Victims Congratulate Prof. Hans-Joachim Woitowitz 

by Dr. Evelyn Glensk, Member of the Federal Executive of the German Asbestos Victims' Groups



“The art of medicine has its roots in the heart. If your heart is false, then the doctor in you is false. If it is fair, then also the doctor is fair.” (Paracelsus)

“Love is the highest reason” (Der hchste Grund ist die Liebe) is written on the back of the Paracelsus Medal, which Prof. Hans-Joachim Woitowitz received from the German Medical Association at their annual assembly in May 2013. It is the highest award they have to offer. Prof. Woitowitz is the first occupational physician upon whom this prestigious award has been bestowed.

The philosophy of the quote cited above informed his attitude as a scientist and doctor throughout his life, he told me when we recently met at the annual meeting of German asbestos victims associations. Deeply touched by the fate of asbestos victims, of the people exposed to deadly health hazards at work, for decades he has fought against asbestos and for justice for the injured as an expert in court, as a scientist, as an administrator and as a policy maker. The cruel fate of a suffering mesothelioma patient or of a family that has lost a father, mother, or child (in one case all three) because of asbestos, has empowered him in his passionate fight against a philosophy which trades health for profit.

German accident insurance denies the majority of claims brought by asbestos victims for compensation because the authorities require that victims supply proof of asbestos exposure, which is often unobtainable due to the long latency periods of asbestos-related diseases. Furthermore, administrators of the German accident insurance often use discredited and/or controversial arguments to reject claims.

Prof. Woitowitz gives advice to the asbestos victims' group and information on medical and social topics; he attends periodic meetings and provides supports as far as he can. His contribution to the asbestos victim's campaign is exemplary to the highest degree. On behalf of all German Asbestos Victims' Groups, I express profound gratitude for his commitment and his tireless work for the victims of the asbestos disaster. Prof. Hans-Joachim Woitowitz is a most worthy recipient of the Paracelsus Medal.


Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Woitowitz (in the middle, first line) among asbestos victims and German anti-asbestos activists during a workshop in Hamburg in 2013 June 24th.At this national meeting with 50 participants, judicial and medical questions regarding compensation claims were discussed and the campaign “Europe asbestos free in 2023” was presented.

July 10, 2013



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