Priv. Doz. Dr. med. Dr. phil. Paul Oswald Wolff
- Berlin, 28.02.1894
- Geneva, 18.11.1957
- Member since 1925
- Escaped to Argentina in 1939
Paul Oswald Wolff was born in Berlin in 1894 as the son of the general practitioner Dr. Alfred Friedrich Wolff and his wife Anna, née Feis.
Education and Places of Work
After graduating from the Königliches Luisengymnasium (royal grammar school) in Berlin, Wolff began studying medicine and chemistry at the University of Göttingen in 1912, which he continued in Freiburg, Greifswald, and Berlin. He had to interrupt his studies, due to his participation in the First World War. He passed the medical state examination at the Friedrich-Wilhelms University in Berlin in 1919, where he was awarded a doctorate in medicine in 1920 and a doctorate in chemistry in 1921.
He specialised in the field of pharmacology from an early stage and worked intensively on addictive poisons. He habilitated in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Berlin in 1929.
Alongside Reinhard von den Velden Wolff was editor of the Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift from 1928 to 1933.
He became an expert for the Reich Minister of the Interior, the Reich Health Office and the Reich Health Council for drug questions and addiction problems in 1927. He was appointed as permanent editor of the German Drug Commission in 1929. He was appointed as expert and member of the hygiene organisation of the League of Nations in Geneva in 1931. Wolff visited the USA as an expert on addiction issues upon invitation of the American Medical Association in 1932.
Escape to Geneva in 1933
Wolff was already forced to resign from his position as editor of the ‘Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift’ by the National Socialists as early as March 1933. Wolff also had to resign as secretary of the Association of the German Medical Trade and Professional Press in the spring of 1933. Wolff left Germany and fled to Geneva, Switzerland the very same year. He became a member of the League of Nations Health Organisation’s Conference of Experts on the Maintenance of Health in Times of Economic Crisis. While in Geneva, he was a member of the editorial staff of the ‘Schweizerische Medizinische Wochenschrift’. He was stripped of his teaching licence at the University of Berlin in September 1935 (§ 4 section 1, 1st decree of the Reich Citizenship Law, “Jews cannot be citizens of the Reich”).
Wolff was a co-founder and co-organiser of the annual “Internationale Medizinische Wochen” (International Medical Weeks) in Switzerland, which took place in Montreux, Lucerne, and Interlaken between 1935 and 1937.
Escape to Argentina in 1939
Paul Oswald Wolff fled from Europe to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1939. He was a member of various scientific societies there, including the Argentine Society for Pharmacology and Toxicology and the Argentine Society for the History of Medicine. He travelled to Paraguay in 1942, and gave guest lectures in Asunción at the request of the National University of Paraguay. He was appointed member of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Committee of Experts on Narcotics in 1947. Wolff received Argentinean citizenship the same year.
Return to Switzerland in 1949
Wolff headed the WHO’s section for Addiction Producing Drugs – ADP in Geneva from 1 September 1949 to 31 October 1954.
He was awarded an honorary professorship in pharmacology at the Free University of Berlin by the Berlin Senate in 1955. The Federal Minister of the Interior awarded him the title of full professor emeritus in 1957.
Paul Oswald Wolf died in Geneva on 18 November 1957 at the age of 63.
- Mit von den Velden, R.: Herausgabe des Handbuchs der praktischen Therapie als Ergebnis experimenteller Forschung. Leipzig: Verlag von Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1926/27, 2 Bände. Darin von P. O. Wolff: Herkunft und Eigenschaft der wichtigsten Drogen, 1926 Band 1, S. 137-166.
- Mit Claimont P., von den Velden R.: Die Bekämpfung des Blutverlustes durch Transfusion und Gefäßfüllung. Leipzig: Verlag von Georg Thieme 1928.
- Morphinbuch und Kokainbuch für Ärzte. Leipzig: Verlag von Georg Thieme, 1931
- Mit Braenden O J.: Synthetic substances with morphin-like effect. Chemical aspects. Bull Wld Hlth Org 1954; 10: 1003-1038.