The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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25 May 1933

Letter sent by Ernst Rosenthal from prison to Emil Krückmann and Krückmann‘s response

In mid-April 1933 the eye doctor Ernst Rosenthal traveled to Madrid to attend the 14th Concilium Ophtalmologicum, which was devoted to the topics "Tuberculosis of the Iris and Ciliary Body" and "Retinal Detachment." During the boycott on 1 April, Rosenthal, who worked in Chemnitz, had been denied access to his patients at the Zimmermann Sanatorium. The international conference offered him an opportunity—surely welcome—to hear talks by esteemed representatives of his discipline and to exchange ideas with colleagues from around the world. It was by no means an unusual trip.

One month after he had returned, on 23 May, Ernst Rosenthal was taken into "protective custody" in Chemnitz and jailed at police headquarters. The reason for his arrest was his stay in Madrid. In order to secure his release, he wrote a letter to Professor Emil Krückmann, the director of the University Eye Clinic in Berlin, on 25 May. Krückmann had led the German delegation at the Madrid conference and in his letter Rosenthal asked him to certify that he had been in attendance.

The police had apparently demanded proof of his attendance. Emil Krückmann confirmed this fact immediately upon receiving the letter from Ernst Rosenthal, whom he had apparently known from his days as an assistant doctor in Berlin. The confirmation arrived at police headquarters on 29 May. However, the police had already released Rosenthal just two days earlier. This incident illustrates the absolute despotism to which the Jews in Germany were subject at the hands of the authorities. For Ernst Rosenthal it was by no means the end of persecution and discrimination.

Aubrey Pomerance

Categorie(s): Chemnitz | physicians
Letter from Ernst Rosenthal to Emil Krückmann requesting confirmation of his participation in the ophthalmology conference, Chemnitz, 25 May 1933
Gift of Karin and Steve Rosenthal