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Berthold Epstein - Biography

Berthold Epstein (1 April 1897 in Plzeň - 1962) was a Czechoslovakian pediatrician, professor, and scientist who worked as a doctor in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

Early life

Born into a Jewish family. He rose to become professor and director at a Kinderklinik ("Children's Clinic") affiliated with the German Hospital in Prague prior to World War II. He was married to Ottilie née Eckstein.

He travelled to Norway on March 15, 1940 and was accepted on the recommendation of the Norwegian pediatric association, one of the few physician refugees who was licensed to practice medicine in Norway. As it turned out, he arrived just before the German invasion on April 9, 1940. He was encouraged to apply for the position as the head of the pediatric clinic at Rikshospitalet, but the Nazi persecution of Jews put an end to such ambitions.

Instead, Dr. Epstein conducted research on tuberculosis until he was arrested on October 27, 1942 and deported on the D/S Donau on November 26 the same year.

In Auschwitz

Epstein's family died at Auschwitz whilst he was assigned as a camp physician. Several efforts were made—among others by Prince Carl of Sweden—to liberate him from the camp, but he was not allowed to leave.

Dr. Epstein was assigned to the Gypsy Camp in Auschwitz, where he and Josef Mengele conducted research on treating noma, a deadly form of malnutrition-induced gangrene, among Gypsy children, and made useful discoveries in the causes and treatment of the illness.

Post war

Epstein remained in the camps and survived the war. He returned to his native Prague and testified in the Soviet war crimes trials on genocide. During communism he was a chair of the pediatric clinic (1949–1962). He died in 1962.







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