Berthold Epstein

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Berthold Epstein (1 April 1897, Pilsen, then part of Austria-Hungary - 1962) was a pediatrician, professor, and scientist and was conscripted as a doctor in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

Early life[edit]

He was 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.[1]

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.[2]

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

In Auschwitz[edit]

Epstein's family died at Auschwitz whilst he was assigned as a camp physician.[2] 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 Jewish Camp in Auschwitz. There, he was assigned to assist Josef Mengele, who conducted experiments on human beings, mostly Jewish children, concerning a possible treatment of noma, a deadly and disfiguring form of malnutrition-induced gangrene. About 3000 people died due to the research, which included infecting healthy test persons deliberately with the disease.[3][4]

Post war[edit]

Epstein remained in the camps and survived the war. He returned to Prague and testified in the Soviet war crimes trials on genocide. He was a chair of the pediatric clinic (1949–1962).[5] He died in 1962.


  1. ^ "Spørreskjema for jøder i Norge, Berthold Epstein" [Questionnaire for Jews in Norway]. Oslo: Riksarkivet. 1942-03-04. 
  2. ^ a b Erlend Hem. "Jødiske pediatere på flukt" (in Norwegian). Tidsskriften for den norsle Lægeforening. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  3. ^ Koren, Yehuda (2004). In Our Hearts We Were Giants: The Remarkable Story of the Lilliput Troupe-A Dwarf Family's Survival of the Holocaust. p. 92. ISBN 0-7867-1365-8. 
  4. ^ Lifton, Robert (1986). THE NAZI DOCTORS: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. pp. 296–297. ISBN 978-0465049042. 
  5. ^ "75 let nemocnice na Bulovce" [75 years of Bulovka Hospital] (in Czech). Prague. 2006.