The Removal of Hahnemann’s Body


At last the lid is completely removed and Hahnemann’s body wrapped in silken bandages becomes visible. The structure of the body as shown under the bandages used in the embalming appears well preserved. The corpse is slightly shrunken, but what astonishes particularly those present is the smallness of Hahnemann’s stature….


OF PERE LA HAISE: MONUMENTS AND RELICS.

SUPPLEMENT 245

CONCERNING THE UNCERTAINTY REGARDING HAHNEMANN’S TOMB.

Dr. Gaillard writes in the French periodical, “L’Homoeopathic Militante,” of the year 1878.

Where are the last mortal remains of the Founder of Homoeopathy? People think, in Paris. But no one in the world knows in which cemetery. One of my colleagues in Paris assured me, fourteen years ago, that Hahnemann’s body had been temporarily laid in the vault of the famous painter Le Thiere.

During the assembly of the International Congress of Homoeopathic Physicians, of Suggest 14th, Dr. van der Heuvel of Antwerp, proposed in the name of the Homoeopathic Medical Service of Belgium that a monument should be erected over the grave of the Founder of the Homoeopathic School of Medicine. The President, Dr. L. Simon (Homoeopathic physician of Paris — R.H.) replied to this tat the burial place was unknown.

Dr. Petit, who knew Hahnemann’s family more intimately, stated at the same meeting that the remains were resting in the place where Madame hahnemann had laid them. But he could not exactly say where.

Two French periodicals, published in October — signed by Apothecary Catellan — that Hahnemann was at rest in the Cemetery Pere La Chaise.

In consequences of this contradictory report, Gaillard wrote to the Administration of the Cemeteries and received the information that Hahnemann had been laid in the cemetery Montmartre, 16 V. first row along wall No.9. Madame Hahnemann, his widow, was interred next to him as it was a tomb purchased in perpetuity. But that there was neither a wreath nor a border round Madame Hahnemann’s grave. There were only a few flowers to be found which had been put there a few months previously.

Dr. Platt, Professor of Chemistry at the Hahnemann College, Philadelphia, wrote on the 2nd May, 1896, to Dr. Bradford in Philadelphia:

I have called on several French physicians, but these apparently know as little about Hahnemann’s life in Paris as I do. They know nothing about the Rue de Helder or Rue de Milan. They even did not know that Hahnemann had died in Paris and was buried in Montmartre.

German description of Hahnemann’s grave in Montmartre.

Dr. Puhlmann wrote in the” Hom. Kalender,”1892, and in the “Leips. Pop. Ztg.,” 1891, 22nd year, page 10:

The monument which we here reproduce was erected by his widow very soon after his death; it is decidedly a worthy monument. The memorial stone contains the inscription;

“Chretien Frederic Samuel Hahnemann.”

It belongs as we were assured to the so-called historical graves, that is, to those which are kept in order at the expense of the French nation when the family no longer attends to them.

The cemetery keepers of Montmartre know very well where it is guide every German who asks for Hahnemann’s burial place. It can easily be found, if immediately on entering the cemetery one keeps to the 16th Division, to the left along the wall where the conspicuous tomb of Madame Marie Champeaux is to be found. It is close to that. The protecting roof which had been placed above the tomb seems to have been removed later, at least, thirteen years ago this August it was no longer present.

Puhlmann seems according to this, to have mistaken Madame Melanie Hahnemann’s tomb for the actual tomb of Hahnemann. This can be shown by the reports of Dr. Platt and the Parisian physician Dr. Cartier, of the year 1896 — therefore three years later.

Concerning the picture it is related in the same passage:

The picture originates from S. Hahnemann’s legacy, namely from his daughter in Kothen, and was presented to the Homoeopathic Hospital of Leipsic. The words inscribed under it read: “Mausolee S. Hahnemann.” The following note is added in writing; “Etched after a drawing by Suss-Hahnemann.”

