Apfelbaum Emil (15.02.1890, Warsaw - 12.01.1946, Warsaw) - doctor of internal medicine, member of a team of doctors investigating the effects of hunger in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Emil Apfelbaum was from Warsaw. It was in the capital of Poland, where he graduated from secondary school and then obtained a diploma from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Warsaw (1922).
After graduation, he became an assistant to Prof. Witold Orłowski at the Infant Jesus Hospital, in the Second Clinic of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Warsaw[1.1]. He specialised in internal medicine, mainly endocrinology and metabolic diseases. He was a member of the Warsaw Medical Society.
The Apfelbaum family flat, on ul. Złota, was demolished during the 1939 defensive campaign. With the help of the Office of Municipal Housing and Welfare, the Apfelbaum family and their children, sixteen-year-old Irena and nine-year-old Marian, moved into a tenement at Senatorska 22/26.
At the same time, due to the ban on Jewish doctors working outside the ghetto, Dr Apfelbaum began working as head of the internal medicine department of the Czyste Jewish Hospital (Infectious Diseases Hospital in Czyste)[1.2]. He was also a volunteer in the Warsaw Health Service[1.3].
Initially, the hospital was located on its original site on ul. Dworska (now ul. Kasprzaka), but in December 1940, the Germans issued an order to move it inside the ghetto[1.4]. The internal medicine ward, infectious diseases ward, the analytical laboratory and the pathology laboratory were relocated to the building of the former Municipal Archives and the adjacent Common School at ul. Stawki 6/8.
After adapting the premises in the building at ul. Stawki 21 (ul. Niska 20), it became the new location for a bacteriology laboratory and several departments, covering such areas of internal medicine such as cardiology and gastrology, in addition to infectious diseases. One of them was presided over by Dr. Emil Apfelbaum, who, apart from his clinical work, also taught in the secret medical studies organised in the ghetto by Asst. Prof. Juliusz Zweibaum and Dr. Izrael Milejkowski under the guise of a sanitary preparation course[1.5].
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-Heller, Dr. Józef Stein, Dr. Emil Apfelbaum and Dr. Julian Fliederbaum. The research began in February 1942. Observations on adults were carried out in the departments of Dr. Jakub Penson and Dr. Emil Apfelbaum, who led research into cardiovascular pathology. As Emil Apfelbaum wrote:
'The intention was not only to document and pass on, for posterity, the suffering of the Jews confined behind the walls of the ghetto, but also to demonstrate the dignified attitude of the Jewish doctors in defence of human rights'[1.6].
The effects of hunger in adults (20-40 years of age) were described by a team of doctors, led by Dr. Emil Apfelbaum, while children (6-12 years of age) were studied under the direction of Dr. Anna Braude-Heller. The entire scientific team was headed by Dr. Julian Fliederbaum, who had arrived from Vilnius, a graduate of St Petersburg University, an excellent internist, 'the epitome of subtlety and kindness, an excellent scholar and doctor', as he was described after the war by Prof. Ludwik Hirszfeld[1.7].
Paediatrician Dr. Izrael Rotbalsam described the circumstances surrounding the start of the hunger study as follows:
'The idea of writing a paper, entitled Hunger Disease, 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 study was warmly 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 - for 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.'[1.8].
From the introduction to the book Choroba głodowa. Badania kliniczne nad głodem wykonane w getcie warszawskim w 1942 roku, we learn that, during the July meeting 'Dr. Milejkowski, in his introductory speech, characterised the aims of the work and emphasised its importance. Dr. Fliederbaum reported on his team's findings, while Dr. Apfelbaum presented the results of the research on cardiovascular functions. Doctors Braude-Heller, J. Stein, Goliborska and Kocen also presented their input. The discussion emphasised the importance of this work from not only a scientific, but also a social point of view.'[1.9].
Read more about the research on hunger in the Warsaw Ghetto
The last meeting took place in August 1942, when the great deportation operaion had already been underway[1.10]. Dr. Apfelbaum left the ghetto at the end of January 1943. He hid under the false name of “Kowalski”.
The typescripts were still being prepared, until April 1943, in a building in the Jewish cemetery and then, according to Dr. Rotbalsam, one of them was handed over to the son-in-law of Dr. Milejkowski, lawyer Galecki (or Galewski)[1.11]. While the paper was still being written, the Professor reviewed its content[1.12].
