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Research Guides@Tufts

Excellence in Exile: German Emigré Physicians at TUSM


This guide has been created to help you learn more about Tufts University's archival materials regarding those physicians who fled Nazi Germany to become distinguished faculty members at Tufts School of Medicine. The materials in this guide pertain to:

  • Alice Ettinger
  • Joseph Igershiemer
  • Gerhard Schmidt
  • Siegfried Thannhauser

This guide contains links to archival materials as well as photographic images that originally appeared in the Tufts Medical Alumni Bulletin. Full-text of articles that have appeared in Tufts publications may be obtained via the Hirsh Health Sciences Library. These materials appear courtesy of Tufts University.  

About German Emigré Physicians at Tufts

"Before the Nazis seized power in the early months of 1933, Germany was at the forefront of science and medicine, and Jewish scientists and physicians, who contributed prominently to that status, seemed secure in their professional careers and, to a large extent, in their personal lives. As primary targets of Hitler’s onslaught, however, Jews soon found their world and assumptions turned upside down. By April of that year, nearly all were dismissed from academic and civil service positions. Though the magnitude of the coming disaster was still unimaginable even during increasingly harsh persecution of the next several years, many Jews and anti-Nazi non-Jews came to realize that they could not continue to live in Germany. With growing desperation, they sought paths to survival and renewed careers elsewhere." [1]

A group of "exceptionally talented researchers and physicians helped raise the fledging New England Medical Center - and with it  Tufts Medical School - to new emninence.” [2] These physicians "came to Boston because of their friendship with [Boston Dispenary Chief of Medicine] Dr. [Joseph] Pratt, joining what later became known as the German scientific brain drain." [2].

These "distinguished physicians-in-exile included Dr. Alice Ettinger, a young German radiologist who...went on to become chief of radiology at [New England Medical Center]; internationally known internist Dr. Heinz Magendantz; Dr. Alfred Hauptmann, who had been director of the Neuropsychiatric Clinic at University of Halle; ophthalmologist Dr. Joseph Igershiemer; internist Dr. Jacob Schloss; Dr. Heinrich Brugsch, later medica director of the Prudential Insurance Co.; pioneering diabetic researcher Dr. Martin Northman...Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, former head of the biochemistry department at the University of Frankfurt" [1] and Dr. Siegfried Thannhauser, who was responisble for research on the  "fundamental work of protein metabolism, nucleic acids, uric acids, uric acid metabolism, cholesterol and phospholipids, and much more." [3].


[1] Stollar, DB. "A Way Out of Germany: During Hitler’s rise, the Tufts medical community offered refugee physicians a new life." Tufts Magazine. Winter 2014. Available at: .

[2] Morgan, B. "German Brain Drain." Tufts Medicine. Spring 2001; 60:34.

[3] Heilmeyer, L. "Never Equaled." Tufts Medicine. Spring 2001; 60:32.

Image credit: Tufts University

Guide Author

Amy E. LaVertu, MLS

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Project Funding

This project is funded the National Network of Libraries of Medicine New England Region (NN/LM NER)  Express Library Digitization Award.