SUPPLEMENT 246

THE EXCUSE OF THE FRENCH

Dr. FranCosis Cartier wrote in the” Reveu Homoeopathique FranCaise” of June 30th, 1896 (S. “Allg.hom. Ztg,” 1896, Vol.133, page 105)

It is a very modest and very neglected tomb which contains the earthly remains of the Founder of Homoeopathy! Hahnemann lies in the Cemetery of Montmartre in Paris, completely forgotten and whilst Washington has erected a monument in a public square, costing 500,000 francs, his lonely tomb is left to the ravages of time.

The French homoeopaths are not to blame form his. When Hahnemann died in 1843, paris had enough physicians and followers of his teachings who could have collected, by subscriptions, the means to erect a worthy tomb for their master. But we had to reckon with the difficulty of obtaining permission from the family, and Madame Hahnemann, his widow, who alone could dispose of her husband’s body, had a mind of her own, and had Hahnemann almost secretly buried.

The death of the master was only made known four days after his burial. and even to-day we do not know for certain whether he died in Paris or in Nice.

The famous Charge, later physician to Napoleon the Third, repeatedly tried to induce Madame Hahnemann to allow a monument to be erected to the Founder of Homoeopathy, but the widow, who who lived in the Rue Faubourg-St.-Honore, and practised Homoeopathy under the legal responsibility of her son-in-law, a son of the famous Boenninghausen (or perhaps the latter himself), opposed it most obstinately.

Thus the years passed and ultimately the care of the tomb was entirely left to the widow without any other supervision and in this way the tomb became entirely forgotten.

Dr. Cartier tells of his visit and of the previous endeavours of Professor Platt and describes the grave he found as follows:

It is marked by a large stone, larger than the others, covered by a half-sunk in roof of the zinc and surrounded by a completely rusted railing. Six wreaths, which are probably as old as the surround, have been laid under the roof. On the tombstone– no inscription — in small letters only capital “C.P.” with a number which designates it as a permanent hereditary tomb.

Hahnemann is not alone in the vault; there are two more bodies there, relatives of the family Lethiere, of whom one was the famous painter and professor in Rome. Therefore the vault does not belong to Hahnemann but to the Lethiere family, and as the latter has now become extinct, no one troubles about this vault.

Cartier’s assumption that the Le Thiere family had become extinct was, in any case, erroneous during the years 1850 and 1860. With Madame Melanie Hahnemann lived a young apothecary, Lethiere by name. Also the remarks added in brackets; “The tow skeletons which are still in Hahnemann’s tomb are those of the husbands of Madame Melanie. When she married S. Hahnemann and brought the latter to Paris she had been a window for the second time.– This cannot be proved by any documental evidence.

Cartier’s essay then continues:

Close to this tomb is a tombstone which is kept in a good condition, decorated every year with fresh flowers and fresh wreaths; it is the tomb of Melanie Hahnemann. This tomb is conscientiously kept by the daughter, Mrs. von Boenninghausen.

Are we not led to bitter meditations at the sight of these two graves, the one well cared for, the other entirely neglected” Is it possible that a man who has educated you and who has rendered so much service to humanity should be so utterly forgotten? Can the Founder of homoeopathy be so entirely put aside when you yourself bear a name which is so celebrated in homoeopathy?

But neither Mrs. con Boenninghausen (Dr. Leopold Suss Hahnemann is meant — R.H.) are entered in the register of the Cemetery of Montmartre as those who took care of the vault, Lethiere-Hahnemann, but a Mr. Cloquemin, business adviser of Mrs. von Boenninghausen in Paris, is alone mentioned in that Register. This man who had a great liking for Madame Hahnemann, faithfully tends her tomb; but as he is not a homoeopathic physician and never knew Hahnemann, he naturally had very little interest in his grave.

Poor tomb, which contains such an eminent man!

