[History as politics. Medical historians in Berlin and Graz serving the NS-State].Med Ges Gesch 2005; 24:151-80MG
History of medicine played an important part in the ideology and policy of the Third Reich. The Nazi Party and the "Schutzstaffel" (SS) tried to instrumentalize historical knowledge to justify their ideology and medical ethics. The academic discipline of the history of medicine saw a revival during the Nazi period and, especially, during the Second World War. Important medical historians were eager to contribute to a symbiosis between the State and their field. The close relationship between the history of medicine and the Nazi regime was particularly apparent at Paul Diepgen's Department for the History of Medicine and Natural Sciences at the University of Berlin. Diepgen, apart from his own collaboration with the Nazi regime, was the teacher of Bernward J. Gottlieb who became the leading medical historian of the SS and Director of the new "SS-Institute for the History of Medicine" in Berlin in 1941. Gottlieb's institute moved in 1943 to the "SS-Academy" in Graz to train future SS-physicians in the history of medicine. The history of medicine was of great relevance also for certain members of the Nazi elite. They included Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, who ensured that Gottlieb would become Diepgen's successor in 1945 for the chair of medical history at the University of Berlin. Hitler was asked to intervene in the appointment process given the political importance of the field and, in particular, the professorship being located in Berlin. The SS was able to exercise, by this time, a decisive influence on the field of the history of medicine. Only the collapse of the Third Reich prevented the traditional discipline from becoming a "science" to legitimize the Nazi System and the SS. The aim of this paper is to examine the role of the field of the history of medicine and of its key institutions and personalities during the Third Reich.