By February of 1842, in his eighty-sixth year, Dr Hahnemann completed the sixth edition of the Organon. He completed the thorough revision of it by carefully going over paragraph by paragraph, making changes, annotations and additions. This sixth edition of the “Organon” ready for publication, was considered as the most nearly perfect of all, by Hahnemann himself. It contained important changes from the 5th edition published in 1833.
Dr Hahnemann shared a lot of facts of this Organon, (esp. regarding the LM potencies) with his fellow practitioners including Dr Boenninghausen, through his letters. Dr Boenninghausen was one of the best friends and followers of Hahnemann.
It is also well known through his letters that Dr Hahnemann made several attempts to publish his Organon in Germany as well as in France but he could not and unfortunately, he passed away in Paris, on 2nd of July of 1843, leaving his second wife Mrs. Melanie Hahnemann as the custodian of his writings.
Just a few years before Hahnemann’s death, Melanie adopted a five-year-old girl named Sophie. In June 1856, Madam Melanie went to Munster, to visit Dr Boenninghausen, where he requested that she publish Hahnemann’s invaluable work. He asked that she let the treasure of the sixth Organon be known to the world for the benefit of the mankind.
During that period Melanie had also undergone a legal trial owing to having a medical practice without any official license. She wanted to have a secure future for herself and her adopted daughter Sophie.
When Sophie grew up, Melanie wanted to marry her off to one of the sons of Boenninghausen – Karl. Karl was a graduate in medicine and thus an authorized practitioner of homeopathy. Dr Boenninghausen was a bit reluctant in the beginning but he later agreed.
Dr Boenninghausen was very excited to know that the sixth Organon would soon be published and that he was about to get some of the hand-made medicines of Hahnemann from Melanie. Boenninghausen happened to share the exciting news with his fellows of Rhineland in a yearly meeting in Westphalia. Without any consent of Boenninghausen the sensational news was published in a famous journal named “Allgemeine Hom. Zeitung” on 29th of August 1856.
This led to a misunderstanding between Melanie and Boenninghausen and she rebuked him for making her statement public. Nevertheless, Sophie and Karl tied the knot in 1857 and started to live with Melanie at her home in Paris. Melanie could achieve all that she wanted to but she did not keep her promise.
After this nothing was heard about the sixth Organon nor did she give any samples of Hahnemann’s medicines to Boenninghausen. Instead she only sent a few unrelated, mismatched pages from the “Sick Registers” of Hahnemann. Boenninghausen was highly ridiculed by his fellows for this and he finally died in 1864 without witnessing the publication of the sixth Organon.
In 1865, Dr Arthur Lutze of Kothen published his Organon (called Lutze’s Organon) with disputed paragraphs that Hahnemann had long discarded. His Organon was highly criticized and the whole homoeopathic profession including those in Europe and America refused to have anything to do with Lutze’s edition of Hahnemann’s Organon.
Around the same time, Amalie’s son and grandson of Hahnemann, Dr Leopold Suss Hahnemann, declared in a famous journal that he was about to publish the sixth Organon. Melanie got enraged and she instantly denied the authenticity of both versions. Also, for the first time, she publicly admitted in writing that she and only she had the complete manuscript of the sixth Organon and thus only she was legally authorized to publish it, and that she was planning to publish it very soon.
In reply to Melanie’s threatening remarks, Dr Leopold wrote in a journal that it was just a matter of a misprint. He was actually about to republish the fifth Organon which had gone out of print, but it was mistakenly printed as the sixth and that he was legally authorised to republish the fifth edition as it was the property of his aunt Louise from whom, now he inherited it.
However, later on Dr. Leopold revealed in the British Journal of Homeopathy (1865, Vol. 23, Page 422) that he had no intention to publish any version of Organon and that he purposely printed it as the sixth instead of fifth. In fact, all he wanted was to excite Melanie so that she would say that she is willing to publish the sixth Organon because she did nothing regarding it for more than twenty years.
