“Forgotten” Chapters in the History of Transcervical Sterilization: Carl Clauberg and Hans-Joachim Lindemann


Transcervical sterilization is a non-surgical method of permanent female sterilization that is widely used and critically discussed. A review of the historiography of the method reveals that instances of its coercive use are not included in the historical account. This study offers a reexamination of the work of Carl Clauberg and Hans-Joachim Lindemann, to more deeply contextualize within the framework of current usage the coercive use of transcervical sterilization during the Third Reich and in post-war Germany. This inquiry is based on postwar criminal trial records on Clauberg, and on archival documents detailing Lindemann’s activities in 1979. A comparative analysis examines arguments by medical historian Karl-Heinz Roth, and identifies shared characteristics and differences between Clauberg and Lindemann, their methods and scientific connections. The results demonstrate that the technique of transcervical sterilization has an abusive potential that may be explained as a function of the person of the physician, of the scientific method itself, and of societal and political influences. The analysis supports the argument that insights from the cases of Clauberg and Lindemann are transferrable geographically and over time, and have the potential to inform current medical practice, such as transcervical sterilization with the Essure device, whose historiographic exploration remains a desideratum.