The International Homoeopathic Congress of the year 1896, elected a Committee which was to collect the money form the erection of monument on Hahnemann’s tomb which would b worthy of him. It consisted of Dr. Brasol of Petersburg, Dr. Cartier of Paris, Dr. Hughes of Brighton, Dr. Bushrod James of Philadelphia, and Dr. Villers of Dresden.

SUPPLEMENT 247

DR. CARTIER OF PARIS ON THE AUTHENTICITY OF HAHNEMANN’S TOMB

(Translated from the French of the official report on the disinterment of Hahnemann’s body. Corbeil, Printing Works of Ed. Crete, 1898)

At the re-opened tomb Dr. Cartier says:

In the presence of this open tomb before the coffin which contains the body of our celebrated master, Samuel Hahnemann, surely a duty develops upon me to describe the work of this genius who has stirred the world by his ideas and his doctrines. As Secretory of the International Sub-Committee in charge of the tomb, and as the French delegate, being the only one who can act at the place, I must offer public proof to all those who are present and to all those in the whole world who await anxiously the result of to-day’s ceremony, that we have indeed before us the precious remains of Samuel Hahnemann, and that the tomb which we shall erect in the Cemetery of Pere La Chaise, will actually cover the body of the Founder of Homoeopathy. This has its reason owing to the disputes originated a short time ago in certain Homoeopathic journals and to which we must absolutely put an end by giving all the proofs of authenticity.

The proof can be collected into two groups:

(1) The disclosures which the official Registrars, and reports of the family, and of the homoeopaths, have shown to coincide with the marks on the tomb and in the coffin.

(2) The opening of Hahnemann’s coffin where his features must sill be recognisable.

Hahnemann is buried in the tomb of the Lethiere’s; Hahnemann’s is the first body found on opening the vault. Here we have the first proof.

On the one hand the Cemetery Registers and the Parish Register; on the otherhand the Reports from Samuel Hahnemann’s grandson, Dr. Suss-Hahnemann who is now here, and by Mrs. von Boenninghausen, adopted daughter of the widow Madame Melanie Hahnemann, nee d’Hervilly, all of whom were living in Hahnemann’s time or have written about his wife, testify that Christian Samuel Hahnemann, who died at Paris in the year 1843, was buried in the vault of the Lethiere’s which was purchased in perpetuity and is marked with the number 324 of the year 1832, and the number 414 of the year 1843.

The tomb on the left-hand side of it is the burial place of the Hahnemann’s marked with the number 231 of the year 1847. This tomb only contained the body of the widow, Madame Hahnemann nee Melanie d’Hervilly, who died in 1878. Some homoeopaths have erroneously asserted, that Hahnemann’s body had been laid in this tomb. Gentlemen! It is now open before you, it only contains one coffin, the marks of which coincide with the Parish-Register of Madame Hahnemann, nee d’Hervilly. The Lethiere vault in which Hahnemann’s body rests has been reproduced in the Journal of Dr. Schwabe, “Homoeopathische Kalender 1892,” and recently reproduced in the “Hahnemannian monthly” but you can still see, gentlemen, that these are the same iron railings, the same shape of the tombstone as shown in the drawing which i put before you. Ultimately you see an obvious proof in the corner of the tombstone, the inscription” C.P. 324″ (concession perpetuelle 324, French designation for permanent grave — R.H.)

We also knew from the Cemetery Authorities and from the reports of the family, and of the homoeopathic physicians that Hahnemann’s coffin was the last that had been laid in it. Gohier’s body was the first, the cemetery no longer possesses the date of his death:the body of Lethiere, who died in 1832, is in the middle, and finally the last, that is the first under the flat stone is that of Hahnemann, who was buried in 1843.

The identification number of Hahnemann’s Coffin is in the Registers of the Cemetery of Montmartre, no. 1,252, I. District, 1843.

Now, Gentlemen, to-day you have come to ascertain the authenticity of these reports.

On the first lead coffin before us, which is separated from the others by a layer of cement, immediately under the flat stone of the Lethiere vault, we read the following inscription which has not been injured by time:

“N. 1,252, Ier, arrondissement 1843.”

