Sue Young Histories

Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Fleischmann 1799 - 1868

November 06, 2008

Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Fleischmann 1799 - 1868 was an Austrian orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy.

Fleischmann was a Knight of the Imperial Order of Francis Joseph, of the Papal Order of Gregory, of the Royal Bavarian Order of Michael, of the Royal Saxon Order of Albrecht, of the Royal Prussian Kronen Order, of the Order of Ludwig in Lucca, member of College of Physicians in Vienna, and of the Central Union of Homeopathic Physicians of Germany and of several other learned societies.

Pope Pius IX awarded him the Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1860,

Fleischmann was an editor of the Oestrerreiche Zeitschrift für Homëopathie, the organ of the Vienna Provers’ Union.

Fleischmann was the homeopath at the Vienna Homeopathic Hospital for thirty three years, and at the Gumpendorf Hospital, where he successfully used homeopathy to treat the Cholera epidemic in 1836.

Fleischmann himself relates (Hyg. 8, 316), he was commissioned to lay before the court a report upon the cholera, and the best mode of treatment in accordance with his experience. The immediate result obtained was the removal of the prohibition to practice Homeopathy in Austria in February, 1837. The liberty to dispense the dilutions and triturations was subsequently accorded. The American Institute Transactions for 1891.

Fleischmann lectured at the Vienna Homeopathic Hospital, and his assistant there was a Dr. Rothsanel. Fleischmann taught Robert Ellis Dudgeon, John James Drysdale, John Forbes, William Henderson and John Rutherford Russell, and he was a colleague of Joseph Attomyr, William Tod Helmuth and many others.

Fleischmann was the homeopathic physician of Giacomo Meyerbeer.

On the 23d of November. 1868, died at Vienna, from inflammation of the lungs, in his 70th year, Wilhelm Fleischmann, M. D., Primaries of the Hospital of the Grey Sisters in Gumpendorf, Knight of the Imperial Order of Francis Joseph, of the Papal Order of Gregory, of the Royal Bavarian Order of Michael, of the Royal Saxon Order of Albrecht, of the Royal Prussian Kronen Order, of the Order of Ludwig in Lucca, member of College of Physicians in Vienna, and of the Central Union of Homoeopathic Physicians of Germany and of several other learned societies.

Thus again one of our most worthy members has passed… He worked throughout his long life with all his strength for our Homeopathy, internally and externally, and toward both sides with the greatest success. This secured for him a rare recognition on the part of his clients and the deep esteem of his colleagues.

On the 24th of November Das Vaterland contained the following brief necrology: The celebrated and universally esteemed homeopathic physician, Dr. Fleischmann, succumbed this (the 23d) evening to arthritic inflammation of the lungs.

A deeply felt loss for many sufferers, who citing to him with a trust that was not caused merely by the penetration and skill of the physician… indeed, to a rare combination of excellent qualities; a clear understanding, a sympathetic heart, a blameless, thoroughly reliable character and mature experience.

In spite of his advanced age and his own bodily sufferings, he devoted himself to his avocation up to his last painful illness, and this, with indefatigable industry, not only in the hospital of the Merciful Sisters at Gumpendorf, to which he had given for many years the most indefatigable care, in his otherwise extended practice.

All who came into relation with him, will preserve… an imperishable, grateful memory,….

The history of to life of Dr. Fleischmann is also the history of the Gumpendorf Hospital of Vienna. In the year 1810, the practice of Homeopathy was forbidden throughout the Austrian Empire at the suggestion of Stifft the physician to the emperor Francis I of Austria.

It is due to Fleischmann that this unjust restriction was removed.

George Schmid was the first homeopathic physician in charge of the hospital of the Sisters of Charity at Gumpendorf, a suburb of Vienna. George Schmid took charge when Homeopathy was first introduced into the hospital in July. 1833. In January, 1835, Dr. Fleischmann succeeded him.

The treatment had been partly homeopathic and in part allopathic, Dr, Fleischmann says: In January, 1835, the management of the hospital was committed to me, and at the very outset I got rid of all other drugs, for I wished rather that to the system should be given a decided trial in my hands than that the result should be ambiguous from my mode of treatment, I treated all patients without exception homeopathically.

When the visitation of cholera reappeared in 1836, I reported the happy issue of my treatment to the Government, and the minister, Count Kolowrat, who is ever forward to advance and protect whatever is good and useful, graciously took up the matter, and very soon afterwards his Majesty issued an order canceling the statute which forbade the practice of Homeopathy.

This hospital stands in the centre of an unhealthy suburb, but is conducted with good hygienic care. It contains fifty four beds, the nursing is conducted by the Sisters of Charity of the Order of St, Vincent de Paul. There is also a large dispensary.

For thirty three years Dr. Fleischmann was the active physician of this hospital. In its wards Homeopathy has been practically studied by physicians from England, France, Italy, Germany and America.

It was our of the things for a homeopathic student to do to visit the homeopathic hospital of Fleischmann at Vienna. In an address delivered by Dr. Fleischmann in 1855, he tells the story of his introduction to the hospital…

With Clemens Hampe, Philipp Anton Watzke and Franz Wurmb, Dr. Fleischmann was an editor of the Oestrerreiche Zeitschrift für Homëopathie, the organ of the Vienna Provers’ Union, of which he was also an early member. He was very greatly respected by his many friends.

