Goliborska-Gołąb Teodozja

Teodozja Goliborska-Gołąb - Personal data
Date of birth: 19th October 1899
Place of birth: Warszawa
Date of death: 4th June 1992
Place of death:
Occupation: medical doctor, head of laboratory at the Bersohns and Baumans Children Hospital in Warsaw
Related towns: Warsaw

Goliborska-Gołąb Teodozja (19.10.1899, Warsaw - 04.06.1992, Melbourne) - medical doctor, head of laboratory at the Bersohns and Baumans Children Hospital in Warsaw, co-author of research on hunger in the ghetto, member of the Jewish Combat Organisation (ŻOB).

Teodozja Goliborska was born into an assimilated Jewish family, the daughter of Saul Chaim Goliborski (died 1915) and Chaja Basia, née Ajzenberg. In 1926, she graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Warsaw. Initially, specialising in internal medicine, she qualified in 1928 in bacteriology and medical analytics[1.1].

Marek Edelman recalled that Dr. Goliborska collaborated with Prof. Hirszfeld. She was particularly well-versed in blood groups and subgroups. She was friends with Henryk Woliński and 'the whole creme de la creme of the Democratic Alliance party' [1.2].

She met her husband, Dr. Władysław Gołąb (1899-1940), at a party in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Kotarbiński. He was an Emergency Service doctor at the time. After their marriage, they settled in a flat at ul. Kredytowa 2/4, where they ran a private analytical laboratory. At the same time, Dr. Goliborska  headed the analytic laboratory in the Bersohns and Baumans Children Hospital.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Dr. Władysław Gołąb - an army reserve 2nd Lieutenant - was called up for military service with an assignment in the reserves of the 4th District Hospital in Łódź. He did not return after the end of the defensive campaign and, in September 1939. Dr. Goliborska had already taken up residence  within the children's hospital at ul. Sienna 60. After the gates of the Jewish quarter were closed in 1940, the Bersohns and Baumans Hospital found itself in the “little ghetto”. Initially, it operated almost unhindered, but soon the situation changed tremendously. Adina Blady-Szwajgier (pediatrician) recalled: 'There were more and more children in the hospital, who were suffering from scabies, pediculosis and fungal infections. There were more and more children who were emaciated by hunger, with adult eyes, and more and more [cases of] tuberculosis'[1.3].

In the spring of 1941, during the peak of typhus epidemic cases, children were lying in two or even three in a single bed. The facility was unable to admit any more patients, despite an order to place every typhoid patient in a hospital. The situation of the patients did not improve in October 1941, after the opening of a branch of the hospital at ul. Żelazna 88 (now ul. Leszno 80/82). The infectious diseases and famine were ubiquitous.  

In November 1941, Dr. Izrael Milejkowski, in consultation with the president of the Judenrat, Eng. Adam Czerniaków, set up an Organising Commission to prepare research on the effects of hunger on the human body. It consisted of Dr. Izrael Milejkowski, Dr. Anna Braude-Hellerowa, Dr. Józef Stein, Dr. Emil Apfelbaum, and Dr. Julian Fliederbaum. The research began in February 1942. Observations of the children were carried out at the Bersohns and Baumans Hospital. Dr. Izrael Rotbalsam, a paediatrician, described the circumstances surrounding the start of research into hunger as follows:

'The idea of writing a paper entitled Hunger was met with a favourable reception by the head of the Jewish Community Health Department, Dr. I. Milejkowski and a representative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (commonly referred to as 'Joint'), Director Guzik. The Joint subsidised this work. The idea of the study was warily welcomed by Prof. Orłowski, head of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Warsaw. Supporting materials for starting and continuing the study, including chemicals, apparatus, etc., were partly purchased and partly obtained through the Jewish Community Health Department and the Joint.

In the [children's] hospital, we created a special ward, where research on hunger was carried out. Children, who were treated in this unit, received a complete diet. We received funds for this purpose from the Joint and by way of social aid, which I will discuss further. Unfortunately, these children could not have been saved - even those who improved their condition and were healed to some extent, ultimately returned to the ghetto, where they began to fall ill again. We had juvenile patients, who returned to the hospital several times and eventually died"[1.4].