Further, above we see on the coffin a lead seal; “Patent of Invention, embalming Gannal.”

Now we know that Hahnemann’s body had been embalmed by one of the first specialists of his time. The firm Gannal is still in existence in the Seine Str. No. 6. I have had an opportunity of seeing Dr. Gannal, the son and successor, who helped his father in the embalming of Hahnemann’s body, and still remembers it. According to his statement Hahnemann was embalmed with aluminium sulphate(sulfate d’alumine, System Gannal), although Dr. Suss Hahnemann, who was also a witness, asserts that the chemical substance used was arsenic. In the ledgers if the Gannal firm we can still find these words: “July 3rd, 1843. Embalming of Dr. Hahnemann, 2,000 francs.” To-day Dr. Gannal is among those present and has laid stress on the value of being present at the disinterment.

I therefore put together in sequence the proofs for the authenticity of Samuel Hahnemann’s body;

(1) Hahnemann is buried in the Lethiere hereditary vault and not in Hahnemann’s tomb, according to the Cemetery Registers and the Parish-Register; and also according to a report of an eye- witness, Dr. Suss-Hahnemann, the grandson of Hahnemann, and in accordance with an attested writing of Mrs. von Boenninghausen, adopted daughter of the widow Madame Hahnemann, and according to all those who have described Hahnemann’s life in their writings.

(2).Hahnemann’s coffin in the Lethiere hereditary vault is actually the one marked “No. 1,252, ier, arrondissement, 1843.” For(I) the No. 1,252 is very distinct on the coffin, and is the same as the one in the Cemetery Register. (2) The Rue de Milan where Hahnemann died which now belong to the IXth district, belonged in 1843, to District I of Paris. (3). Only Hahnemann died in 1843 of the people buried in Lethiere’s tomb, where tow other dead are resting who were buried, one in 1832, and the other before that date.

(3).The lead seal with the mark of the embalming by Gannal is a further proof. And ultimately, Gentlemen, in order to destroy all doubts, I have received the permission from the Prefecture, to open the lead coffin; we shall be present at a touching spectacle which will stand out in our lives; we shall contemplate the remains of the one who is daily our leader and master.– The features of the celebrated Hahnemann which have slept for fifty- five years will once more, and for the last time, see the light.

OPENING OF THE COFFIN.

When the successive speeches and addresses were finished the workmen commenced to lift up the coffin.

In the presence of the Police Commissioner, the workmen lifted the coffin out of the vault; it was placed upon planks which covered the hole made when Madame Hahnemann was disinterred.

Dr. Gannal, who supervised the work, remarked that Hahnemann’s lead coffin was only screwed down and not soldered, and expressed to the physicians, the fear that the body might not have been well preserved. The workmen removed the screws ad levered those which time had injured. The leaden covered begins to open a little and those present see Hahnemann’s feet wrapped in linen, resorting against the side of the coffin; they appear well preserved, but as more screws are forced out and the cover opens wider it is seen that there is water in the coffin, and the fear that the body might not be preserved increases.

At last the lid is completely removed and Hahnemann’s body wrapped in silken bandages becomes visible. The structure of the body as shown under the bandages used in the embalming appears well preserved. The corpse is slightly shrunken, but what astonishes particularly those present is the smallness of Hahnemann’s stature. We ask those who knew Hahnemann and we receive the answer that the Founder of Homoeopathy was indeed a small man.

The body is lying in water; this fluid is not produced by the embalming, but by water which has filtered in from outside. The bottom of Montmartre Cemetery, as experts state, is constantly permeated with water which flows along over the clay soil foundation. But if the coffin, in 1843, had been soldered instead of screwed, the water would not have penetrated. The presence of water in the coffin naturally produced a hopeless decomposition of the body. The embalmer had taken special care to cover the head and hands, not only with silk bandages, but also with pieces of cotton-wool saturated with essences; after half a century these pieces of cotton-wool looked like large sponges covering Hahnemann’s head and the hands which were crossed on the body.

