von Baeyer, Hans Emil Ritter von

Hans Emil Ritter von Baeyer (1875–1941) was a son of the famous chemist and Nobel Prize winner Adolf Ritter von Baeyer and Adelheid Bendemann, niece of the painter Eduard Bendemann. Following medical studies in Jena and München, Hans von Baeyer obtained his doctorate in medicine in 1901; after this he continued his studies and career in orthopaedics, working in Göttingen, München and Würzburg. In 1918 Hans von Baeyer was appointed professor of orthopaedics at Heidelberg University, where he focussed on functional orthopaedics and mechanopathology. He rebuilt the orthopaedic clinic at Schlierbach-Heidelberg and arranged for a slide to be installed along the railing of the central spiral staircase so handicapped children could descend more easily. In London, in 1933, he gave a plenary lecture on synhapsis ('stitching together' in the musculoskeletal apparatus) at the Second Congress of the International Orthopaedic Society – later the same year, he was dismissed from Heidelberg University by the Nazi regime because, having two ancestors from Jewish families, he was “a bit more Jewish than permitted”.[i] He then moved to Düsseldorf where he practised privately. He suffered his first heart attack in 1938 and succumbed to another in 1941.

Apart from general orthopaedics, von Baeyer made significant contributions to many disciplines and techniques, ranging from living anatomy, physical education, gymnastics, remedial massage, biomechanics, prosthetics, orthotics, to the care of disabled children, as well as the philosophical problem of the relation between mind, body and environment. He took a delight in language and enjoyed playing with words and expressions. Selected publications by von Baeyer are in a new bibliography following the text and before the translator's endnotes (no references were provided in the original). A left-hander, Hans von Baeyer enjoyed modelling joints by whittling, constructing therapeutic aids, and building numerous innovative models for teaching his unorthodox views about the effects of muscles – he clearly was a ‘hands-on’ practitioner.