Intended for healthcare professionals


Karl Ernst Schmidt

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 22 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l863
  1. Bruce Dougan

Karl Ernst Schmidt was born in Ronneburg, Thuringia, Germany, on 10 September 1916. I was his friend, and it is with great sadness that I report his death at the age of 102 years, in Yeovil Hospital.

I am not qualified to write about his long career in medicine in general and psychiatry in particular—others will do so much better. However, a brief history of the man is worth telling.

German by birth, British by naturalisation in 1956, Karl served as a doctor with the 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division “Prinz Eugen,” a German mountain infantry division, during the second world war, in the Balkans. Shortly after D-Day, he was taken prisoner on the Western Front and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Wales.

After the war, he completed his medical training, married locally, and was able to speak Welsh, English, Malay, French, and Spanish as well as his native German. He also had a working knowledge of Hungarian, Mandarin, and various native dialects of south-east Asia (Iban and Dyak).

He was an accomplished violin player. His wartime comrades nicknamed him “Paganini.”

His experience in psychiatry was extensive. He trained personnel, designed treatment centres and community health systems, and devised new methods of treating and recording psychiatric disorders.

Karl Schmidt had experience in surgery, in obstetrics, and—as a locum—in general practice. His first love, however, was psychiatry, and he had a burning desire to treat addiction by using a unique combination of methods, his imagination having been fired by Meg Patterson’s work in this area.

Consultant psychiatrist (b 1916; MD Graz 1954; MRCS Eng, DPM Manch, FRCPsych, FRANZCP), d 8 November 2018

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