Dr. Gannal removes the remains of wool and silk bandages from the hands and face which are in a better state of preservation than the other part. He looks for Hahnemann’s head but only finds a soft mass of decomposed tissue and bones. He looks for the enamelled eyes which had been placed in the orbits. Hahnemann’s body was completed decomposed; Dr. Gannal pulls out a long plait of female hair which was wound round the neck; it was probably Madame Hahnemann’s hair.

Although it was impossible to recognise Hahnemann’s features Dr. Gannal fortunately was able to withdraw from the coffin a number of objects which guaranteed the authenticity of the body.

SUPPLEMENT 248

HAHNEMANN’S BUST

C. Steinhauser apologised in Berlin on January 21st, 1834 (in the studio of Professor Rauch) for not having been able to finish the bust in time for Christmas: Under other circumstances the matter would perhaps have happened a month previously, but Professor Tieck (brother of the poet L. Tieck and a well-known sculptor –R.H.) a true anti- homoeopath, sought every opportunity to make the thing ridiculous to me or to turn me against it. Therefore, i withdrew the bust from his observation and influence in as short a space of time as possible.

Far from wishing to praise my work. I yet may flatter myself that I have earned the thanks of your personal friends here, as they assure me that the cheerfulness and freshness which are characteristics of you can be recognised in it. I know only too well how far I adhered to the truth; when my hands control my imagination I shall more nearly approach the goal. This time my only consolation is the marble reproduction about which Dr. Meirhoff is so concerned, because I am working more for the expression than for the life likeness.

Berlin, February 10th, 1835.

To Mrs. Hahnemann: During the last days I received from Mr. Lux (Magister) of Leipsic, a letter in which he acquaints me with your wish to have the bust of your husband executed in marble for the Homoeopathic Hospital of Leipsic. I made a model from life eighteen months ago for my friend Dr. Meirhoff, of Kothen, who also wanted a reproduction in marble for which a subscription was projected, this however did not materialise. I may assure you that this pleasant work would be undertaken by me with the greatest care and devotion, if only on account of its general interest.

I would ask as low an honorarium as possible and undertake the work for the ordinary price asked by the local Art Masters, of one hundred Louis d’Or, making for that sum a bust on a colossal scale which would be more suitable for this purpose. If this expense should be more than you intended I should like to advise you to begin the work with twenty Louis d’Or, by which the cost of the marble and the rougher preliminary work would be defrayed. The balance could then very easily be procured by subscriptions as the honour of the homoeopathic practitioners would not allow the matter to remain unfinished.

Hahnemann remarked laconically upon this letter, “Declined.”

Steinhauser was born on July the 3rd 1813. He studied under Rauch from the year 1831; he went to Rome in 1836 where he created some very pleasing statuary, representing chiefly the fishing and shepherd classes. Later he became celebrated as the sculptor of several successful statues. In 1864 he became Professor at Karlsruhe where he died on December 9th, 1879.

HAHNEMANN’S RELIEF.

Sculptor Adolph Straube of Berlin to Hahnemann:

April, Ist, 1833.

I am sending you herewith the small portraits in iron, as you requested; they have however not been darkened as you wish to use them for rings and breast-pins, it is therefore better to leave them raw. As a small remembrance and a slight token of my unlimited veneration, I am sending you the original in steatite which I had made for the purpose of a mould, but as the stone is not very hard it must be protected from scratching, rubbing etc.

It will soon be a year since I spent such wonderful and precious days with your kind family and in your instructive company. At last I have commissioned Lenz with your model portrait as I could not resist the wish of so many of your friends and admirers here, although the profit will not be magnificent, as I must let Lenz have it at cost price and do not wish to make it dearer on that account.

Richard Haehl
Richard Haehl was the author of - Life and Work of Samuel Hahnemann