The professor's son, Tadeusz Orłowski, a student in the secret medicine courses during the occupation, and an eminent internist and professor of organ transplantation after the war, also played a part in saving the typescript. On his father's instructions, Tadeusz buried the typescript in the grounds of the Infant Jesus Hospital. He found it there, not without difficulty, after the war, when Dr Apfelbaum came to collect his paper[1.13] Shortly after the end of the war, an editorial committee, under the direction of Asst. Prof. Julius Zweibaum, together with editor-in-chief Emil Apfelbaum, led to the publication of the book.
A publication, containing some of the surviving minutes and their elaboration, was published in 1946, but its editor-in-chief did not live to see it. He died after a short illness in Warsaw on 12th January 1946. In the introduction to the book Choroba głodowa. Badania kliniczne nad głodem wykonane w getcie warszawskim w 1942 roku, we read:
'The harsh living conditions in the ghetto, the extraordinary nervous tension in which he lived while in hiding and, finally, the death of his beloved daughter, tore at his already life-weary heart"[1.14].
Dr. Emil Apfelbaum was buried in the Jewish cemetery on ul. Okopowa in Warsaw (quarter 10, row 5).
Maria Ciesielska, MD, PhD hab.
- Apfelbaum, E. 1927. Przypadek ostrej białaczki,[in:] 'Polska Gazeta Lekarska', No. 14, pp. 262-263
- Apfelbaum, E. 1928. Rola wątroby w przemianie wodnej ustroju,[in:] 'Polska Gazeta Lekarska', No. 6, pp. 96-99
- Apfelbaum, E., Reicher, E. 1928. Badania czynnościowe wątroby, [in:] 'Polskie Archiwum Medycyny Wewnętrznej', No. 1, pp. 133-150
- Apfelbaum, E. 1929. Odczyn ustroju na bodźce alkaliczne w chorobach wątroby, [in:] 'Polskie Archiwum Medycyny Wewnętrznej' No. 4, pp. 629-650
- Apfelbaum, E., Elektorowicz A., Markert W. 1930.Przypadek nadnerczaka, [in:] 'Medycyna Warszawska', No. 19, pp. 611-612
- Apfelbaum, E. 1932. Przypadek ciężkiej niedokrwistości z zespołem śledzionowo-wątrobowym, [in:] 'Medycyna', No. 15, pp. 467-468
- Apfelbaum, E. 1933. Zespół „erythrodermia praemycotica” z „lymphogranulomatosis maligna” (?). Przyczynek do patogenezy ziarnicy złośliwej, [in:] 'Medycyna', No. 7, pp. 206-207
- Apfelbaum, E. 1934. Wpływ czynników zakwaszających na przemianę kwasu mlecznego w ustroju,[in:] 'Polskie Archiwum Medycyny Wewnętrznej', No. 1, pp. 3-23
- Apfelbaum, E. 1935. Badania kliniczne nad patologią utleniania krwi i tkanek w stanach niedokrwistości różnych typów. Doniesienie 2. Właściwości oraz przebieg krzywej dysocjacji oksyhemoglobiny, [in:] 'Polskie Archiwum Medycyny Wewnętrznej', No. 4, pp. 781-804
- Apfelbaum, E. 1935. Badania kliniczne nad patologią utleniania krwi i tkanek w stanach niedokrwistości różnych typów. Doniesienie 3. Zużytkowanie tlenu na obwodzie, [in:] 'Polskie Archiwum Medycyny Wewnętrznej', No. 4, pp. 805-824
- Apfelbaum, E. 1935. Choroba Cushinga, [in:] 'Medycyna', No. 23, pp. 785-786
- Apfelbaum E. 1936. O chorobie Cushinga i rozpoznawaniu zespołów przysadkowych, [in:] 'Polskie Archiwum Medycyny Wewnętrznej' No. 1, pp. 55-78
- Apfelbaum E. 1937. Ziarnica złośliwa, [in:] 'Medycyna', No. 3, pp. 105-106
- Apfelbaum, E. 1937. Przypadek kiły żołądka, [in:] 'Medycyna', No. 10, p. 366.
- Apfelbaum E., Chodkowska S. 1938. O patogenezie zespołów dokrewnych w chorobie Cushinga,[in:] 'Polskie Archiwum Medycyny Wewnętrznej' No. 1, pp. 13-49
- Apfelbaum, E. 1938. Przypadek raka tylnej ściany żołądka, [in:] 'Medycyna', No. 11, p. 446.