Dr Goliborska, who was head of the analytical laboratory, was tasked with investigating the change in blood morphology in starving children. She also conducted research into metabolism and hypothyroidism in long-term starvation. The preliminary results of the research were revealed in the presence of the President of the Jewish Council, Adam Czerniaków, on 6th July 1942. Present at the meeting were Dr. Emil Apfelbaum, Dr. Julian Fliederbaum, Dr. Anna Braude-Hellerowa, Dr. Mieczysław Kocen, Dr. Józef Stein and Dr. Teodozja Goliborska.

'Dr. Milejkowski, in his introductory speech, characterised the aims of the work and emphasised its importance. Dr. Fliederbaum reported on his team's findings. Dr Apfelbaum presented the cardiovascular functional findings. Doctors Braude-Hellerowa, Stein, Goliborska and Kocen also provided their input. The discussion emphasised the importance of this work from not only a scientific, but also a social point of view."[1.5].

The last meeting was held in August 1942[1.6]. The typescripts were still being prepared until April 1943 in a building in the Jewish cemetery and then, according to Dr. Izrael Rotbalsam, one of them was handed over to the son-in-law of Dr. Izrael Milejkowski, lawyer Galecki (or Galewski)[1.7]. Meanwhile, Dr. Goliborska reported that the collected typescripts were to be buried in the Jewish cemetery. It is not known what happened to the first copy that has never been found. The second copy was handed over to Prof. Witold Orłowski.

According to Leonard Tushnet, the typescript, along with an editorial letter, was picked up by an unknown woman, who delivered them to Prof. Orłowski[1.8]. While the paper was still being written, the professor reviewed its content[1.9]. The professor's son, Tadeusz Orłowski, a student in the secret medicine courses during the occupation, also played a part in saving the typescript and, on his father's instructions, he buried the typescript in the grounds of the Infant Jesus Hospital. He found it there, not without difficulty, after the war, when Dr. Emil Apfelbaum came to collect his paper[1.10].

Read more about the research on diseases from hunger in the Warsaw Ghetto

Dr. Goliborska left for the “Aryan side” in the second half of 1942. She was a liaison officer of the Jewish Combat Organisation (ŻOB). She rented a room in the flat of Mr. and Mrs. Gliński where, as Marek Edelman recalled, the first meetings were held with representatives of the Government Delegation and with Henryk Woliński, the head of the Jewish desk at the Home Army Headquarters' Bureau of Information and Propaganda, through whom the first report on the January 1943 operation was sent to London[1.11].

Marek Edelman recalled that Dr. Goliborska saved Woliński when he was arrested, paying a ransom for him to get out of the hands of the Gestapo[1.12].

After the capitulation of the Warsaw Uprising, she and a group of Jewish fighters hid in a bunker at ul. Promyka 43 in the Żoliborz district. Basia Temkin-Bermanowa recalled that Dr. Goliborska had lived there before, while Marek Edelman was not sure how she ended up in the bunker with the fighters. He recalled that 'Somehow she found out where they were and she stayed with them for good[1.13].

Initially, fifteen people hid in a primitive hiding place in the basement, with five of them soon moving elsewhere. Despite being urged to evacuate, in the building above the hiding place, four elderly women lived who, whenever the Germans appeared, said that 'there are only four old women here, including one paralysed, another with a sick heart, and that they have permission from the 4th Company[1.14].

Despite the relative safety, the situation became difficult when food and water supplies ran out. To survive, they had to search for water and food at night in the cellars of nearby houses. After a few days, one of the old women went out in search of water, accompanied by Lodzia Borkowska-Zylbersztajn, who was hiding in the cellar. They were spotted by a German patrol and transported to ul. Ogrodowa. Thankfully, from there, they were allowed to go to Włochy,  a town near Warsaw. Lodzia unsuccessfully sought help to get the fighters out of Żoliborz. Knowing nothing about her fate, they decided to send Zofia Frydman and Maria [Bronka] Feinmesser for help[1.15]. Memoirs of Józef Żyłkiewicz (Kazimierz Syłkiewicz), AJHI Ref. 302/199]]. They managed to reach the transit camp in Pruszków, where they met Dr. Anna Margolisowa, who was working as a nurse.

