H.J. Scherer

Dr. H.J. Scherer and his wife M-J. Donders

Hans Joachim Scherer
(1906-1945)

Born on the 14th of May 1906 in Bromberg, Western Prussia, deceased on the 16th of April 1945 in Landshut, Bavaria. After completing his medical studies at the university of Münich in 1930, H-J. Scherer trained in neuropathology under Prof. W. Spielmeyer (Münich) during two years, and then in pathology with Prof. Rössle (Hospital of the Charité, Berlin) during 14 months.

During this period Dr. H-J. Scherer published very interesting papers on the pathology of the cerebellum including the description of the “Multiple System Atrophy” (MSA) “avant la lettre”. He also published with H. Roback an important paper on myelinating glia.

Scherer fled from Germany in the summer of 1933. After passing through Paris he arrived in Antwerp where he was offered a job by Dr. L. van Bogaert, head of the Department of Neurology and Internal Medicine of the Bunge Institute (see historical vignette concerning Dr. L. van Bogaert).

H-J. Scherer worked in the laboratory of pathological anatomy (in fact a laboratory of neuropathology) of the Bunge Institute from 1934 until 1941. He started as  “Chef de travaux” and was appointed head of the same laboratory in January 1939.

H-J. Scherer had three tasks to perform: (1) to develop his own scientific work essentially on the behaviour and progression of brain tumors on one hand and on the neuropathology of mammals on the other hand; (2) to perform the general pathology of the neurological patients from Stuyvenberg hospital where Dr. L. van Bogaert was active before the opening of the Bunge Institute; and (3) to teach elements of neuropathology to the trainees from Belgium and abroad. He fulfilled these tasks extremely well.

H-J. Scherer’s scientific career was very successful in a short period of time (most of his papers were published in the prewar period) as evidenced by the list of 57 papers published in national and international journals and 4 books. His contribution to the princeps description of the cerebro-tendinous xanthomatosis with L. van Bogaert and E. Epstein deserves a special mention as well as papers co-authored by L. van Bogaert and H-J. Scherer on the amaurotic epilepsy of the Macacus Rhesus.

H-J. Scherer was one of the most prominent neuropathologist of his time. He published seminal studies on the morphology and biology of malignant gliomas. He made, for the first time, a clear distinction between primary and secondary glioblastomas. He described growth patterns reflecting the invasion of pre-existing brain tissue (secondary structures). His work has inspired modern neuropathologists like P. Kleihues or D. Zagzag who confirmed his views. It is to be noted that he was helped in his tasks by Miss M-J. Donders who made the scientific photographs at the Bunge Institute and who became his wife in 1936.

During his years at the Bunge Institute, H-J. Scherer became thus an acknowledged authority in the field of brain tumors. In 1939, during scientific conferences in the USA, he was approached by Prof. C. Aring, the founding chairman of the neurology department at the University of Cincinnati, in order to occupy the function of neuropathologist at this university (Dr. J. Steiner, Cincinnati's Medical and Neuroscience History, personal communication). He could not accept for different reasons (no visum to immigrate, his highly pregnant wife in Antwerp and the threat of a generalized war in Europe).

In Antwerp, H.J. Scherer developed also his activities in the field of animal pathology. Because of his contacts with many laboratories of veterinary neuropathology and with zoological gardens in Antwerp and in various countries in Europe and in the United States, he was able to collect and study a large amount of data which enabled him to publish, in 1944, a monograph about the comparative pathology of the nervous system of mammals.  This book could be published in Germany because the publishing house Georg Thieme Verlag, Leipzig, disposed of the necessary paper from an old stock, and because Prof.  V. von Weizsäcker and Prof. J. Hallervorden, recognizing the importance of this work, had joined their recommendations to the manuscript.

The Second World War had unfortunately a negative impact on his life. In 1939, H.J. Scherer had applied for Belgian citizenship for which he received the full support of Dr. L. van Bogaert and of all members of the Board of Trustees of the Bunge Institute. The procedure was interrupted because of the invasion and occupation of Belgium by the German army. In May 1940, like all German citizens living in Belgium, he was arrested by the Belgian police, handed over to the French authorities, and transferred into the camp of St-Cyprien in the south of France. He was freed in July 1940. Dr. L. van Bogaert who belonged to the Belgian army came back in the first days of  August.

