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After 1933: Physicians in the Third Reich

The preface to the first National Socialist edition of the Reich Medical Calendar for Germany in May 1935 heralded the “dawn of a new age” which “ had brought profound changes to the German medical profession.” Of particular significance was the suggestion that work had been “frequently placed in other hands,” a euphemism for the process of discrimination, dismissal, and persecution of undesirable people on the basis of political or “racial” concerns. The addresses of “an estimated 10,000 other physicians” had changed “fundamentally.” A terse supplementary comment noted: “Over 3,000 physicians have been eliminated through death and expatriation.”

Foreword (in: Lautsch, H./Hans Dornedden (eds.): Directory of German Physicians and Medical Institutions. Reich Medical Calendar for Germany, Part II (Vol. 58), Leipzig 1937, p. III)

Waiting room – The emigration service office of the Jewish Relief Association. (bpk / Abraham Pisarek)

It has been possible thus far to identify the names of 165 physicians with radiological training who were discriminated against, deprived of their rights, and persecuted on the basis of their Jewish identity (see the memorial list).

 

Changes in the laws governing public and private health insurance followed, making private practice difficult, until finally, on 25 July 1938, a “License revocation for Jewish physicians” was announced and went into effect on 30 September 1938.

By this date at the latest, these medical professionals had to emigrate from Germany; due to their status as young professionals who had just begun their careers, they had to work as physicians to make a living.

Taking the step towards emigration was a risk for many physicians; in the early days of their exile, they had to deal not only with the loss of social contacts, but also quite often with material losses, as qualifications were not recognised and exams had to be taken again, not to mention the “Tax on Flight from the Reich” that was levied beginning in October 1941.

 

According to the current state of research, there were 77 German radiologists (including four women) who chose to emigrate abroad. Approximately 47 per cent of the total number of physicians who were stigmatised as Jewish were physicians in radiological diagnostics and therapy who emigrated during the National Socialist period.

Radiological examination, 1933. A radiological examination in the Munich hospital on the left bank of the Isar river. (Photo: Scherl / Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo)

 

Excerpt from Lautsch, H./Hans Dornedden (eds.): Directory of German Physicians and Medical Institutions. Reich Medical Calendar for Germany, Part II (Vol. 58), Leipzig 1937, p. 102.

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