Commemoration of the German Society of Gastroenterology
In memory of

Dr. med.
Hermann Steinitz
1900 - 1990

Dr. med. Hermann Steinitz <br> © Prof. Hannah Rosén
Dr. med. Hermann Steinitz
© Prof. Hannah Rosén

Member since 1928

Co-founder of the Society of Internal Medicine and the gastroenterology chapter in Palestine

Introduced gastroscopy in Israel

Dr. med. Hermann Steinitz

  • Gleiwitz/Gliwice, Upper Silesia, Poland, 1‌7‌.‌1‌0‌.‌1‌9‌0‌0‌
  • Tel Aviv, Israel, 3‌0‌.‌0‌4‌.‌1‌9‌9‌0‌
  • Member since 1928
  • Escaped to Palestine in 1933
  • Berlin
  • Specialist in internal medicine, focus on gastroenterology and hepatology

Hermann Steinitz was born in Gleiwitz/Gliwice, Upper Silesia, in 1900 as the son of the lawyer Hans Steinitz and his wife Gertrud, née Appel. The family lived in Berlin from 1906.

 

Education and Places of Work

After graduating from the Lessing Gymnasium in Berlin-Wedding in 1918, Steinitz studied medicine in Berlin, Freiburg, Breslau, and then again in Berlin. He passed the state examination at the University Berlin at the end of 1923. He received his doctorate in 1924 with the thesis “Chemische Blutuntersuchungen bei chronischer Adrenalinvergiftung der Kaninchen”, which he wrote under Martin Jacoby at the Institute for Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Berlin Municipal Hospital Moabit. He received his licence to practise medicine the same year.

As a medical trainee, Steinitz worked at the I. Medical Clinic at the Moabit Municipal Hospital, Berlin, under Georg Klemperer. He worked as an assistant physician at the Department of Internal Medicine at the Jewish Hospital Berlin under Hermann Strauss from 1 January 1925 to 31 December 1928. During this period, Steinitz wrote numerous papers which he published together with Strauss. After six months of training in x-ray diagnostics at the Berlin-Friedrichshain Municipal Hospital, Steinitz worked as a senior physician at the I. Internal Department of the Berlin Municipal Hufeland Hospital under Georg Rosenow from August 1929.

Steinitz was imprisoned for four days at Spandau prison as part of a Nazi action in May 1933, in which 60 Berlin doctors, including Hermann Strauss, were arrested. Hermann Steinitz subsequently decided to flee Germany.

 

Escape from Germany to Palestine in 1933

Following stopovers in Paris and Switzerland, Steinitz travelled from Marseille to Jaffa, Palestine in October 1933, which he reached on 22 October 1933. His wife followed him with their two-year-old daughter in January 1934.

He had been working as a specialist in internal medicine in Tel Aviv since 1 January 1934 with a rapidly growing private practice. He worked part-time for the General Workers’ Health Insurance Fund. Steinitz was a co-founder of the Society for Internal Medicine and the gastroenterology chapter in Palestine. Hermann Steinitz tried very hard, albeit unsuccessfully, to get his former teacher Hermann Strauss, who visited Palestine in 1937, to leave Germany.

Influenced by his collaboration with Hermann Strauss at the Jewish Hospital in Berlin, Steinitz’s work focused mainly on gastroenterology and hepatology, metabolic issues as well as infectious diseases, especially in Palestine and Israel, with an intensive focus on amoebiasis.

Steinitz spent three months in London in 1949, working for Sir Avery Jones at the department of gastroenterology at Middelsex County Hospital. He returned to Israel with a semi-flexible Wolf-Schindler gastroscope and introduced gastroscopy in Israel.

He headed the Polyclinic of Gastroenterology at Tel Aviv’s Zamenhof Central Hospital part-time from 1952 to 1970.

Hermann Steinitz was in contact with German and European gastroenterologists after 1950, with the Frankfurt hepatologist Werner Siede acting as a mediator. Hermann Steinitz was awarded an honorary professorship in internal medicine at the Free University of Berlin in 1970.

Hermann Steinitz died in Tel Aviv in 1990 at the age of 89. The linguist Hannah Rosén, born in Berlin in 1931, is Hermann and Gerda Steinitz’s daughter.

Publications

  1. Weitere Beobachtungen über Ikterus bei Diabetikern. Dtsch med Wochenschr 1932; 58: 1555-1557
  2. Calcinosis circumscripta („Kalkgicht“) und Calcinosis universalis. Ergeb Inn Med Kinderheilk 1931; 39: 216-276
  3. Über die stickstoffhaltigen Bestandteile des reinen Magensaftes.I. Ammoniak im Magensaft. Arch Verdauungskr 1932; 52: 31-37
  4. Untersuchungen zur Pathologie des Fruktose-Stoffwechsels. Reine Fruktosurie bei Geschwistern. Diabetes und Fruktose-Stoffwechsel. Gastroenterologia 1939; 64: 334-7. – vgl. Steinitz H, Mizrahy O. Essential fructosuria and fructose intolerance. N Engl J Med 1969; 280: 222
  5. The treatment of chronic amoebic infection with metronidazole ( Flagyl ). Digestion 1972; 6: 75-82
Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to Professor Hannah Rosén, Israel, for her help with the research for Hermann Steinitz’s biography in 2019. We would like to thank Jan Steinitz for arranging the contacts.


Sources and Further Reading
Sources
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Sources/Literature/Weblinks

Biographie of Dr. med. Hermann Steinitz

Bibliography

  • Staatsbibliothek Berlin. Steinitz H. Dissertation: Chemische Blutuntersuchungen bei chronischer Adrenalinvergiftung der Kaninchen. Berlin 1924. SBB-SPK Sign. MS 30/480:42

Literature

  • Hartung-von Doetinchen D, Winau R. Zerstörte Fortschritte. Das Jüdische Krankenhaus in Berlin. 1756-1861-1914-1989. Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich Verlag; 1989: 131f.
  • Steinitz H. Mein Medizinischer Lebenslauf.18. Februar 1968. In: Ismar Boas Collection 1903-1938, Leo Baeck Institute New York
  • Steinitz R. Eine deutsche jüdische Familie wird zerstreut. Die Geschichte der Familie Steinitz von 1751 bis heute. Books on Demand; 2016: 130-134