ticularly engaged student until he entered medical school at Leiden University, where he found his métier.
By 1937 he had completed the preclinical part of his medical training at Leiden and before proceeding to the clinical years he served for two years as a student assistant in the Anatomy Department. It was there that his interest in neuroanatomy began. He was commencing his clinical rotations in 1940 when the German army occupied the Netherlands. On completing his clinical studies in 1942, he was about to return to an instructorship in anatomy when Leiden University was closed by the occupying authorities on account of its being a hotbed of subversion. He therefore received his qualifying medical degree from the State University of Utrecht and began to work in the Pharmacology Department there. It was at this time that he married Ellie Plaat, another Dutch Indonesian who had been stranded in the Netherlands without resources by the outbreak of war. In order to support herself she had become a nurse. After graduation and until 1946 Walle Nauta was both a practicing physician and a researcher at the University of Utrecht. The war years were periods of great hardship and want for all Dutch citizens. As a physician, Nauta was fortunate in having a permit that enabled him to pass beyond checkpoints and thus treat farmers in the countryside in return for food. But it was still a period of great privation. At one point in the lab, where he had begun studying the effects of hypothalamic lesions on sleep in rats, supplies ran out and the rats had to be fed with milk from Mrs. Nauta, who was at that time nursing their first child. His doctoral thesis was completed and the degree awarded in 1945.
The Nautas, like all the Dutch people, suffered not only hunger but also indignity and sometimes worse at the hands of the occupying forces. Despite these experiences, Walle Nauta never stereotyped individual Germans, and it was typical