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Arlow, J.A. (1994). William G. Niederland, M.D—1905-1993. Psychoanal Q., 63:101-103.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:101-103

William G. Niederland, M.D—1905-1993

Jacob A. Arlow

The Psychoanalytic Quarterly notes with profound sadness the passing of Dr. William G. Niederland, who for more than twenty years served as a member of the Editorial Board. The very mention of his name brings to mind the image of a genial, ebullient, enthusiastic friend and colleague, known and beloved by all. He was a man of heroic proportions, who overcame the most daunting obstacles to prevail and live out a life of satisfaction and creativity.

He was born in East Prussia, the son of an orthodox rabbi, and in early life was exposed to both the classic Talmudic education and to the secular learning of the Realgymnasium of Würzburg, Bavaria. After completing his medical studies at the University of Würzburg, he went on to an internship and residency in medicine. For years he served as an officer of the Department of Health for the industrial region of the Ruhr. By the time he began his psychiatric training in 1932, he already had to his credit two major medical discoveries. The first was a microchemical reaction in the seminal fluid, a test that was of great importance in forensic medicine and was known in the German medical legal literature as the Niederland reaction until the Nazis came to power. As late as 1933, Niederland received an award from the German Medical Association for his discovery of the traumatic genesis of Dupuytren's contracture and its relationship to hereditary rests in the palmar aponeurosis.

Shortly after Hitler came to power, Niederland left Germany for Genoa, Italy. He told an amusing story of how he reached his decision to emigrate.

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