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A Berlin publishing family 1929-2019 and the journal Cosmetic Medicine 1952-2019

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In this article I tell the exciting story of our family publishing house, which was founded in 1929. The story of the closing of the publishing house by the National Socialists and the re-establishment of the publishing house after the war, as the most important publishing house for German dermatology from 1946 onwards, I would like to tell you here. In addition, the history of the journal Kosmetische Medizin / Cosmetic Medicine is described in detail.



After the Second World War and the end of National Socialism, no other publisher apart from the publishers Julius Springer and Thieme influenced German dermatology as much as the Berliner Medizinische Verlagsanstalt, now Gesundheitsmedien und Congress GmbH. Despite many turbulences and upheavals, we were able to maintain our independence as a family-run company. This year we are celebrating 2 anniversaries: 1. 90 years of publishing and 2. 40 years of cosmetic medicine.


Already as a young boy I was fascinated by the magazines of our company. Not only my father, but also the very history-conscious dermatologists fired my interest in general history and the history of dermatology in particular. Today we are confronted with many upheavals. The generation born after 1989 have hardly any interest in history. They know no borders within Germany and Europe. They are not aware of how much previous generations used their lives to fight for democracy and freedom. Our pluralistic society today and our wealth do not come by chance. We owe it to the people about whom I am writing here.


1929 – 1933

My grandfather, Eduard Grosse III, founded our publishing house in 1929, which among other things published the magazine Der Junggeselle (The Bachelor) and the organ of the Berliner Radsport Verband e.V. (Berlin Cycling Association). During this time, he got to know the dermatologist Ludwig Levy-Lenz, who, in addition to his medical work, also edited the magazine Die Ehe – Monthly for Marriage – Science and Culture and later the journal Cosmetic Medicine. His circle of friends also included the dermatologist Erich Langer, who, together with Ludwig Levy-Lenz, was to become the most important comrades-in-arms of our publishing house after the war. I dedicate separate chapters to both Jewish dermatologists in this issue.


My grandfather saw, like few others, the dark clouds of National Socialism on the horizon. As a convinced democrat and advocate of the still young German democracy, he published books with titles such as Whoever votes for Hitler votes for waror Hitler – The End of Germany!


For this reason, immediately after the National Socialists seized power, the publishing house was closed and Eduard Grosse III was interned for several months together with many other democrats. However, with the help of a cousin who was with the SA, he was released again. Blood was thicker than faith in the leader.


Since he was an enthusiastic cyclist and headed the Berlin Cycling Association for many years, he founded a bicycle factory. One of his brothers opened a bicycle shop in the Wiener Straße in Kreuzberg, where the bicycles were sold.

1943 – 1945: Resistance against the regime 

In order to escape the many bomb attacks, my father Eduard Grosse IV was sent to a boarding school in Waldsieversdorf near Berlin, where many descendants of the Prussian nobility also went. In 1943 – in a ditch – he and a few friends, among them Sir Ralf Dahrendorf, later sociologist and president of the London School of Economics, founded the Freiheitsbund Höherer Schüler Deutschlands (Freedom Association of Higher Pupils in Germany) to do something against the terror of the Nazi regime. Co-founder Harald Müller remembers:


We made leaflets and painted railway cars, we threw these leaflets down from a department store at Alexanderplatz, in broad daylight. Not only did we distribute our own leaflets, but there were many air raids where the Allies dropped leaflets, which we collected and distributed again… We longed for the defeat of National Socialism. Every night the foreign radio stations were intercepted. So with my heart on the allied side, as a German young man who felt the occupation here to be liberation. But, as I said, that’s no merit, if I hadn’t grown into this situation personally, through my family, I might have become a Hitler Youth [1]. 


In November 1944, at the age of 16, my father received the notice of muster and had to go to Fürstenwalde for muster, where he was immediately received by two men – as in American films – in high boots, leather coats and hats whose brims had been turned down. “You’re under arrest, my boy. Secret state police”. He was interrogated for eight hours at the Gestapo office in Fürstenwalde. But he did not reveal the names of his comrades. A smashed right finger reminded him of this time all his life. He was then taken to a concentration camp in Schwetig an der Oder, where, together with Ralph Dahrendorf, he spent several months under catastrophic conditions. Only by chance did my grandfather find out where he was and could bribe the camp commander with some paintings, carpets and cash to free him and Dahrendorf. They were the only ones who survived the camp. All the other inmates were killed shortly before the Red Army invaded.