At that time the scientific collaboration between L. van Bogaert and H-J. Scherer had come to an end for reasons which cannot be adequately documented since all direct witnesses are dead and no written evidence could be found. The alleged “usurpation story” described by K.J. Zülch in 1982-83, and reported by J. Peiffer cannot however be reconciled with two facts: 1. the scientific report written by Dr. L. van Bogaert in 1945, concerning the activities of the Institute Bunge between 1940 and 1945 (Volume IV of the Proceedings of the Bunge Institute) states specifically that Dr. L. van Bogaert was able to obtain from the Board of Trustees the re-appointment of H. J. Scherer as head of the laboratory of pathological anatomy (neuropathology) together with all the technical staff in January 1941; 2. in the correspondence between Spatz and Hallervorden who were close friends (Spatz having visited and exchanged scientific information with Dr. L. van Bogaert two times during the period August-September 1940), nothing is said about a dispute which should have happened after the return of Dr. L. van Bogaert to the Bunge Institute in august 1940.

Dr. H-J. Scherer left the Bunge Institute in February 1941 to join effectively the University of Ghent where he pursued his scientific activities. Since April 1939 he had indeed been appointed as a half-time assistant at the University of Ghent while still performing his neuropathogical activities in the Bunge Institute. In December 1941, the German Occupation Authorities ordered him to go back to Germany because of a shortage of medical doctors. H-J. Scherer obtained a position of neuropathologist at the Neurological Institute in Breslau, Silesia, where he worked until he was summoned up as a “Volkssturmarzt” in the autumn of 1944. He left Breslau in January 1945 and was able to find a safe accommodation for his family in the Bavarian forest. In April 1945 he was appointed assistant for neuropathology at the German Research Institute for Psychiatry in Munich. A few days later, after having paid a visit to his family, he was killed on his way back to Munich during an air raid on the railway station of Landshut.

 It is very sad that his life came untimely to an end, not only for his family, but also because of the interruption of such a brilliant scientific career, and last but not least because he was not able to defend himself against wrong allegations which are, in my opinion, adequately refuted by his son, Dr. M. Scherer in a very convincing memoir (personal communication).

See

Correspondence between H. Spatz and J. Hallervorden during the month September 1940 (Edinger-Archive, Neurologisches Institut, Klinikum der Johan Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main. Kindly put at my disposal by Dr. G. Kreft from that Institute and “translated” from the Sütterlinschrift into modern German by Prof. Dr. W. Schlote).

Peiffer J. “Hirnforschung im Zwielicht: Beispiele verführbarer Wissenschaft aus der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus; Julius Hallervorden – H.-J. Scherer – Berthold Ostertag (Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften, Heft 79, Matthiesen 1997)”,

van Bogaert L. Scientific report concerning the activities of the Bunge Institute for the period 1940-1945 (Rapport sur les travaux des laboratoires de médecine expérimentale et d’anatomie pathologique de mai 1940 à décembre 1945). Volume IV of the Travaux de l’Institut Bunge, Antwerp, 1947.

 

