Hermann Strauss

Foto: Portrait Hermann Strauss around 1928, © Family archives of Irene Hallmann-Strauss

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Hermann Strauss around 1905, © Family archives of Irene Hallmann-Strauss
Hermann Strauss around 1905, © Family archives of Irene Hallmann-Strauss

Hermann Strauss (Heilbronn 1868-1944 Theresienstadt), medical studies at Würzburg and Berlin. From 1895 to 1906, he served as a senior doctor at the Berlin University Hospital III under Hermann Senator.

His investigations into the pathophysiology of kidney diseases on the basis of residual nitrogen determination procedure and other parameters constituted landmark contributions to the field of functional nephrology. He compiled his research findings in a work published in 1902 entitled "Die chroniche Nierenentzündungen" (chronic kidney inflammation).

In 1903, he was the first to pioneer a low-salt diet as a therapeutic principle for the treatment of renal insufficiency. He introduced the "Strauss cannula" in 1898, a very important advancement in terms of introducing routine laboratory-chemical blood testing. His innovative 'Strauss proctosigmoidoscope' launched in 1903 remained a standard procedure for endoscopic examinations of the rectum and sigma until the 1970s.

Hermann Strauss around 1928, © Family archives of Irene Hallmann-Strauss
Hermann Strauss around 1928, © Family archives of Irene Hallmann-Strauss

He received his postdoctoral qualification in 1895 and was appointed associate professor in 1902. From 1906 to 1910, he was the head of a policlinic and a private clinic for internal medicine. He served as the chief physician for internal medicine at the Jewish Hospital Berlin from 1910 to 1942.

At the onset of World War I in 1914, he assumed the duties of an army doctor. He was a co-signatory to the so-called "Declaration of the professors of the universities and technical colleges of the German empire", issued on 23 October 1914 in support of the Emperor and "to defend German culture’.

He later became very active in the Hufeland Society and the Society for Digestive and Metabolic Diseases. Despite being designated to serve as the congress president of the September 1933 conference, because he was a Jew, in the wake of the imposition of National Socialist policies he was forced to resign as the society's chairman in April 1933. Later that same year his certification to teach at the University of Berlin was revoked. Under increasingly difficult conditions Strauss continued to work at the Jewish Hospital Berlin until 1942. He himself chose not to emigrate, despite being advised to do so by his students and friends.

Certificate from the "Jewish self-government Theresienstadt" for Prof. Dr. Hermann Strauss as a member of the council of elders dated 02 November 1943 , © Family archives of Irene Hallmann-Strauss
Certificate from the "Jewish self-government Theresienstadt" for Prof. Dr. Hermann Strauss as a member of the council of elders dated 02 November 1943 , © Family archives of Irene Hallmann-Strauss

Hermann Strauss and his wife Elsa were deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 01 July 1942. As of October that same year he became a member of the 'council of elders' and head of the 'science committee' in the ghetto's health care service. Although already 74 years of age at the time, despite the extremely harsh ghetto conditions he continued to impart medical knowledge and to share his experience with other incarcerated physicians and nurses, while also serving in a consultative capacity and providing care for elderly ghetto inmates. Both his brother and his sister died in the fall of 1942 under catastrophic hygienic conditions, both having also been deported to Theresienstadt. He died on 17 October 1944 in Theresienstadt due to a heart attack. His wife survived the liberation, but died in June 1945 before she was able to leave the camp. One daughter emigrated to England in 1938. Their son ─ Walter Strauss ─ survived the Third Reich and, as an attorney, played an important role in formulating Germany's 'Basic Law'. He remained an influential figure from 1949 to 1963 in his role as State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry for Justice.

(Text: Harro Jenss, 2015)

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Decree issued by the Gestapo on 01 July 1942 ordering the confiscation of all assets held by "Hermann Isr. Strauss", © Family archives of Irene Hallmann-Strauss
Decree issued by the Gestapo on 01 July 1942 ordering the confiscation of all assets held by "Hermann Isr. Strauss", © Family archives of Irene Hallmann-Strauss

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