The trick did work to a certain extent, because after this episode Melanie started to receive several requests from various homeopaths around the world with a view to publishing the sixth Organon. The famous names among them were of Dr Hering, Dr Dunham, Dr Bayes, Dr Wilson, Dr Campbell, etc.
She demanded the amount of 50,000 dollars regarding the same. In today’s context, in Indian rupees it holds equivalent to 6 crore, 30 lakh rupees! This was a huge amount and obviously nobody could ever pay it for a book.
This is one of the reasons why Dr Richard Haehl, one of the finest biographers of Hahnemann, writes in his famous book – Samuel Hahnemann, His Life and Work, that Mrs. Hahnemann behaved strangely after the death of her husband and that she was completely a business woman.
Eventually, around 1870-71, Karl and Sophie left for Germany due to the Franco-Prussian War and they took with them all literary works of Hahnemann along with the original manuscripts of the sixth Organon for safekeeping. It is known that Melanie also went with them but later on returned and eventually died a few years later on 27th May 1878.
After Melanie Hahnemann’s death, the Boenninghausen family were owners of the treasure. Sophie continued the talks with various homeopaths. Around 1880, she demanded 25,000 dollars and all the royalties of the sixth Organon. In today’s context, in Indian rupees it’s equivalent to 5 crore, 3 lakh rupees! This too was a huge amount for a book and therefore homeopaths now began to lose interest in the Organon.
At last, in 1897, Dr Richard Haehl – a student of Dr T.L. Bradford from the Hahnemann College of Philadelphia, took interest and wanted to publish the sixth Organon. He made several efforts to obtain Hahnemann’s original manuscripts and records for publication.
He was constantly in touch with Sophie through letters and kept negotiating with her. In 1900 he could finally visit Darup, a place near the border of Netherlands, in Germany, where the Boenninghausen family lived.
He learned that Sophie, had died a year before. So, he tried to negotiate with her husband Karl but all in vain and a couple of years later Karl Boenninghausen too died leaving no direct descendants. In 1906, Dr Haehl again travelled with his good friend Professor William Boericke, from San Francisco in North America to Darup in Germany, Europe. They both attempted but failed to obtain the release of the literary legacy, particularly of Hahnemann’s casebooks, and of the sixth edition of the Organon.
Hahnemann’s literary heritage had changed hands several times. From 1914 to 1918, the first world war raging and travelling became almost impossible. Dr Haehl had almost given up hope, when at last he succeeded in obtaining the complete legacy of the master for 1000 dollars.
In today’s context, in Indian rupees it’s the equivalent to 10 lakh 27 thousand rupees. With the financial support of the American homoeopaths, especially William Boericke, the Stuttgart homoeopath – Richard Haehl managed to buy Samuel Hahnemann’s literary heritage (including the manuscript of the sixth Organon) from the Boenninghausen family in 1921.
By Dec. 1921 the English edition translated by William Boericke was published by Boericke and Tafel the next year in 1922. The documents had been held back for almost eighty years, but were at last to become accessible due to the untiring efforts of Dr Richard Haehl and Dr William Boericke.
Twice the manuscripts and casebooks of Hahnemann were in danger of being lost. Once was during the siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and a second time during the First World War. It is the reason we are ever grateful to Drs. Haehl and Boericke.
This year as we are celebrating the 100 years of the publication of the lost treasure – the Sixth Organon, we yet again honor them for their great contribution and relentless dedication towards Homeopathy.
1. The Life and Letters of Dr Samuel Hahnemann- T.L. Bradford, Philadelphia, 1895.
2. Samuel Hahnemann, His Life and Work – Richard Haehl, translated from German by M. Wheeler and W. Grundy (2 vols.), London, 1931.
3. Samuel Hahnemann, His Life and Times – Trevor M. Cook, Northampton, 1981.
4. A Homeopathic Love Story – The story of Samuel and Melanie Hahnemann, Rima Handley, North Atlantic Books Berkeley, California, 1990.
5. In Search of the Later Hahnemann, Rima Handley, Elsevier Publications, India, 1997