Goebbels´ clubfoot: a case of osteomyelitis?

  • Victor Asensi
  • Philippe Charlier
  • Donatella Lippi
  • Jean-Claude Brisard
  • Otto Appenzeller
  • Raffaella BianucciEmail author
CE - Research Letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

Clubfoot ( talipes equinovarus) is a common congenital defect, present in 1–2/1000 deliveries. It is mostly due to a genetic defect or to intrauterine damage induced by maternal smoking, diabetes or breech presentation [ 1]. Occasionally, clubfoot has been reported due to a leg trauma damaging the peroneal nerve or to osteomyelitis [ 2]. Clubfoot description is present in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and it is graphically represented in Ribera´s and Murillo´s paintings. Famous clubfoot bearers were Roman Emperor Claudius, British writers George Gordon Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott, Napoleon’s Foreign Minister, Claude Maurice de Talleyrand, and Joseph Goebbels (1897–1945), Minister of Propaganda of the Third Reich, whose clubfoot was nicknamed the “Devil`s hoof” [ 3]. Goebbels’ handicap was surrounded by mystery, as he tried to conceal it in every way possible. However, at autopsy, Soviet physicians confirmed that Goebbels had a right clubfoot: the right foot sole is twisted...



We are grateful to Dr Joshua Fierer, Division of Infectious Diseases, Veterans Affairs, San Diego Healthcare System and University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, California, USA for his helpful comments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Statement on human and animal rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent



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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Medicina Interna (SIMI) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Infectious Diseases UnitHospital Universitario Central de Asturias, Oviedo University School of MedicineOviedoSpain
  2. 2.Section of Medical and Forensic Anthropology (UVSQ& EA4498 DANTE Laboratory)UFR of Health SciencesMontigny-Le-BretonneuxFrance
  3. 3.Musée du Quai BranlyParisFrance
  4. 4.Department of Experimental and Clinical MedicineUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  5. 5.EGOParisFrance
  6. 6.New Mexico Health Enhancement and Marathon Clinics Research FoundationAlbuquerqueUSA
  7. 7.New Mexico Museum of Natural History and ScienceAlbuquerqueUSA
  8. 8.Legal Medicine Section, Department of Public Health and Paediatric SciencesUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  9. 9.Warwick Medical School, Biomedical SciencesUniversity of WarwickWarwickUK
  10. 10.UMR 7268, Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Bio-culturelle, Droit, Etique & Santé (Adés), Faculté de Médecine de MarseilleMarseilleFrance

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