Introduction: Werner Ketterl is one of the most successful university teachers of the recent past. Since the 1960s, he has had a lasting influence on the development of university dentistry as a scientist and professional politician. In addition, he was one of the few protagonists of the discipline who dealt with National Socialism in autobiographical memoirs. Against this background, this article focusses on the life and work of the Mainz professor in the Third Reich and the Federal Republic of Germany.
Keywords: tooth preservation, periodontology, Mainz, NSDAP, National Socialism
Material and methods: The central basis of the study are, among others, primary sources from the Federal Archives Berlin and the State Archives Munich as well as Ketterl’s autobiography from 2000. In addition, a comprehensive analysis of professional publications by and about Ketterl was carried out.
Results: Werner Ketterl was probably the most influential specialist representative in the field of Restaurative Dentistry, especially in the 1970s and 1980s – alongside Adolf Kröncke and Rudolf Naujoks. However, he was more clinically oriented in research than the aforementioned colleagues and he also developed a stronger focus on periodontology. In the Third Reich he showed himself to be loyal to the regime. He applied for membership in the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) in the month of his 18th birthday and was accepted three months later. Discussion and
conclusion: Ketterl understood dentistry as a unity of science and professional policy. With this symbiotic approach, he shaped the development and the public perception of dentistry like hardly any other university lecturer of his time – both at the University of Mainz and on a national scale. However, his commitment to the NSDAP is beyond the expected – especially in view of the fact that he concealed his party membership in his memoirs and, moreover, frankly discredited the supporters of National Socialism.