Hoimar von Ditfurth

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Hoimar von Ditfurth (15 October 1921, Berlin – 1 November 1989) was a German physician and scientific journalist. He was the father of Christian v. Ditfurth, a writer and Jutta Ditfurth, a writer and journalist.

He won many awards in his lifetime including the Adolf Grimme Awards in 1968, the Bambi Prize in 1972 and the Kalinga Prize in 1978.


Hoimar Gerhard Friedrich Ernst von Ditfurth (15.10.1921 -1.11.1989) was a German physician and scientific journalist. Particularly he is known as a TV moderator and writer of popular scientific books.

Hoimar von Ditfurth was born in Berlin on 15. October 1921. He originated from the family of the classical philologist Hans-Otto von Ditfurth, a national conservative Prussian cavalry captain. After his Abitur at the Viktoria-Gymnasium in Potsdam (today Helmholtz-Gymnasium Potsdam) in 1939, he studied medical science, psychology and philosophy at the universities Berlin as well as Hamburg and received a doctor´s degree in 1946.

From 1948 to 1960 he worked at the university hospital Würzburg (at last in the position of an assistant medical director). In 1959 he habilitated at the university Würzburg and became private lecturer in psychiatry and neurology. In 1967 he became an associate professor of the medical faculty at the university Würzburg as well as 1968 at the university Heidelberg.

1960 Ditfurth took a job in the pharmaceutical company C.F. Boehringer Mannheim and there he was the leader of the so-called “Psycho Lab” being responsible for the development and clinical testing of psychotropic drugs.

At the same time he published the magazine n+m (“Naturwissenschaft und Medizin”) from 1964 until 1971. From 1972 the magazine was renamed as “Mannheimer Forum” and was published by Ditfurth until his death. In 1969 he refused the position of an administrator ("I don't want to sacrifice my intellectual independence") and instead of that he became a freelance lecturer, publisher and scientific journalist.

Hoimar von Ditfurth was very successful as an author of popular science books and as a TV moderator (WDR, SFB, SR, ZDF). Courageously he tried to pass over the gap between natural sciences and humanities. An eminent part of his lifework he consecrate himself to fight pseudoscience, creationism and anthropocentrism.

Since 1949 Hoimar von Ditfurth was married with Heilwig von Raven. Together they had four children: Jutta (* 1951), Wolf-Christian (* 1953), Donata-Friederike (* 1956) und York-Alexander (* 1957). Since 1971 he became well-known to a broad audience by making the ZDF series “Querschnitt” (later “Querschnitte”) together with Volker Arzt. In the late 1970s he more and more turned to ecological subjects and became a critic of the western committed belief in progress and economical growth. In the beginning of the 80s he supported "Alliance '90/The Greens" in its selection campaign.

Ditfurth in his book The Origins of Life: Evolution as Creation (1982) wrote that science and theology are compatible. He argued that evolution is a process brought into being through a divine agency and that creation was not an event but is the long term process of evolution. The book opposed religious creationism and was described as similar to the theistic evolutionism of Asa Gray.[1]

His daughter Jutta von Ditfurth was known as a politician, while his son Christian von Ditfurth became important as a historian, journalist and writer. Ditfurth was member of the German PEN-Zentrum.

On 1. November 1989 he died in Freiburg im Breisgau of thyroid cancer and is buried in Staufen.


  • "Die endogene Depression", 1960
  • "Kinder des Weltalls", 1970 ("Children of the Universe")
  • "Im Anfang war der Wasserstoff", 1972
  • "Zusammenhänge", 1974
  • "Dimensionen des Lebens", 1974 (together with Volker Arzt)
  • "Der Geist fiel nicht vom Himmel", 1976
  • "Die Großen - Leben und Leistung der sechshundert bedeutendsten Persönlichkeiten unserer Welt", herausgegeben von Kurt Fassmann unter Mitwirkung von Max Bill, Hoimar von Ditfurth u.a., Kindler Verlag, Zürich 1977
  • "Querschnitt – Dimensionen des Lebens II", 1978 (together with Volker Arzt)
  • "Wir sind nicht nur von dieser Welt", 1981 ("The Origins of Life-Evolution as Creation")
  • "So laßt uns denn ein Apfelbäumchen pflanzen", 1985
  • "Unbegreifliche Realität", 1987
  • "Innenansichten eines Artgenossen", 1989
  • "Das Gespräch", 1992 (Interviewer: Dieter Zilligen), ISBN 3-423-30329-8
  • "Das Erbe des Neandertalers", 1992 (posthumous)
  • "Die Sterne leuchten, auch wenn wir sie nicht sehen", 1994 (posthumous)
  • "Die Wirklichkeit des Homo sapiens", 1995 (posthumous)


  • Die Frau an seiner Seite – Gespräche mit Frauen berühmter Männer, hrsg. v. Helga Märthesheimer. Lübbe Verlag, Bergisch-Gladbach 1988. ISBN 3-404-60195-5 (Gespräch von Carola Benninghoven mit Heilwig von Ditfurth. S. 31-55)
  • Der Gottheit lebendiges Kleid - Evolutionstheorie und Glaube. Franz Kreuzer im Gespräch mit Hoimar von Ditfurth, Kardinal Franz König und Arnold Keyserling. Deuticke Verlag 1982. ISBN 3-7005-4463-4
  • Eckart Löhr: Hoimar von Ditfurth - Aspekte seines Denkens. Eine kritische Einführung in das Denken des Mediziners, Wissenschaftlers und Wissenschaftsjournalisten anlässlich seines 20. Todesjahres. Grin Verlag 2009. ISBN 3-640-26707-9

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