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Jewish Physicians – Discrimination, Stigmatisation, Expulsion


Dismissals from state service under the “Law on the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” of 7 April 1933, the withdrawal of health insurance accreditation through the ordinance of 22 April 1933, and the complication of conducting private practice were all followed by the announcement of the Fourth Decree to the Reich Citizenship Law on 25 July 1938. This decree promulgated the “License revocation of Jewish physicians” on 30 September 1938, which meant that Jewish physicians could no longer practice medicine in Germany. This procedure was completed on 30 September 1938, ending with the revocation of their licenses. The sign, “Only Jewish patients will be treated here as of 1 October 1938!” documents this last point. It comes from the Jewish Hospital in Berlin, which apparently was visited by Berlin’s entire population and enjoyed high regard.


A visual representation of eugenics and race studies, Alfred Vogel 1938

Sign for the medical practice of Dr. med. Israel Ernst Jacobsohn (bpk / Abraham Pisarek)

In July 1938, among Berlin’s 6,944 physicians, of which there were still 1,561 Jewish physicians (22.4%), there were 816 active Jewish statutory health physicians (27.4%). After the revocation of their medical licenses, only a small number of trained (specialist) physicians were granted permission, revocable at any time, by the Reich Minister of the Interior to “treat the ill.” They were authorised to treat only Jews and their own family members. It is estimated that after 1938 there were only 700 such “persons authorised to treat the ill” in the entire German Reich. Among them were the radiologist Dr. Karola Reitlinger, who was born in 1891 and managed to emigrate from Munich in 1939, and the internist and radiologist Dr. Emil Hirsch, who was born in 1875 and died in Willich-Anrath prison in 1943.


The Reich Physicians’ Leader commented as follows on the results of the expulsion of Jewish physicians: “We can be proud that, as of 1 October 1938, the elimination of Jews from the medical profession is now one-hundred-percent complete. (...) German national comrades shall only be treated in future by German physicians.”


Of the over 50,000 registered physicians throughout the Reich in 1933, about 11.6% were not “of German blood.” In Berlin, where the Association of Statutory Health Physicians (KVD) also imagined a “foreign infiltration of the medical profession” and the “Jewification of medicine”, the proportions were quite different: almost 60% of Berlin’s statutory health physicians were stigmatised as ‘Jews’ in 1933. The high proportion of Jewish (statutory health) physicians can be attributed to several reasons. We must point out that Berlin, as the Reich Capital City, was especially attractive as the headquarters for all (specialised) physicians due to its population density, as was the case for other metropolises as well.


Deportation of Jewish men after the Reich-wide “Night of Broken Glass” pogrom of 10 November 1938 (bpk / Bavarian State Library, Heinrich Hoffmann archive)

“Only Jewish patients will be treated here as of 1 October 1938!”, Elkin, Rivka: “The Jewish Hospital must be preserved!” The Jewish Hospital in Berlin between 1938 and 1945. Edited by the “Freunde des Jüdischen Krankenhauses Berlin e.V.“ Association, Berlin 1993, p. 23


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