Jewish Physicians and Their Patients: Rescue Strategies in Nazi Occupied Poland

Natalia Aleksiun, Professor of Modern Jewish History, Touro College / Incoming Harry Rich Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Florida-Gainesville

Holocaust Memorial Lecture 2021

Natalia Aleksiun

The relationships between Jewish physicians, non-Jewish medical professionals and patients offer a window into rescue efforts in Nazi-occupied Poland. Jewish testimonies, diaries, memoirs and witness statements in postwar trials tell a story of how communities came together to organize hiding places and aid for Jewish doctors who were threatened by violence and murder. In the lecture, Prof. Aleksiun will discuss how pre-existing professional relationships, a sense of gratitude for medical services rendered in the past and an ongoing need for Jewish physicians’ expertise laid the foundation for a network of support that allowed Jewish physicians to continue to work in the face of the Holocaust and — in the case of some — survive.

About the speaker

Natalia Aleksiun, professor of modern Jewish history at Touro College, is the incoming Harry Rich Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Florida-Gainesville. She studied Polish and Jewish history at the Warsaw University, the Graduate School of Social Studies in Warsaw and Hebrew University in Jerusalem and New York University. She received her doctorates from Warsaw University and New York University. She is the author of Where To? The Zionist Movement in Poland, 1944–1950 (Warsaw, 2002), co-editor of several volumes, including Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, vol. 29: Writing Jewish History in Eastern Europe (2017), and European Holocaust Studies, vol. 3: Places, Spaces and Voids in the Holocaust. She is co-editor of East European Jewish Affairs. In 2019, she published a critical edition of Gerszon Taffet’s Destruction of Żółkiew Jews. Her most recent book, Conscious History: Polish Jewish Historians before the Holocaust, was published in 2021 with Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. She is currently working on a book about the so-called cadaver affair at European universities in the 1920s and 1930s and on a project dealing with daily lives of Jews in hiding in Galicia during the Holocaust.

Read more about the history of Washington University’s Holocaust Memorial Lecture here.