They decided to get help from the director of the Red Cross Hospital at Boernerowo, Dr. Stanisław Śwital (pseud. Wronowski) with Alina Margolisowa acting as a liaison[1.16]. Dr. Śwital organised a rescue expedition that included Kazimierz Syłkiewicz (real name Józef Żyłkiewicz), his wife Maria (a medical student), Barbara Kinkiel, Zbigniew Ściwiarski, Janusz Osęka, and Alina Margolis. Help arrived on 15th November[1.17]. Among the fighters led out of the basement were Dr. Teodozja Goliborska, Marek Edelman, Icchak Cukierman, Cywia Lubetkin, Tuwie Borzykowski, Julian Fiszgrund, and Zygmunt Warman.

For some time after the end of the war, Dr. Goliborska lived with Dr. Aleksy Woźniewski in the village of Jelonki. Two years later, she emigrated to Australia. She settled in Melbourne, where she worked as a doctor. She corresponded with, among others, Marek Edelman and visited Henryk Woliński. Asked by Edelman whether the research was useful to her later as a doctor, she wrote back that 'all the people she treated in Australia were satiated and even overfed'[1.18].

She died on 4th June 1992 in Melbourne. There are two plaques dedicated to her in the Jewish cemetery on ul. Okopowa in Warsaw. Dr. Władysław Gołąb never returned. He was murdered in Kharkiv[1.19].


Maria Ciesielska, MD, PhD hab.

Academic papers:

  • Landau, A., Goliborska, T., Markson, M. 1930.  Przypadek czerwienicy leczony fenilhydrazyną z oznaczeniem ilości krążące, [in:] 'Medycyna Warszawska', year VII, No.No. 14, pp. 469-470.
  • Landau, A., Goliborska, T., Markson, M. 1930. Przypadek czerwienicy Vaqueza leczony fenilhydrazyną z oznaczeniem ilości krwi krążącej,[in:] 'Medycyna Warszawska', nr 36, pp. 824-826
  • Goliborska, T. 1932. O wykrywaniu prątków gruźliczych we krwi ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem poglądów Löwensteina, [in:] 'Warszawskie Czasopismo Lekarskie', No. 12-13, pp. 294-300
  • Goliborska T. 1932, Przypadek zapalenia opon mózgowych wywołanych przez enterokoki, [in:] 'Warszawskie Czasopismo Lekarskie', No. 51, pp. 1178−1180
  • Goliborska, T., Przesmycki, F. 1932. Badanie zakażenia pneumokokowego w wieku dziecięcym,'Polska Gazeta Lekarska', No. 45, pp. 817−821
  • Goliborska, T., Przesmycki, F., Sporzyński, F. 1933. Badania we krwi metodą Löwensteina, [in:] ] 'Warszawskie Czasopismo Lekarskie', No. 5, pp. 100−101
  • Goliborska, T., Festensztat, A., Hufnagel, A. 1933. Odosobnione ropne zapalenie osierdzia wywołane przez micrococcus catrhalis, [in:] 'Warszawskie Czasopismo Lekarskie', No. 23, pp. 522−527
  • Landau, A., Goliborska, T. Markson, M. 1934.O ilości krwi krążącej i zachowaniu się jej w przewlekłej niedomodze mięśnia sercowego, [in:] 'Polska Gazeta Lekarska', No. 25, pp. 477−479
  • Goliborska, T., O wartości podłoża Clauberga dla wykrywania prątków błonicy, [in:] 'Warszawskie Czasopismo Lekarskie', No. 33, pp. 600−603
  • Goliborska, T. 1936. Porównanie zjadliwości szczepów błoniczych typu gravis i mitis, [in:] 'Medycyna Doświadczalna i Społeczna', No. 5−6, pp. 360−364
  • Goliborska, T., Lichowicz, K., Przesmycki F., Seydel, J. 1938.Badania nad biologią maczugowców błonicy pochodzących z obecnej epidemii, [in:] 'Medycyna Doświadczalna i Społeczna', No. 1−2, pp. 25−42
  • Goliborska, T., Lichowicz, K., Przesmycki, F., Seydel J. 1938. Rozprzestrzenianie się maczugowców błonicy w ustroju zwierzęcym w związku z typem maczugowca,[in:] 'Medycyna Doświadczalna i Społeczna', No. 1−2, pp. 21−24
  • Milińska-Szwojnicka, Z., Goliborska, T. 1938. Odchylenie dopełniacza ze szczepami łańcuszkowców hemolizujących w przypadkach płonicy, [in:] 'Medycyna Doświadczalna i Społeczna', No. 1−2, pp. 117−126
  • Co-author (with the team of Dr. J. Fliederbaum) of the chapter Spostrzeżenia u chorych głodujących,[in:] Choroba głodowa. Badania kliniczne nad głodem wykonane w getcie warszawskim w 1942 roku, edited by E. Apfelbaum, Warsaw.