The new beginning after the war

About three weeks after the end of the war, a large Russian ZIS limousine stopped in front of my family’s half-destroyed house in Berlin’s Buckow-West district. My father was head of the anti-fascist youth committee Buckow-West at that time. Two young men got out of the limousine. One of them said: “My name is Erich Honecker1. I am looking for Eduard Grosse. The other introduced himself as Heinz Keßler2, who was looking for someone to publish a magazine for the youth. After the conversation, my grandfather said to my father: “Boy, be careful. Both have the cold idealism of the SS in their eyes. Don’t join their journal Young Life.” So, the idea was born to publish their own magazine.

The comrade-in-arms of my father Harald Müller remembered:

With this idea we went to the American military government to get a license. They then talked to us a few times, noticed that we were very young people and wouldn’t be able to publish a magazine independently at all [1].


Then a man in a strange uniform appeared and looked for Eduard Grosse. But this time it was my grandfather who was meant. It was Peter de Mendelsohn3, dressed in a British uniform, who had worked as a freelance author for my grandfather before 1933. De Mendelsohn brought my grandfather together with Dr. Günter Birkenfeld, who was a well known writer in the Weimar Republic. My father then had to write a letter to a Mr. Bleistein, a copy to a Mr. Stefan Hey4, and outline the plans for a new magazine.

The foundation of the Horizont (Horizon)

In September 1945, the license of the American military government “B 205” came as the first US license for a publication in Berlin. Only then did the Tagesspiegel (one of the reknown German Newspapers) and others receive their licenses. On December 9, the first German free and democratic magazine for young people since 1933 appeared; the weekly Horizont.


Among the authors of Horizont were Wolfgang Borchert, Wolf-Dietrich Schnurre, Wolfgang Mischnik, Inge Euler, Herbert Kundler, Stefan Hermlin, Peter Suhrkamp, Max Pechstein, Albert Schweitzer, Karl Schnoog, Elisabeth Langgässer and many others who turned to the German youth to illuminate their horizon.

Fig. 2: Cover photo of the Horizont at the start of the Berlin airlift in 1948.

In 1983 my father founded a new Horizont, a weekly newspaper for advertising and media. My father was a successful advertising manager for decades, among other things he was the first German after World War II to run an American company listed on the stock exchange: FCB Foote, Cone & Belding, then one of the largest agencies in the world.


As early as the beginning of 1946, my father and other authors began to turn against the leaders of the Central Youth Committees of the Soviet Occupation Zone and Greater Berlin, because they dissolved the non-partisan local youth committees that had grown from below and had partly been set up by members of the Freiheitsbund Höherer Schüler Deutschlands. The answer was a Horizont-Leitartikel of my father “We don’t want state youth! The counter-answer was an article in the Berliner Zeitung of February 1946 written by Erich Honecker and signed with a pseudonym: “I don’t know what it means”.


Already at the FDJ-Pentecost Meeting in Brandenburg in 1946 my father and all other members of the Freiheitsbund Höherer Schüler Deutschlands were uninvited by Erich Honnecker. The further development is known to all.

Fig. 3: Dr. Eduard Grosse IV.


The journal for skin and venereal diseases

A few months after the founding of Horizont, my grandfather received another license to publish a journal. It was the journal for skin and venereal diseases (Zeitschrift für Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten – H+G). The Jewish doctor Erich Langer, a friend of my grandfather’s, had convinced him. Due to the mass rapes of the Red Army – some estimates assume a rape rate of 90% of the female population in Berlin alone – a wave of venereal diseases, partly of unknown nature, broke out over the population. Also, many American GI’s were infected by their German “Fräuleins”, which led the American military government to grant the license to my grandfather. Erich Langer was editor until his death in 1957. He was followed by his closest friend and student Heinz Grimmer(1913 – 1982 – later director of the skin clinic of the Städtische Klinik Wiesbaden) and then Gerd Klaus Steigleder (1925 – , director of the Dept. of Dermatology of the University of Cologne). The journal existed until 2003 and then became the JDDG of the German Dermatological Society – now published at Wiley-Blackwell.

Fig. 4: Dr. Günter Birkenfeld in his office in 1947.


Fig. 5: editorial staff of the magazine H+G 1947.

H+G was the starting shot for my grandfather’s founding of the Berliner Medizinische Verlagsanstalt (Berlin Medical Publishing Company). The publishing house developed into the largest German publiching house with a dermatological focus. After H+G, other magazines were added: Der Deutsche Dermatologe (The German Dermatologist), Mykosen (mycoses) and Andrologia (andrology). From September 1952, the German distribution of the American journal Postgraduate Medicine was taken over. Beside the journals also many important books were published, not only in the field of dermatology.


Kosmetische Medizin – Cosmetic Medicine 1952 – 1967

On April 20, 1952, the first issue of Cosmetic Medicine appeared, at that time still under the title Journal für Medizinische Kosmetik und Sexologie (Journal of Medical Cosmetics and Sexology). I have always wondered why sexology was mentioned in the title. The term refers to the first editor Ludwig L. Lenz (Cairo), whom I will discuss in more detail in the following article.


