic in the Julius-Spital
  • 1863: The first chair of psychiatry is established. Psychiatric research and teaching are thus institutionalized for the first time.
  • 1893: Opening of the psychiatric clinic in Füchsleinstraße
  • 1939 - 1945: Leading participation of the chair holder in the T4 campaign. Branch of the concentration camp (KZ) Flossenbürg on the grounds of the clinic.
  • 1965: Start of the new building in its present form
  • 1971: Relocation of the Psychiatric Clinic to the building of the old University Eye Clinic on Röntgenring
  • 1978: The chair for child and adolescent psychiatry is established in Würzburg. Opening of the University Hospital for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
  • 1981: In a ceremonial act, the new psychiatric clinic at Füchsleinstraße 15 is opened.
  • 2013: Foundation of the Center of Mental Health (CMH)
  • 2018: Foundation of the Comprehensive Anxiety Center as the first Psychiatric A-Center in Germany
  • 2019: Foundation of the German Center of Prevention Research on Mental Health

The crimes of the National Socialist era

The members of the CMH are very concerned about the role of psychiatry during the National Socialist era 1933-1945, especially because Werner Heyde, the Würzburg professor of psychiatry at the time, played a leading role in the so-called T4 campaign. Behind this name hides the systematic murder of more than 200,000 people with physical, mental and psychological illnesses under the direction of the Central Office T4 between 1940 and 1945. This group of people was considered unworthy of life and their murder was justified as "euthanasia".

Memorials in stone

In 2008, a stumbling block in memory of one of the euthanasia victims was laid in front of the building in Füchsleinstraße, and another one in 2017. In 2014, as part of a symposium on "Euthanasia" and forced sterilization in Würzburg at the time of National Socialism, a commemorative stele was erected in the old archway of the psychiatric clinic. One of the almost 1000 women who fell victim to this crime in Würzburg was the patient Margarete Höppel. On the initiative of the CMH, the address of the psychiatric clinic was renamed from Füchsleinstraße 15 to Margarete-Höppel-Platz 1 in 2016 in memory of her and on behalf of all other victims.

Exhibition and education

In 2017, the CMH brought the travelling exhibition "Captured, traced, destroyed. Sick and Disabled Persons under National Socialism" of the German Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Psychosomatics and Neurology (DGPPN) to Würzburg for two months. The documentation with higly emotional photos of victims and perpetrators, of measures and procedures in the implementation of the political program of a racial hygiene policy was shown nationally and internationally at 76 locations in eight different countries and on five continents.


Portraitfoto von Prof. Dr. med. Jürgen Deckert

Prof. Dr. med.
Jürgen Deckert

Speaker of the Center of Mental Health

+49 931 201-77000

Portraitfoto von Univ. Prof. Dr. med. Marcel Romanos

Univ.-Prof. Dr. med.
Marcel Romanos

Member of the board of the CMH

+49 931 201-78000

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Zentrum für Psychische Gesundheit | (Bereich F) | Margarete-Höppel-Platz 1 | 97080 Würzburg | Deutschland