Publications of Hans-Joachim Scherer
1 E. SCHARRER , H.J. SCHERER: Beitrag zur Frage des experimentellen Hyperfeminismus; 1929, Zeitschrift vergleichende Physiologie, vol. 8, nr. 5 , pages 749-760.
2 H.J. SCHERER: Über Riesenfaltenbildung der Magenschleimhaut; 1930, Frankfurter Zeitschrift für Pathologie, vol. 40, nr. 2, pages 357-381
3 H.J. SCHERER: Zur Frage der Diabetespsychosen; 1931, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, vol. 134, pages 60-70.
4 H.J. SCHERER: Beiträge zur pathologischen Anatomie des Kleinhirns. I. Mitteilung Die lokalen Veränderungen der Kleinhirnrinde; 1931, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, vol. 136, pages 559-595.
5 H.J. SCHERER: Die Ammonshornveränderungen bei der familiären amaurotischen Idiotie; 1932, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, vol. 138, pages 481-492.
6 H.J. SCHERER: Beiträge zur pathologischen Anatomie des Kleinhirns. II. Mitteilung: Die Erkrankung des Kleinhirnmarkes und seiner Kerne, insbesondere des Nucleus dentatus; 1932, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, vol. 139, pages 337-368.
7 H.J. SCHERER: Funikuläre Spinalerkrankungen mit schwerer Beteiligung des Grosshirnmarkes und Opticusveränderungen bei fünf Pavianen; 1932, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, vol. 141, pages 212-234.
8 H.J. SCHERER: Die Sonderstellung der Aortenlues bei der progressiven Paralyse; 1932, Virchow´s Archiv path. Anat., vol. 286, pages 183-248.
9 H.J. SCHERER: Zur Frage der Beziehungen zwischen Leber – und Gehirnveränderungen; 1933, Virchow´s Archiv path. Anat., vol. 288, pages 333-345.
10 H.J. SCHERER: Beiträge zur pathologischen Anatomie des Kleinhirns. III.Mitteilung: Genuine Kleinhirnatrophien; 1933, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, vol. 145, pages 335-405.
11 H.J. SCHERER: Extrapyramidale Störungen bei der olivoponto-cerebellaren Atrophie. Ein Beitrag zum Problem des lokalen vorzeitigen Alterns; 1933, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, vol. 145, pages 406-419.
12 O. MAAS , H.J. SCHERER: Zur Klinik und Anatomie einiger seltener Kleinhirnerkrakungen; 1933, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, vol. 145, pages 420-444.
13 H.J. SCHERER: Zur Frage des Zusamenhanges zwischen Neurofibromatose (Recklinghausen) und umschriebenem Riesenwuchs; 1933, Virchow´s Archiv path. Anat., vol. 289, pages 127-150.
14 H.J. SCHERER: Die Bedeuting des Mesenchyms in Gliomen; 1933, Virchow´s Archiv path. Anat., vol. 291, pages 321-340.
15 H.J. SCHERER: Untersuchungen über den geweblichen Aufbau der Geschwülste des peripheren Nervensystems; 1934, Virchow´s Archiv Path. Anat., vol. 292, pages 479-553.
16 H.J. SCHERER: Zur Differentialdiagnose der intracerebralen ("zentralen") Neurinome; 1934, Virchow´s Archiv Path. Anat., vol. 292, pages 554-561.
17 H.J. SCHERER: Beitrag zur Differentialdiagnose neurogener Geschwülste; 1934, Virchow´s Archiv Path. Anat., vol. 292, pages 562-576.
18 H.J. SCHERER: Bemerkungen zur Empfindlichkeit der Ganglienzelle; 1934, Virchow´s Archiv Path. Anat., vol. 293, pages 429-437.
19 L. van BOGAERT et H.J. SCHERER: Hémangiomatose familiale de Rendu-Osler et cirrhose hépatique (contribution à l´étude des cirrhoses familiales); Octobre 1935, Annales de Médecine, vol. 38, nr. 3, pages 290-300.
20 H.N. ROBACK , H.J. SCHERER: Über die feinere Morphologie des frühkindlichen Gehirns unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Gliaentwicklung; 1935, Virchow´s Archiv path. Anat., vol. 294, pages 365-413.
21 A. van BOGAERT et H.J. SCHERER: A propos du diagnostic différentiel de la thrombose pulmonaire et coronaire. Observation clinique, électrocardiographique et anatomique d´un cas de mésartérite pulmonaire primitive avec thrombose; 1935, Archives des Maladies du Cœur, novembre 1935, pages 1-13.
