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Tuke's account of his visit to La Charité Hospital, Berlin (1853)

Location: Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia

Following his travels in 1853, Daniel Hack Tuke described what he encountered in European asylums in his essay - 'The progressive changes which have taken place since the time of Pinel in the moral management of the insane, and the various contrivances which have been adopted instead of mechanical restraint', published in Rules and list of the present members of the Society for Improving the Condition of the Insane (London : Churchill, 1854). Tuke's description of La Charité appears on pages 45-46.


'I will next speak of Prussia. It is with great regret that I state that the capital of this noble country has not yet provided a separate establishment for the insane. The present building at Berlin forms part of the general hospital - La Charité, and is situated in the city. Rich in magnificent buildings and imposing façades, she yet has sufficient wealth to apply to this necessary object of the public care! In reply to some such remark made to Professor Ideler, he said that the military expenses of the country were so great that little was left to spend upon asylums.* But though Berlin is so miserably behindhand in this respect, Prussia contains recently-built asylums, as well as those of ancient date, which deserve great praise and are well worthy of observation.

* Professor Ideler’s apparently humane character and kind manner towards the patients form a striking contrast to the system of treatment. His application of the douche is positively cruel, and I witnessed it with feelings of indignation and disgust.'

Asylum visited