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Biography

The childhood of a pionner

Maria Buchinger was born on 21 May 1916 in Flensburg (Germany).

Her father, Dr. Otto Buchinger Sr., was a doctor in the German Imperial Navy. At the end of the First World War he fell ill with rheumatic fever and had to retire from service. On the advice of a fellow navy officer, he submitted to a fasting therapy for 21 days, which cured him completely. Convinced by this experience, he dedicated his life to the research and development of therapeutic fasting.

In the years following the First World War, the Buchinger family experienced hard times. The family was increasingly discriminated, both on account of Dr. Otto Buchinger’s medical and political views and the Jewish origins of the father of Else Buchinger, Maria’s mother.

Maria’s upbringing was austere and in harmony with nature. Gradually she developed her unique personality, combining discipline and deep religiousness in a happy symbiosis with a sense of humour, energy, beauty and a lively temperament.

Entrepreneur, contractor and mother

Maria was deeply impressed by her father’s teachings. In 1938, at the age of 22, she became Dr. Buchinger’s personal assistant. She embraced her father’s philosophy and vision to such an extent that she was even able to answer letters in his name.

Her marriage in 1943 to Helmut Wilhelmi injected a new spirit of entrepreneurship into the family. After the end of the Second World War in 1953, Maria and Helmut founded the fasting clinic in Überlingen (Lake Constance, Germany), and 20 years later, in 1973, a second one in Marbella (Andalusia, Spain). At the time, therapeutic fasting was completely unknown in Spain. Both clinics were pioneering achievements of their time.

On the construction site of the Andalusian clinic, surrounded by architects and workers, by plans and construction materials, Maria discovered her talent as a contractor and entrepreneur. From the early 1980s, she was joined by her daughter Jutta and son-in-law Claus Rohrer. In Überlingen, after the early death of Helmut Wilhelmi in 1985, her son Raimund Wilhelmi, daughter Maike Wilhelmi and daughter-in-law Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo took over management of the clinic.

Today, Maria‘s five grandchildren, the fourth generation of the family business, are growing into their new role.

Maria Buchinger, the “Grande Dame of fasting”

Überlingen and Marbella, Maria’s two “flagships”, enabled her to give as many people as possible access to the beneficial effects of therapeutic fasting.

Her commitment was unfailing: she was the elegant hostess who charmed the fasting community; she was the patient and sensitive counsellor, helping patients overcome crises, both existential and related to fasting; she combined discipline and straightforwardness with kindness and understanding; she commanded respect, but was nevertheless approachable and warm-hearted. She enjoyed laughing and making others laugh, she liked to meet people and talk to them, she listened, she comforted, she looked for and found solutions.

 

Her work bore fruit, also in the form of public recognition

In 1995 the German Government presented her with the “Federal Cross of Merit”. In 2003 she was nominated “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Centre for Tourism Initiatives (CIT) of Marbella.

In 2008 the local Rotary Club honoured her achievements with a medal. Maria Buchinger expressed her thanks with an aphorism of her father’s: “You cannot give more than yourself but you should not give less”.

She continued to live her simple way of life close to nature, surrounded by her beloved dogs, her garden, her books and her grand piano. The cheerful composure with which she accepted the limitations of age, her slender silhouette and her upright posture vividly attest to the healing effects of fasting up until old age.

The “Grande Dame of fasting” passed away peacefully on 12 March 2010 in her home in Marbella. She was and will forever remain the soul of Clínica Buchinger.

Maria Buchinger Foundation
info@maria-buchinger-foundation.com

Board of Directors