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Dr. Josef Bausch-Hölterhoff

Government Director of Medicine at Werl Prison and actor

Dr Josef Bausch-Hölterhoff, also known as Joe Bausch, studied first dramatics, politics and German studies in Cologne, then law in Cologne and Marburg. He was also involved in various theatre projects at that time. He studied medicine at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum from 1978 to 1985. Today, Dr Bausch-Hölterhoff is in charge of the medical department at Werl Prison. Since 1997 he has appeared in more than 20 episodes of the WDR crime series "Tatort", set in Cologne, alongside Klaus J. Behrendt and Dietmar Bär, playing pathologist Dr Josef Roth, and is a consultant for the Münster show in medical questions. He has also appeared in other productions and writes scripts.

One thing that connects me to Bochum University is that I still have a library pass.

RUB Alumni: What were your reasons for deciding to study in Bochum?

Dr. Bausch-Hölterhoff: To be honest, I didn't actually choose Bochum myself. I was a victim of the Kinderlandverschickung (reference to children being sent away from cities to the country during WW II) of the ZVS (Zentralstelle für die Vergabe von Studienplätzen – Central Authority for University Place Allocation). But then Bochum chose me. I was shocked when I first went to the Ruhr-University. That was from Witten-Herbede, and I will never forget it as long as I live. I approached the university via Kalwes and the first look - the technical college wasn't there yet then - there was the university, exposed on this flat land. I will never forget this impression and I would have preferred to turn around on the spot. I came from Marburg and I just thought: "You've got to get out of here again as quickly as possible." I also lived in Witten-Heven at first and told the people I met in the village pub I was on a job working on Kemnade, which was being built at the time, as an excavator driver.

RUB Alumni: When you think back to your time as a student in Bochum, can you think of a nice anecdote or story?

Dr. Bausch-Hölterhoff: We had a wonderful professor that I can remember very vividly. He described himself as the last fossil of the hippie culture; he was outstanding academically and a wonderful teacher. He conducted research with some Israeli colleagues into the effects of THC. At that time, this was only happening in Bochum, Israel and America. And he was the only one who conducted experiments on students with THC, taken as samples from stocks that had been confiscated by the Bochum police. And it was also the case at the time that you would meet many professors at the University-Center and had very personal, direct contact to them, just as I knew it from Marburg. The end of the seventies was bonkers at the University-Center and we were right in the thick of it.

RUB Alumni: So with your professor it was like "Spliffs for Science“...

Dr. Bausch-Hölterhoff: And that made him extremely popular with us.

RUB Alumni: If you could sum up your university time in a few words, how would you do it?

Dr. Bausch-Hölterhoff: Lots of breadth, not much depth!

RUB Alumni: How long did it take you to find your way around the campus with confidence, in particular within the buildings?

Dr. Bausch-Hölterhoff: I had an advantage: I lived with a fellow student who was writing his final thesis in psychology in parallel to his degree in medicine. We had to drum up subjects from the whole university and persuade them to join in, and that alone was good for familiarising myself with the place. In addition to that, we medical students had to orientate ourselves faster because we had courses with the chemists, physicists and psychologists, and that forced us to familiarise ourselves with the meanderings of the labyrinth at a relatively early stage. That may have taken two or three semesters, but then we had it behind us. We were looking for as long as the Vorklinik (the first two-year course of doctors’ training) lasted.

RUB Alumni: Have you still got objects from your university days in your possession today?

Dr. Bausch-Hölterhoff: If I looked carefully enough, I'm sure I would still find my Studienbuch (book in which the courses one has attended are entered). But I know for certain that my student pass is in Afghanistan. An Afghan policeman once asked me for my driving licence and I thought there was no way I was going to give this man my original driving licence. Then I gave him my Bochum University student pass - it had a photo on it and a large stamp. The Afghan Police loved this 'driving licence' and promptly decided to keep hold of it. Somewhere, an Afghan has been walking around with my Bochum student pass for the last 28 years.

RUB Alumni: What do you miss most when you think back to your time here in Bochum?

Dr. Bausch-Hölterhoff: Everything was so much more fun than today. Of course studying is more fun than a job, I think most people will agree. But the everyday, animated, lively communication and all those other things - the student pubs, the theatre, the nocturnal discussions - I really miss all those things. When you go into professional life you're always in danger of getting tunnel vision sooner or later. But I do try to prevent this with my other activities.

RUB Alumni: Do you still have any connection to Bochum and the university today?

Dr. Bausch-Hölterhoff: One thing that connects me to Bochum University is that I still have a library pass. If I'm looking for something I can't find on the internet then I go to Bochum, I'm conservative in that way. But I must admit that I needed some considerable time to orientate myself last time I went, because the microfiche was gone and I had to familiarise myself with the computer. Bochum is, after all, still my university. I don't live very far away and I still actually lived in Bochum until six years ago. So in that respect, Bochum is still the focal point of my academic activities.

RUB Alumni: Since you are still working as a medic, there is probably a strong connection between your studies and your current profession…

Dr. Bausch-Hölterhoff: Most definitely. If there are continuing education programmes or courses going on and I see that they are taking place in Bochum, then I especially like going. Even though I didn’t want to stay here at the beginning, I then discovered the Ruhr for myself. I have spent the longest time of my life so far living and working either in or in the region of Bochum. If I were offered an appropriate job I would go back there tomorrow.

RUB Alumni: If you had the chance to study again would you study in Bochum again?

Dr. Bausch-Hölterhoff: Of course! No doubt about it! From total horror to a great love! I really have to say that. It also has something to do with the people in the region. The people here are very straightforward, and I like that. Bochum is also part of a big region that still has so much to offer that fascinates me. But the Bochum model for university hospitals was also trend-setting at the time. That definitely did our courses a lot of good.

RUB Alumni: What advice or tips would you have for today’s students at Bochum?

Dr. Bausch-Hölterhoff: Keep going and do it better! Everything else sounds like smart-arsed advice. When I was in Cologne – I decided against doing it in Bochum – I did counselling for first-years just starting out. I was in my fourth semester at the time and had to explain to those in their first how the world is run. I hated this smart-arsed schoolboy stuff even at the time! I’d just tell anyone: “Do what you like doing best and not what looks safest!” or as a quintessence: “There’s a path that only you can go down! Don’t ask where it’ll take you, just take it!”

RUB Alumni: Thank you for talking to us.