Dr Edmund Forster

The Man Who Invented Hitler: The Making of the Führer

Dr Karl Kroner

 

Dr Karl Kroner around 1918

Dr Karl Kroner around 1918
Photograph courtesy of his son Professor Klaus Kroner

Karl Kroner was the physician who, while working at the Pasewalk Lazarett in October 1918, confirmed the diagnosis made by military physicians in Belgium that Hitler’s blindness was hysterical in origin. He also named (in a statement to the US Office of Strategic Service (OSS) in March 1943 – see below for full transcript of this document) Edmund Forster as the consultant Neuropsychiatrist who treated Hitler. The following details of Karl Kroner’s father’s life were kindly provided by his son, Professor Klaus Kroner, who now resides in the USA:“Dr. Karl Kroner was born in Berlin 1878, one of seven siblings.  His father was a physician, as well as three of the brothers.  He received his medical degree before WW I and served in the cavalry on the French front (Verdun, Sedan).  Then he practiced medicine in several hospitals in and around Berlin and was was involved with the Siemens health insurance plan in Berlin.  In the late twenties he opened his own private practice. 

As the Nazi years progressed he was ever more limited in who could be 
his patients.  On the morning after Kristallnacht he along with thousands of 
other Jewish professionals was arrested at home and interned at the Oranienburg 
KZ (later to be known as Sachsen-Hausen). At this point I need to go back in his history a few years.  He married Dr. Irmgard (Liebich) in 1920 after she earned her medical degree. 

They had met while she was interning at the same hospital he was at (perhaps Moabit?).  She had been fascinated by linguistics, especially nordic languages, and started to take courses in language and literature.  This interest led to making acquaintances with university students from Scandinavia, Icelanders in 
particular. 

Our home in Berlin began seeing many celebrations of Icelandic 
holidays to which literally dozens would arrive for music, chatting, and eating. 
 Many of these Icelanders would return home to assume positions of note in 
government, politics, medicine, the press, and other professions. 

When my father was arrested in November 1938, my mother went to work on getting him released.  She turned to their friends in Iceland for help, and immediately 
received the necessary visas for us to travel there.  With the visa in hand, and the intervention of the Icelandic ambassador, the authorities released my father on November 24th with the proviso that he be out of the country within 24 hours.  After a last minute hitch at the airport (every seat on the aircraft had already been taken – DL) which the ambassador resolved with his diplomatic powers (he had a passenger removed! – DL) my father flew to Copenhagen.  My mother and I followed a few days later by train after certain affairs were taken care of – such as securing permission for me, a Gymnasium student, to leave the country during the school year.

Each of us was allowed to take 10 RM with us and the luggage we could carry.  Everything else was in time confiscated.  We arrived in Iceland on December 5th by an Icelandic passenger ship. Upon our arrival, we were welcomed with open arms, an apartment was awaiting us fully stocked with clothing and food, and non-interest loans of money were made available by many of the friends. Icelandic law did not permit foreign professionals to work there.  So my father was on occasion consulted by local physicians for his specialties (neurology and internal medicine).  Otherwise, except for some stints as a laborer for the occupation forces, he was unemployed.  All the while we were awaiting our visas for emigration to the USA which were held up because of the quota restrictions.  So our “temporary” stay got extended further and further until early 1945.  At about the same time, the Icelandic 
Althing passed a special law, which had been introduced by the Icelandic medical 
profession which issued a medical license to my father.  But by now the decision 
had been made to continue our journey and so we left Iceland on May 5th. 

He died in August 1954 and is buried in Iceland (as is my mother). So that is his story in a nutshell.  As you can imagine, telling this saga is not easy for me – it brings up feelings about wrong-doings and reminds one of the indignities my father was subjected to during his later life.”

Kroner family history translation of Iceland Newspaper article with original.