  • [1.1] Teodozja Goliborska-Gołąbowa. Personal file folder of the members of the Warsaw-Bialystok Medical Chamber, deposited in the collection of the Special Collections Department of the Main Medical Library in Warsaw
  • [1.2] Edelman, M. 2009. I była miłość w getcie, Warsaw, p. 175.
  • [1.3] Blady-Szwajger, A. 2010. I więcej nic nie pamiętam, Warsaw, p. 51.
  • [1.4] Relation by Izrael Rotbalsam, Yad Vashem Archives, ref. O.3/2357 [online] [[refr:|Apfelbaum, E. 1946. Choroba głodowa. Badania kliniczne nad głodem wykonane w getcie warszawskim w 1942 roku., Warszawa 1946, p. 17.
  • [1.5] Apfelbaum, E. 1946. Choroba głodowa Badania kliniczne nad głodem wykonane w getcie warszawskim w 1942 roku., Warsaw, p. 17.
  • [1.6] Blady-Szwajger A. 2010. I więcej nic nie pamiętam, Warsaw, p. 64.
  • [1.7] Relation by Izrael Rotbalsam, Yad Vashem Archives, ref. O.3/2357.
  • [1.8] Tushnet, L. 1966. The uses of adversity. Studies of Starvation in the Warsaw Ghetto, New York - London, p. 49.
  • [1.9] Weremowicz, J. 1968. Działalność prof. dr med. W. Orłowski during the occupation, [in:] 'Polski Tygodnik Lekarski' 1968, No. 26, pp. 1002-1004.
  • [1.10] Massry, S.G., Smogorzewski, M. 2002. The Hunger Disease of the Warsaw Ghetto, [in:] 'American Journal of Nephrology', Nos. 2-3, pp. 197-201.
  • [1.11] Edelman, M. 2009. I była miłość w getcie, Warsaw, p. 176. Henryk Woliński, lawyer, member of the Alliance of Democrats party. From 1 February 1942, under the pseudonym 'Wacław', he headed the Jewish Desk at the Information and Propaganda Bureau of the Home Army Headquarters
  • [1.12] Krall, H. 2005. Zdążyć przed Panem Bogiem, Kraków, p. 99.
  • [1.13] Edelman, M. 2008. Strzępy pamięci, [in:] 'Zeszyty Literackie', No. 3, p. 118.
  • [1.14] Temkin-Bermanowa, B. 2000. Dziennik z podziemia, Warsaw, pp. 152-153.
  • [1.15] Śwital, S., Siedmioro z ulicy Promyka, [online]  [in:] 'Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Institute - Central Judaic Library' (jhi.pl), pp. 209-212 [accessed 22.09.2023].
  • [1.16] Śwital, S. Siedmioro z ulicy Promyka, [online] [in:] Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Institute - Central Judaist Library (jhi.pl), pp. 209-212 [accessed 22.09.2023
  • [1.17] Grynberg, M. 1988. Pamiętniki z getta warszawskiego. Fragmenty i regesty. Warsaw, p. 413; Śwital, S. 2009. Jak uratowano grupę bojowników Warszawskiego Getta. [in:] 'Kombatant', No. 3(219), p. 16.
  • [1.18] Krall, H. 2005. Zdążyć przed Panem Bogiem , Cracow, p. 21
  • [1.19] Gliński J. B. 1999. Słownik biograficzny lekarzy i farmaceutów ofiar drugiej wojny światowej, Warsaw, vol.2, p. 169.
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