22 L. van BOGAERT und H.J. SCHERER: Akute amaurotische Epilepsie beim Macacus Rhesus. Eine anatomisch-klinische Studie; 1935, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, vol. 152, pages 757-786.
23 H.J. SCHERER: Gliomstudien I. Problemstellung, Methodik; 1935, Virchow´s Archiv path. Anat., vol. 294, pages 790-794.
24 H.J. SCHERER: Gliomstudien II. Über die Grenzen der Zelldiagnostik in Gehirngeschwülsten, dargestellt am Beispiel des "Glioblastoma multiforme gangliodes"; 1935, Virchow´s Archiv path. Anat., vol. 294, pages 795-822.
25 H.J. SCHERER: Gliomstudien III. Angioplastische Gliome; 1935, Virchow´s Archiv path. Anat., vol. 294, pages 823-861.
26 H.J. SCHERER: Les problèmes des gliomes multiples; 1935, Journal belge de Neurologie et de Psychiatrie, Vol.35, Nr. 12, pages 685-698.
27 J. DE BUSSCHER et H.J. SCHERER: Syphilis cérébrale et gliome; 1935, Journal belge de Neurologie et de Psychiatrie, vol. 35, nr. 12, pages 714-725.
28 L. van BOGAERT und H.J. SCHERER: Zur Frage der Beziehungen von Pallidum- und Kleinhirnläsionen zum Syndrom der Drehbewegungen um die Körperachse; 1936, Monatsschrift für Psychiatrie und Neurologie, vol. 93, pages 140-165.
29 L. van BOGAERT , C. VAN CAUTEREN et H.J SCHERER: La forme ostéoplastique généraliséé des métastases du cancer prostatique; Novembre 1936, La Presse Médicale, Nr. 92 (14 novembre 1936) pages 1816-1819.
30 H.J. SCHERER: Etude sur les gliomes. IV. Croissance des gliomes dans leurs rapports avec les substances blanches et grises du cerveau; 1936, Bull. Assoc. Franç. Etude du Cancer, Vol. 25, pages 451-469.
31 H.J. SCHERER: Etude sur les gliomes. V. Comportement des différents gliomes vis-à-vis des cellules ganglionaires; 1936, Bull. Assoc. Franç. Etude du Cancer, Vol. 25, pages 470-493.
32 H.J. SCHERER: Influence des tumeurs méningées sur le tissu cérébral. Contribution à l´étude de l´influence de la compression sur le parenchyme nerveux; Septembre 1936, Revue Neurologique, vol. 66, nr.3, pages 307-322.
33 H.J. SCHERER: Etude sur les gliomes. Les rapports de la croissance gliomateuse avec l´appareil vasiculaire; 1937, Bull. Assoc. Franç. Etude du Cancer, vol. 26, pages 274-313.
34 H.J. SCHERER et J. DE BUSSCHER: Sur une forme particulière de gliomatose péri-vasculaire; 1937, Journal belge de Neurologie et de Psychiatrie , vol. 37, nr. 5, pages 299-310.
35 L. van BOGAERT, H. J. SCHERER et E. EPSTEIN: Une forme cérébrale de la cholestérinose généralisée (type particulier de lipidose à cholestérine); 1937, pp.183 + 61 figures, Masson & Cie ,éditeurs.
36 L. van BOGAERT, H. J. SCHERER, A. FREHLICH et E. EPSTEIN: Une deuxième observation de cholestérinose tendineuse symétrique avec symptomes cérébraux; Juin 1937, Annales de Médecine, vol. 42, nr. 1, pages 69-101.
37 H.J. SCHERER: Sur une forme à évolution phasique de la leuco-encéphalose périvasculaire confluente chez le Macacus Rhesus. (Type cérébral répondant à la myélose funiculaire du singe); Décembre 1937, Revue Neurologique, vol. 68, nr. 6, pages 807-822.
38 J. MAGE, H.J. SCHERER: Tumeur cérébrale parvicellulaire se propageant dans l´espace de Virchow-Robin. (La question des sarcomes adventitiels perivasculaires ou perithéliaux); Décembre 1937, Journal belge de Neurologie et de Psychiatrie, vol. 37, pages 731-746.
39 H.J. SCHERER: Sur le développement des structures dans les gliomes. Deuxième Congrès International de lutte scientifique et sociale contre le cancer. 1937, vol. 2, pages 250-254.
40 H.J. SCHERER: La "Glioblastomatose en plaques". Sur les limites anatomiques de la gliomatose et des processus sclérotiques progressifs (sclérose en plaques, sclérose diffuse de Schilder, sclérose concentrique); 1938, Journal belge de Neurologie et de Psychiatrie, vol. 38, nr. 1, pages 1-17.
41 J. DE BUSSCHER , H.J. SCHERER , F. THOMAS: La méningite à torula (Contribution à l´étude des localisations nerveuses des infections à pseudolevures); Août 1938, Revue Neurologique, vol. 70, nr. 2, pages 149-168.