In 1952, censorship regulations were tightened in Egypt, which made correspondence with Lenz very difficult. Nowadays hardly imaginable, with all the technical achievements of the last decades. The publishing house therefore felt compelled to place the editorial management in the hands of the co-founder of the magazine, Heinrich Karl Mayr (Berlin). Under him, sexology was removed from the title. From 1957 the journal was called Medizinische Kosmetik (Medical Cosmetics) and from 1960 Ästhetische Medizin – Medizinische Kosmetik (Aesthetic Medicine – Medical Cosmetics). Lenz wrote many more articles over the years and remained closely associated with the journal until his death.


It dealt with a whole range of topics that are unimaginable for us today. Issue 1 included “On the Psychology of Matricide” (J. Dück, Innsbruck), “Hypnosis therapy of sexual disorders” (K. Schmitz, Munich) or “Pornography as a therapeutic agent” (Ludwig L. Lenz, Cairo). Also, in the column, questions and answers there were curious: “Is homosexuality curable?” or: “Why does the woman have two breasts?


However, the focus was on topics that we are still interested in today and could hardly be more up-to-date: “When are cleft lip face palate to be operated? (Rudolf Ullick, Vienna) “Obesity and drainage” (K. Fellinger and V. Lachnit, Vienna), “The modern technique of varicose sclerosis” (K. Sigg, Binningen – Switzerland), “Skin padding on the face” (Ernst Eitner, Vienna), “Wrinkle removal on the upper eyelid” (Ludwig L. Lenz, Cairo) and “Sunlight and skin” (F. Asbeck, Lübeck).


The magazine under Theodor Schreus

From 1954 Hans Theodor Schreus (Düsseldorf) and K. Halter (Berlin) took over the editorial management of the magazine. In 1930 Schreus (1892 – 1970) was appointed to the chair of dermatology, venereology and radiology of the Medical Academy Düsseldorf, which he was to hold for thirty years. At the same time, he became director of the skin clinic of the municipal hospitals. From the beginning of the 1920s he devoted himself to the standardization of radiotherapy and physiological-chemical questions. He introduced the salvarsan saturation treatment and from 1942 onwards researched the chlorzinc quick etching of basaliomas [2].


The commitment of Schreus for an “aesthetic medicine” that encompasses the entire human being is a specific feature of the attempted spiritual new beginning in the 1950s. It had grasped the willingness of many doctors to revive reform models from the time before and after the First World War that had been suffocated by National Socialism. It is part of the spirit of a new beginning of the 1950s that new attention was paid to an image of man in its aesthetic wholeness [2].


In 1955 the Deutsche Gesellschaft für die gesamte Ästhetische Medizin und ihre Grenzgebiete (German Society for the Entire Field of Aesthetic Medicine and its border regions) was founded. Thanks to Schreus, the initiator of the society, he made the journal the congress organ of the newly founded society.


After Schreus became seriously ill and the German Society for Aesthetic Medicine as a whole and its border regions were dissolved, the journal had to be discontinued.


Cosmetic Medicine 1995 – 2019

In 1995 Hagen Tronnier approached me with the idea of bringing Aesthetic Medicine back to life. In contrast to foreign countries, dermato-cosmetology in Germany would only be neglected and the established dermatological journals would hardly publish any papers on the subject. Dermatologists were confronted with many questions from patients about new treatment methods in the field of cosmetics, which they often could not answer. New active substances penetrated the market and the treatment with lasers found its way into the practices. Tronnier and his colleague Wolf-Ingo Worretbelieved in the future of this rather new discipline of cosmetology. I agreed, without hesitation, and after convincing my father, we immediately started planning the new journal. Since we wanted to address not only the medical profession, but also medical beauticians who did not only do acne peelings, we gave the magazine instead of the original name Aesthetic Medicine, the name Cosmetic Medicine instead.

Fig. 6: First issue of the relaunched Kosmetische Medizin in 1996.


Fig. 7: First issue of the international issue Cosmetic Medicine in 2015.

With the first edition, Cosmetic Medicine became the organ of the newly founded Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Dermatologische Kosmetologie e.V. in the DDG– ADK (Working Group for Dermatological Cosmetology in the DDG. The editorial board consisted of Max Gloor (Karlsruhe), Friedrich Schiller(Bad Sulza), Hagen Tronnier (Witten-Herdecke) and Wolf-Ingo Worret (Munich) as editor-in-chief.


