Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Röntgen’s birthplace

Arpan K. Banerjee
Solihull, United Kingdom

Röntgen’s birthplace. Photo by Markus Schweiss on Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 3.0

November 8th is World Radiology Day and celebrates the discovery of X-rays by Röntgen, who was a fifty-year-old relatively unknown physics professor at the University of Wurzburg in 1895 when he made his important discovery.  

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born on 11 March 1845 in the house shown in the town of Lennep, today a part of the city of Remscheid in the Northern Rhine Westphalia region of Germany. At the time of Röntgen’s birth the town was the center of the wool industry in Germany. Lennep had a population of around 6,000 inhabitants in the mid nineteenth century (today Remscheid Lennep has a population of around 100,000 people). Röntgen’s father, Friedrich Röntgen, was a prosperous cloth merchant. The family (Röntgen was an only child) lived here for three years when they moved to Appeldorn in Holland (Röntgen’s mother was of Dutch origin). 

Today the house is looked after by the German Röntgen Society. The ground floor has exhibits of Röntgen’s manuscripts and certificates. The upstairs is a flat which can be rented for short stays. 200 yards from the house is the German Röntgen Museum, opened in 1932 to commemorate and celebrate Röntgen’s life and achievements. 

DR. ARPAN K. BANERJEE qualified in medicine at St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School. London. He was a consultant radiologist in Birmingham 1995–2019. He was President of the radiology section of the RSM 2005–2007 and on the scientific committee of the Royal College of Radiologists 2012–2016. He was Chairman of the British Society for the History of Radiology 2012–2017. He is Chairman of ISHRAD. He is author/co-author of papers on a variety of clinical, radiological, and medical historical topics and seven books, including Classic Papers in Modern Diagnostic Radiology (2005) and The History of Radiology (OUP 2013).

Fall 2023



4 responses

  1. Dear Dr. Banrjee, What an interesting article. As a non-MD I would have appreciated something about how Dr. Rontgen made this discovery. What ever possessed him to find this miraculous invention? This would make an interesting next article. Thanks, Dr. Mandy

  2. Rontgen’s discovery of X-rays has had a great impact in medicine. He has saved countless of lives.

  3. Thanks Arpan. Excellent information in a nutshell.
    Rontgen’s discovery paved the way for many things today that would have been unimaginable.
    Glad that we celebrate this day.

  4. Thank you for the interesting facts and the picture of Wilhelm Röntgen. If possible it would be nice if you could spell his name correctly which is with an Ö, a so-called Umlaut.

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