- Apfelbaum, E. 1946. Badania kliniczne nad patologią układu krążenia w wyniszczeniu głodowym ,[in:] Apfelbaum, E. (ed.) 1946. Choroba głodowa. Badania kliniczne nad głodem wykonane w getcie warszawskim w 1942 roku, Warszawa.
- Emil Apfelbaum. 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]].
- Ciesielska, M. 2020. Wybrane badania naukowe prowadzone przez żydowskich mikrobiologów w getcie warszawskim i lwowskim, [in:] Pola wolności, Oświęcim − Poznań, pp. 81-100
- Ciesielska, M. 2018. Lekarze getta warszawskiego, Warsaw
- Gliński J. B. 1999. Słownik biograficzny lekarzy i farmaceutów ofiar drugiej wojny światowej, vol. 2, Warsaw.
- Hanecki, M. 1971. Udział lekarzy i przyrodników pochodzenia żydowskiego w rozwoju nauk lekarskich w Polsce ostatniego stulecia, [in:] 'Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego', pp. 43-44
- Wulman L., Tenenbaum J. 1963. The Martyrdom of the Jewish Physicians in Poland, New York, pp. 291-292 (includes a summary of the results of the team of Dr. Apfelbaum by Dr. Isaac Lewenter).
- [1.1] Gliński, J.B. 1999. Słownik biograficzny lekarzy i farmaceutów ofiar drugiej wojny światowej, vol. 2, Warsaw, p. 29; Hanecki, M. 1971. Udział lekarzy i przyrodników pochodzenia żydowskiego w rozwoju nauk lekarskich w Polsce ostatniego stulecia, in: 'Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego', no. 77, pp. 43-44.
- [1.2] . In order to be able to practise and treat “Aryan” patients in the General Government, one had to demonstrate pure “Aryan”: origin.
- [1.3] Emil Apfelbaum. Peronnel file of the members of the Warsaw-Białystok Medical Chamber, deposited in the collection of the Special Collections Department of the Main Medical Library in Warsaw
- [1.4] Jacek Leociak gives the date 13.12.1940 as the date when the evacuation of the hospital from Czyste began. Leociak, J. Przebieg i zmiany granic getta warszawskiego, [in:] Engelking B., Leociak J. 2001. Getto warszawskie. Przewodnik po nieistniejącym mieście, Warsaw p. 90.
- [1.5] 'Gazeta Żydowska' 1942, No. 39, p. 3.
- [1.6] Apfelbaum, E. (ed.) 1946. Choroba głodowa. Badania kliniczne nad głodem wykonane w getcie warszawskim w 1942 roku, Warszawa, p. 5.
- [1.7] Hirszfeld, L. 1946 Historia jednego życia,Warsaw, p. 325.
- [1.8] Relation by Izrael Rotbalsam, AYV O.3/2357 [online] [[refr:|Czerniaków, A. 1983. , Adama Czerniakowa dziennik getta warszawskiego , edited by Fuks, M., Warsaw, p. 296
- [1.9] Apfelbaum, E. (ed.) 1946. Choroba głodowa. Badania kliniczne nad głodem wykonane w getcie warszawskim w 1942 roku, Warsaw, p. 17
- [1.10] Blady-Szwajger A. 2010. I więcej nic nie pamiętam, Warsaw, p. 64.
- [1.11] Relation by Izrael Rotbalsam, Yad Vashem Archives, Ref. O.3/2357 [online] https://collections.yadvashem.org/en/documents/3555941 [accessed 10.09.2023] ].
Meanwhile, Dr. Teodozja Goliborska reported that the collected typescripts were to be buried in the Jewish cemetery. The first copy has never been recovered, but the second copy was given to Prof. Witold Orłowski. According to Leonard Tushnet, the typescript, along with the editorial letter, were picked up by an unknown woman, who delivered them to Prof. Witold Orlowski[[refr:|Tushnet, L. 1966. The uses of adversity. Studies of Starvation in the Warsaw Ghetto, New York - London, p. 49.
- [1.12] Weremowicz, J. 1968. Działalność prof. dr. med. W. Orłowskiego w czasie okupacji, [in:] 'Polski Tygodnik Lekarski', No. 26, pp. 1002-1004
- [1.13] Massry, S.G., Smogorzewski, M. 2002. The Hunger Disease of the Warsaw Ghetto, [in:] 'American Journal of Nephrology', no. 2-3, pp. 197-201.
- [1.14] Apfelbaum, E. (ed.) 1946. Choroba głodowa. Badania kliniczne nad głodem wykonane w getcie warszawskim w 1942 roku, Warsaw, p. 19