42 L. van BOGAERT and H.J. SCHERER: Acute amaurotic epilepsy in Macacus Rhesus; September 1938, Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, vol. 40, pages 521-547.
43 H.J. SCHERER: The frequency of gliomas having variable histological structure; 1938, Journal belge de Neurologie et de Psychiatrie, vol. 38, nr. 10, pages 783-787.
44 J. DE BUSSCHER, H.J. SCHERER , F. THOMAS: Recklinghausen´s neurofibromatosis combined with true syringomyelia; 1938, Journal belge de Neurologie et de Psychiatrie, vol. 38, nr. 10, pages 788-802.
45 H.J. SCHERER: Structural development in gliomas; November 1938, American Journal of Cancer, vol. 34, nr. 3, pages 333-351.
46 H.J. SCHERER et COLLET, L.: Contribution à la neuropathologie du chien. Avec remarques sur la patologie de la maladie de Carré (canine distemper, Staupe – Encephalitis ); 1939, Journal Belge de Neurologie et de Psychiatrie, vol. 39, nr. 2, pages 132-143.
47 H.J. SCHERER: Melanin pigmentation of the substantia nigra in primates; August 1939, Journal of Comparative Neurology, vol. 71, nr. 1, pages 91-98.
48 H.J. SCHERER: Les formes de croissance des gliomes et leur importance pratique; 1939, Journal Belge de Neurologie et de Psychiatrie, vol 39, nr. 8, pages 591-597; also in Deuxième Congrès Hollando-Belge de Neurologie (Gand 24 septembre – Bruxelles 25 septembre 1938), pages 185-191.
49 J. HELSMOORTEL junior et H.J. SCHERER: Un méningiome de l´olfactif; 1939, Journal Belge de Neurologie et de Psychiatrie, vol. 39, nr. 10, pages 647-653.
50 H.J. SCHERER: Over spontane encephalomyelose bij apen en de beteekenis hiervan voor de menschelijke neuropathologie en voor het vitamine-onderzoek; December 1939, Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, vol. 83, pages 5977- 5979. Nederlandse Patholoog-Anatomen Vereniging, 29ste vergadering, ´s-Gravenhage]
51 H.J. SCHERER: Degeneration of the Papillo-Macular Bundle in Apes and its Significance in Human Neuro-pathology, January 1940, Journal of Neurology and Psychiatry, vol. 3 (new series), nr. 1, pages 37-48.
52 A. FROEHLICH und H.J. SCHERER: Zur Kenntnis der visceralen Form der Besnier-Boeckschen Krankheit; 1940, Gastroenterologia, vol. 65, pages 36-51.
53 J. VERNIEUWE et H.J. SCHERER: Tumeurs des bulbes olfactifs dans la neurofibromatose de Recklinghausen; Février 1940, Revue de Laryngologie, Otologie, Rhinologie, vol. 61, Nr. 2, pages 61-77.
54 H.J. SCHERER: The Forms of Growth in Gliomas and their Practical Significance; March 1940, Brain, vol. 63, pages 1-35.
55 H.J. SCHERER: Cerebral astrocytomas and their derivatives; October 1940, American Journal of Cancer vol. 40, nr. 2, pages 159-198.
56 H.J. SCHERER: The pathology of cerebral gliomas. A critical review; Journal of Neurology & Psychiatry (new series), 1940, vol. 3, pages 147-177.
57 H.J. SCHERER: Quelques résultats pratiques de l´étude complète de 135 cas de gliomes confrontés avec les expériences neuro-chirurgicales; Psychiatrische en Neurologische Bladen, 1941, vol. 45, pages 718-738.
58 J. VERNIEUWE, H.J. SCHERER: Contribution anatomo-clinique à l´étude de l´anosmie; Bulletin de l´Académie Royale de Médecine de Belgique, 1941, Série VI, Tome 6, pages 292-308. [1941.05.31] + pages 355-358.
59 J. VERNIEUWE et H.J. SCHERER: Contribution à l´étude du bulbe olfactif humain normal et pathologique; 1942, pp.126 + 75 figures, Fondation universitaire, Ed. Rombaut-Fecheyr, Gand.
60 J. DE BUSSCHER , H.J. SCHERER: Les Gliomes de l´Encéphale. Etude anatomo-clinique. Tome I. Généralités ; Astrocytomes cérébraux; oligodendroglio-astrocytome du septum lucidum ; (1942) , J. Vromans , 160 pages text + 48 pages illustrations (107 figures).
61 H.J. SCHERER: Vergleichende Pathologie des Nervensystems der Saugetiere unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Primaten. Ein Versuch; (1944) , Georg Thieme Verlag (Leipzig) , pp.336 + 244 figures.

Jean-Jacques Martin

back