Hans Förstl

An interesting hypothesis from

Franz F. Hefti (2005)

Drug Discovery for Nervous System Diseases, p. 99-100

Ludwig II, Schizophrenia, Bismarck, Holocaust, Disneyland and World Domination

A most intriguing, well-documented, and even entertaining case of a schizophrenic with historical impact is that of Ludwig II, King of Bavaria from 1864 to 1886. Most visitors to Disneyland or Disney World may not be aware that the wonderful Disney castle, now a symbol of the company, is not a copy of a medieval castle. It is a replication of the castle Neuschwanstein in the German State Bavaria, a neo-historical castle built by Ludwig II less than 150 years ago. Theater artists decorated the castle in medieval style. Ludwig became king as a young man and soon developed features strange for his position. He did himself, stayed away from governmental fuctions, abandoned his beautiful fiancee, and gradually withdrew in a dream world of newly built, highly extravagant castles. Lavish parties, sled rides with candle illumination, fantastical discussions with actors filled his world. After many years in formal power, the king was deposed. Despite his disease, he seemed to have understood the events, since he drowned himself three days later in a lake, taking with him the psychiatrist who had justified his deposition. The castles built by Ludwig II are now a major tourist attraction and source of income for the state of Bavaria. From a historical point of view, it is important that Ludwig's extravagant constructions depleted the treasury of the then independent kingdom of Bavaria. He reigned during the foundation of the Second German Empire organized by Bismarck and Prussia. It is believed that Ludwig, whose coffers were empty, accepted money from Bismarck in return for agreeing to merge Bavaria in the new German empire.

Without Bavaria, the German Empire would not have gained superiority over the Austrian Empire, and it would have been too small to start World War I. There would'nt have been World War II with its atrocities and the holocaust. Fantastic psychiatric speculations? Perhaps, but it is captivating to think that the world might look very different now without the schizophrenia of a single man.