[Persecution, expulsion and extermination of German-speaking neurologists during the NS era: attempt at an assessment].Nervenarzt. 2022 Oct; 93(Suppl 1):138-159.N
Some 90 years after the beginning of the Nazi regime, the German Neurological Society (DGN) commissioned an investigation into the extent to which persecution, expulsion and extermination during the "Third Reich" also affected neurologists. In total, the biographies of 61 mostly Jewish physicians and scientists, of whom more than 70% were members of the neurological association of the time, could be analyzed. Most of them emigrated, a few remained in Germany or Austria despite persecution, and nine died in the Holocaust or by suicide. The racistically motivated expulsion affected all age groups, especially those who were 30-60 years old in "middle" positions. In close connection with Nazi legislation, three waves of emigration can be distinguished (1933-1934, 1935-1937, 1938-1939) and the clearly preferred destination country was the USA (64.7%). Younger age, knowledge of a universal language, reliable family and academic connections as well as internationally recognized publications, could make it easier to start a career in the country of exile. It was not uncommon for those who were involved in neurological fields before emigration to turn to basic science or psychiatry afterwards. The general "brain-drain"/"brain gain" hypothesis must be expanded by analyses on the biographical microlevel in order to illustrate the difficulties emigrants encountered when trying to start a new career and to publicize a sometimes unsuccessful acculturation. Not a single neurologist returned to Germany and, as far as can be assessed, any compensation, if at all was low. The critical assessment of the racistically motivated persecution between 1933 and 1945 can today be an occasion for the DGN and its members to reflect on collegiality as a value as well as to become more aware of structurally related discrimination and injustice and to counteract it in a timely manner.