Prof. Siegwart-Horst Günther - 1925 - †2015
During his lifetime, Prof. Günther felt obliged to help the sick, weak and disadvantaged. He was not prepared to accept injustice and State arbitrariness.
As a young man, he refused to be drawn into the crimes committed by the armed forces (Wehrmacht) during the war at the Eastern front. This led him into contact with opposition groups, and, as a consequence, into the surroundings of the assassination attempt on Hitler on July, 20, 1944, and imprisonment at concentration camp Buchenwald.
The traumatic experience of the war moved him to study medicine, specialising in tropical medicine. As a doctor he was inspired by Albert Schweitzer, and devoted himself to the sick in Lambarene; later, his medical activities took place in Egypt, Syria, Israel and Iraq.
In Iraq, Prof. Günther worked at Baghdad University hospital from 1990 until 1995. In the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, he was confronted by a significant increase of certain cancers, and severe malformations of newborns. His investigations let him to the belief that the use of uranium ammunition by the US was responsible for these health and genetic consequences.
His name, his activities and his findings will be remembered, among others, by Frieder Wagner’s 2004 documentary The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children. In a spectacular and unforgettable move, Prof. Günther smuggled spent uranium ammunition from Iraq to Berlin, where he was consequently imprisoned for the “distribution of radioactive substances” – thus challenging the claims by the authorities that depleted uranium ammunition was harmless and highlighting the disparity between radiation protection standards applicable in peacetime and those in conflict.
The members of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons express their admiration for this upright and truth-searching physician and scientist. We will continue working in respectful memory and in his spirit.