On This Day … 16 May [2022]

People (Deaths)

  • 1943 – Alfred Hoche, German psychiatrist and academic (b. 1865).

Alfred Hoche

Alfred Erich Hoche (01 August 1865 to 16 May 1943) was a German psychiatrist known for his writings about eugenics and euthanasia.

Hoche studied in Berlin and Heidelberg and became a psychiatrist in 1890. He moved to Strasbourg in 1891. From 1902 he was a professor in Freiburg im Breisgau and was the director of the psychiatric clinic there. He was a major opponent of the psychoanalysis theories of Sigmund Freud. Hoche’s body of work on the classification system of mental illness had great influence. He also published poetry under the pseudonym Alfred Erich.

According to Michael Burleigh’s book “Death and Deliverance”, he was married to a Jewish woman and left his post in Freiburg after National Socialists came to power. He was privately critical of the Nazis’ euthanasia program after it claimed one of his relatives, despite its rationale being based on his own ideas. After losing his only son in 1915 he became increasingly taciturn and depressed and his death in 1943 was probably due to suicide.

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