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Dr. Hauschka – a brand embodied by two people

Margarethe Hauschka aged 46 (1942).
Photo: Historical company archive of WALA Heilmittel GmbH

Medicine and an appreciation of art ran in the family

It seems as though Margarethe Stavenhagen was born with a passion for medicine, as she was descended from the May family of physicians from Bavaria on her mother’s side. Margarethe’s mother Julie studied voice in Munich, and her father was also very appreciative of art. The Stavenhagen household often hosted concerts and eurythmy courses. Margarethe learned to play piano at a young age and later studied dance.

Studying as a woman – not so easy

Margarethe wanted to study medicine. But in order to do so, she had to overcome several hurdles. The girls’ secondary school that she went to did not give girls the opportunity to sit school-leaving examinations. However, she did manage to take her final exams – at a nearby boys’ school. She enrolled in university in Munich, earned her doctoral degree with a thesis in ophthalmology in 1922, and then worked for some time at her uncle’s clinic.

Following the advice of a colleague, Margarethe studied eurythmy therapy, and in 1927, she joined the Clinical Therapeutic Institute in Arlesheim. This institute, which back then was the first anthroposophic hospital, was managed by doctor Ita Wegman. She taught Margarethe about rhythmical massage as a form of therapy and tasked her with finding a way to harness the visual arts for therapeutic use. Having studied art history as a minor in Munich, Margarethe succeeded in developing a standalone treatment. Doing so allowed her to combine two activities close to her heart: artistic pursuits and working with people.

Medicines, spreads and skin cream

Rudolf Hauschka arrived in Arlesheim two years after Margarethe. He was born in Vienna, where his father ran a galvanising business. After completing his school-leaving examinations, Rudolf studied chemistry and obtained a doctorate (‘Dr. techn.’) in 1914, having written his thesis on anilidoquinone dyes.

Ita Wegman entrusted Rudolf with the development of new medicines. From 1935 onwards, these preparations were sold under the name WALA. However, the chemist was a ‘jack of all trades’ at this relatively small hospital. His prescription books contain countless curiosities. In addition to medications, he regularly produced syrups, salad seasoning, spreads, adhesives, and, of course, skin creams.

Margarethe Hauschka as a 20-year-old medical student in Munich (1916).
Photo: Historical company archive of WALA Heilmittel GmbH
Margarethe Hauschka at work in the hospital (1940s).
Photo: Historical company archive of WALA Heilmittel GmbH
Margarethe and Rudolf Hauschka on holiday at breakfast (1962).
Photo: Historical company archive of WALA Heilmittel GmbH

Margarethe becomes Rudolf’s go-to person – and partner

Rudolf also manufactured paint for use in art therapy in his laboratory, and that is how he met Margarethe. They were both taken with one another – much to the displeasure of their boss, as back then Rudolf was still married to his first wife Marianne. They ultimately divorced, and Marianne moved to England with the children.

Up to that point, Rudolf had always been looking to work closely with Ita Wegman. He even entrusted his first medicinal product laboratory in Ludwigsburg to one of his employees so that he could stay in Arlesheim. But when the Second World War started to wreak havoc in previously peaceful Arlesheim, he followed Margarethe to the Kuranstalt Gnadenwald sanatorium in Tyrol. This was expropriated by the Nazis in June 1941, and Rudolf and Margarethe were arrested by the Gestapo. While they were released four weeks later, they remained under surveillance. Against all the odds, Rudolf and Margarethe married in 1943. After the war, they built up WALA again and moved to Eckwälden in 1950.

Founder of WALA, GAÄD and a school for therapists

Margarethe and Rudolf Hauschka are two of the co-founders of WALA OHG, forerunner of today’s WALA Foundation and WALA Heilmittel GmbH. In her capacity as a doctor for WALA, Margarethe took her mission global and held courses in many places. She taught anthropology and pathology, gave lessons in expressive therapy and rhythmical massage, and in 1958 founded her own school in Boll for this purpose. She also co-founded the Association of Anthroposophic Physicians (today known as GAÄD) in Stuttgart.

A brand name represented by two people

When cosmetics were added to WALA’s range in the 1960s, Rudolf Hauschka’s handwritten signature initially adorned the packaging. Following his death, the inscription ‘Dr. R. Hauschka’ was replaced by typeface – without the ‘R’ – as there was still one Dr. Hauschka who could stand behind the name. In 1976, the trademark was registered in Germany, and the ‘Dr. Hauschka’ trademark has been registered internationally since 1980.

So, even if ‘Dr. Hauschka’ is still mostly associated with Rudolf, it really represents two people. Rudolf and Margarethe shaped the WALA company together, and it gives us joy to keep both their memories alive.