In his foreword to the first issue, Tronnier wrote: “Given the wealth of information that every doctor today receives, the demands placed on a new journal, if it is to be successful, are very high. It must fill a gap in the subject matter, but at the same time its content must be interesting and important and useful for medical work. It has to meet today’s standards, but at the same time it has to be informative and complementary”. – I think we have remained true to these demands to this day.


After a dispute between Worret and my father, who was still publisher at the time, Worret resigned from his position as editor-in-chief in 2001 and the ADK also resigned from its partnership. It was not easy for us to find a suitable successor for the editor-in-chief. It is not only a time effort to run a magazine, but the person must also be a good writer with good connections and a recognized person in his discipline. In Uwe Wollina (Dresden) we found a worthy successor and working with him is a real pleasure. He was also the one who convinced me to publish an English edition of Cosmetic Medicine, which – as organ of the European Society of Cosmetic and Aesthetic Dermatology and the Cosmetic Dermatology Society of India – is now in its 4th year.


Over the years, we have been able to gain important professional associations for the magazine:

Austrian Society for Dermatological Cosmetics and Age Research (ÖDGKA), Working Group on Aesthetics and Dermatological Institutes (AADI), German Society for Aesthetic Botulinumtoxin Therapy (DGBT), the Network Globalhealth and the Austrian Academy of Cosmetic Surgery and Aesthetic Medicine (AACSM). In future issues we will introduce each individual society to you.


Books of various disciplines

Journals were and are not our only field of activity. The close relationship between publisher and authors allowed us to publish many books and book series that became bestsellers. Through our journal andrologiawe had good contacts with doctors who dealt with the fertility of men and women. Sterility – Diagnosis and Therapy of Endocrine Fertility Disorders in Women by Vaclav Insler and Bruno Lunenfeld was published not only in German, but also in English and Japanese. Psychosomatics of unwanted childlessness by Manfred Stauber, was awarded the Roemer Prizeas the best scientific contribution in the field of psychosomatic medicine in German-speaking countries and was published in 3 editions. The book Thyroid Diseases – Diagnosis and Therapy by Peter Pfannenstiel later with the authors Lothar-Andreas Hotze and Bernhard Saller was the medical book with the highest circulation in the German-speaking countries, which thanks to the company Henning – now Sanofi-Aventis– for buying 10 – 15 thousand copies per year and distributing them free of charge to medical students. This is unthinkable today due to the code of conduct of the pharmaceutical industry introduced more than 10 years ago. Here the pharmaceutical industry should rethink. Many books cannot be published today, because the industry’s hands are tied by its code of conduct and are no longer allowed to finance the high costs of editing and printing.


I could list many more titles, but I think that’s enough, except for the book Anatomy of the face – basics for aesthetic applications by Friedrich Anderhuber and Ulrike Pilsl, which was published this year.

Fig. 8: Book “100 Years Skinclinic Essen.


Fig. 9: Book “Anatomy of the Face (2019).

An artist and the 10 Nobel Laureates of Medicine of the Charité

In 1995 my father, Ferry Ahrlé (*17. Juni 1924 in Frankfurt am Main; † 4. April 2018 ebenda) and I sat in illustrious company in an Italian restaurant in Berlin. Ahrlé, a well-known artist with his own programme on German television, asked my father how many German Nobel Prize winners there were. My father said: “got to Lindau”. Ahrlé had the idea of making portraits of the Nobel Prize winners. He then travelled to Lindau, where the annual Nobel Laureate Meetings are held, and researched the archive. It turned out that 10 Nobel laureates alone had researched at the Charité in Berlin. From this the idea was born, together with the company Berlin Chemie, to publish a calendar with the 10 portraits of the Berlin Nobel Laureates. It was a great success. In 2006, we presented the 10 original portraits to Detlev Ganten, then chairman of the Charité, at a ceremony in the Medical History Museum of the Charité. Today the portraits hang in the hallway of the clinic management.

Fig. 10: Prof.Dr. Barbara Sickmüller (BPI e.v.), Ferry Ahrlé and Dr. Eduard Grosse at the presentation of the 10 Nobel Prize winners to the Charité, 2006.


Fig. 11: Eduard Douglas Grosse V addresses the ceremony of the 10 Nobel Laureates, 2006.

I could add many more stories to this article, but that would go beyond the scope of this issue. A book on family history is in progress and is expected to be published next.


I wish us another 90 years of creative power and that Kosmetische Medizin and Cosmetic Medicine will continue to give you, dear readers, much joy and knowledge.


Address of Correspondence

Douglas Grosse
GMC Gesundheitsmedien und Congress GmbH
Mommsenstr. 30
D-10629 Berlin


1. Interview Michael Schmidt with Dr. Harald Müller (1988).
2. Jung, EG (2005) 30 Jahre Aktuelle Dermatologie – Ein Jubiläumsband. Thieme Verlag. S. 19.



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