Philipp Schwartz – the forgotten saviour

University honours the founder of the "Notgemeinschaft" with a column

Veröffentlicht am: Montag, 24. November 2014, 11:45 Uhr (016)

FRANKFURT. He was long forgotten: Philipp Schwartz, who saved many scientists who lost their jobs during the national socialism era. Persecuted himself, he narrowly escaped arrest on 23 March 1933 and immediately fled to Zurich. Here the Frankfurt pathology professor founded the "Notgemeinschaft Deutscher Wissenschaftler im Ausland". The university placed a column in front of the main university hospital building in memory of the valiant efforts of the displaced neuropathologist. During the opening of the dedication ceremonies, the Dean of the Faculty of Human Medicine, Prof. Pfeilschifter, called Philipp Schwartz a "shining light in the darkest epoch of German history".

Two contemporary witnesses also took part in the dedication ceremonies: Dr. Susan Ferenz-Schwartz and Kurt Heilbronn. Philipp Schwartz's daughter was moved that "my father received his place at the university and in the history of Frankfurt University after so many years, after almost two generations." Kurt Heilbronn in turn is the son of Prof. Alfred Heilbronn, who the "Notgemeinschaft" sent to the Istanbul University in 1935, where he established the Institute of Pharmacobotanics.

As the consul general of the Republic of Turkey, Ufuk Ekici, emphasised in his welcoming speech, it is a little known fact that between 1933 and 1945 Turkey offered a safe haven to about 300 dismissed German scientists, artists, architects and politicians who worked here for brief or longer periods. The consul general thanked them for their important contributions to shaping modern Turkey. It was Philipp Schwartz who made it all happen. In the summer of 1933, he travelled to Istanbul. In initial negotiations with Turkish government representatives, he already attained the hiring of 30 professors at the University Istanbul which had just opened in 1933; a full seven of them from Frankfurt am Main – a one of a kind group placement of scientist emigrates during the Nazi period.

A card file was established in Zurich under Schwartz's direction. This was the basis for the list with names and information on 1794 dismissed scientists who were registered with the "Notgemeinschaft" in 1937. A bound copy stood in a shelf at the Frankfurt Institute for Neuroscience since the 1980s – until the sociologist and medical historian Dr. Gerald Kreft from the Edinger-Institute at Goethe-Universität started investigating. All of this was completely unknown in Zurich, where Schwartz had founded the "Notgemeinschaft" in the city mansion of his father-in-law Professor Sinai Tschulok. Thus the results of Kreft's research were met with open ears there. In April 2014, the city dedicated a grave of honour to Philipp Schwartz.

The "Notgemeinschaft" was the first contact point for dismissed German professors looking for work abroad. "Its unique knowledge base made it the information centre for all corresponding international aid organisations", Gerald Kreft tells us.

In the late summer of 1933, Schwartz handed management of the "Notgemeinschaft" to the privy council Dr. Fritz Demuth, the persecuted curator of the Berlin School of Commerce. He moved the head office to London at the end of 1935. In 1936 it published the "List of Displaced German Scholars" financed by the Rockefeller Foundation, in order to find new employment opportunities abroad for 1794 scientists. Up until 1945 the "Notgemeinschaft" was involved as an intermediary for over 2600 dismissed persons from Germany, Austria and Bohemia.

In his welcome speech, the director of the Frankfurt Institute of Pathology, Prof. Martin-Leo Hansmann, gave a reminder of the ground-breaking studies on the topic of cerebral birth trauma which Schwartz performed here in the 1920s. After leading the Institute of Pathology in Istanbul for twenty years, in the 1950s Schwartz attempted to return to his former domain in Frankfurt am Main. While he was formally reinstated as professor at the University of Frankfurt in 1957 in the course of the Federal Republic's "Wiedergutmachung", the Faculty of Medicine denied his return as professor "for age reasons alone". Schwartz moved to the USA, where he lead his own research institute at the Warren State Hospital in Pennsylvania, until 1976 as an internationally renowned neuropathologist.

During the dedication ceremony for the Schwartz column, Professor Schubert-Zsilavecz in the position of Vice President of the Goethe-Universität apologised to Schwartz for its behaviour during and after the National Socialism period.

Information: Dr. Gerald Kreft, Edinger Institute, Deutschordenstraße 46, Phone.: (069) 6301-84166, G.Kreft@gmx.net.

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