In 1860 he was decorated with the cross of the Franz Joseph Order of Knighthood by Franz Joseph I; from the Pope he received the Order of Gregory, and other similar… (he wrote to) Samuel Hahnemann regarding the matter, and that Samuel Hahnemann advised him to compare his symptoms with those produced by the medicines whose effects were to be found in the Materia Medica Pura, and mentioned several remedies, adding that he would probably find the similimum amongst them. This he did and was cured.

But he was always troubled with the gouty diathesis. In 1842 he sought, with the Vienna provers, to prove Colocynthis, but was obliged to desist. He “concluded not to subject his gouty body to any further experience with Colocynthis.”

He died of an attack of gouty inflammation of the lungs, November 23, 1868, at Vienna, in his 70 th year. A writer in the British Journal of Homoeopathy, for January, 1869. says: Wherever Homeopathy has penetrated the name of Fleischmann is a household word.

His connection with the Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy, at Vienna, at the time of the outbreak of cholera in that city, in 1836, gave him an opportunity of showing the success of the homeopathic treatment of that disease, which proved to be so much greater than that of the ordinary method, that from that date Homeopathy obtained a firm- footing in the Austrian states.

Dr. Fleischmann maintained his connection with the Gumpendorf Hospital to the last, and he had the satisfaction of seeing two more hospitals in Vienna placed under the care of homeopathic physicians, the governors of these hospitals being led to do this in consequence of the success attending Fleischmann’s treatment.

Many British practitioners, both homeopathic and allopathic, have followed with diligence the treatment of the distinguished physician, and attended his daily rounds in the neat and quiet hospital over which he presided.

These Gentlemen were all received by him with a kind of gruff courtesy. Though laconic of speech he was always perfectly polite and would submit to be questioned on points of his practice by his inquisitive and often hostile visitors, with perfect equanimity.

With the death of Karl Friedrich Gottfried Trinks and Fleischmann, homeopathy seems to have lost all the old pioneers of Homeopathy and contemporaries of Samuel Hahnemann in Germany…

Pierre Augustus Rapou says that when the cholera came they received at the Gumperdorf Hospital 732 cases: 488 recovered, 244 died : a mortality of 33 per cent, while the reported mortality of the Allopaths was 70 per cent.

This result was very much less than that obtained by the Homeopaths of Bohemia and Hungary, and was to be attributed to the inexperience of Fleischmann, who had not treated the epidemic of 1832, and who had but a short time been practicing Homeopathy.

This success resulted in the annulment of the decree of 1819 forbidding Homeopathy in Austria.

Many Allopathic physicians followed the results of the treatment, among whom was the State Physician, Knoltz, who expressed satisfaction at the good results.

Fleischmann holds a place between the exact Homeopaths and the reformers. A practicing Allopath and a warm adversary of our ideas, he had suffered long from a painful gout for which his art gave no help. Thinking that the new method might be of use, he wrote to Samuel Hahnemann, who was then living at Coethen. The remedies which he received promptly cured the malady.

During my stay in Vienna I found that the hospital at Gumpendorf had already acquired a certain celebrity in the treatment of pulmonary afflictions. At the clinic many young doctors attended solely on account of the reputation of Fleischmann, who had made such a success of this sort of malady.

In 1840, out of fifty cases of pneumonia there were but two deaths. In 1841, out of thirty seven cases, all recovered.

Pierre Augustus Rapou says: In 1843 there was formed at Vienna, under the direction of Fleischmann, a society exclusively for the study of remedies. It was composed of about thirty members, many of them young physicians visiting Gumpendorf.

Each received an unknown substance which he was to take in regular closes, noting all the symptoms produced. The results were inserted in the journal of the society.

William Tod Helmuth thus writes in his Western Homeopathic Observer, February, 1869:

Little did we think while conversing with Dr. Fleischmann in his consulting room at Vienna in the latter part of September last, that a few weeks would number him with the departed great men of the homeopathic school.

“His gentleness of manner and kindness, his great desire to understand the progress of Homeopathy in America, his firm conviction in its final employment all over the known world only tended to impress upon our mind the great interest that he felt in that system of medicine for which he had labored through the whole course of his active professional life.

“Among the services rendered to Homeopathy by Dr. Fleischmann were the removal of the restrictions laid upon the practice in 1819 by the Austrian Empire, and in 1835 the thorough introduction of homeopathic principles into the hospital of the Sisters of Charity at Gumpendorf.

“In 1836 he made his celebrated report upon the treatment of cholera. For thirty three years Dr. Fleischmann has been the physician to this hospital, and has not only endeared himself both to patients, nurses and all connected with the charity, but has made it a school where many of our most eminent men have acquired knowledge of the principles and practice of Homeopathy.

He also was one of a commission appointed by the Imperial Government to inquire into the propriety of homoeopathic physicians dispensing their own medicines, and was successful in obtaining the desired privilege

“He died on the 23d of November, of a gouty inflammation of the lungs, at Vienna, in the 70th year of his age. In his death the homeopathic physicians of the world have sustained a severe loss”.

Of interest:

Wilhelm Fleischmann 1801 - 1868 German homeopath.