In the hospital itself the following departments were set up:
Internal Medicine Department
A small Orthopedic Department
A laboratory and a pharmacy which was well stocked with medicine
Furthermore a club room was elegantly outfitted in which the numerous
meetings, seminars and events took place. His main concern however was always
The chief doctors were:
Dr. Kraft as leader of Internal Medicine who was assigned several doctors
Dr. Sammler as leader of the Surgical Department
Dr. Paul Katz as leader of the X-Ray Department
Dr. Klier as leader of Orthopedics which was a sub-division of surgery.
Dr. Bacher was Assistant in the Surgical Department.
I didn't remain in the hospital. On August 18, 1940 I was made director of
the Blood Transfusion Institute for the entire district (oblast) and in November
I was delegated to Vienna for six months in order to organize a hospital and a
surgical department for the entire western area of Bukovina.
During the time frame of July 25, 1940 (the date that the Soviet officials
took over the Jewish Hospital) until July 6, 1941, the date the German -
Romanian troops marched into Czernowitz the Jewish Hospital functioned as the
Russian State Hospital II and was completely controlled by the Russian officials
who were located in the Czernowitz Justice Palace.
During this period the hospital underwent a thorough renovation whereby in
addition to some construction work the inventory was expanded greatly and the
surgical instrumentation was significantly increased.
On June 13, 1941, approximately three weeks before the Soviets left
Czernowitz and the northern part of Bukovina and a still greater peace reigned I
was named director of Russian Hospital II since the former director, Nikolai
Jacklowitz was entrusted with the leadership of State Hospital I.
In these 3-4 weeks that followed my assignment and in which the transfer took
place, historically important events took place, in which the hospital proved
itself a Jewish center. It therefore seems important to me to describe this
Hardly had the Jewish population of Czernowitz put behind them the terrors of
the Russian mass deportation to Siberia (June 13 - June 15, 1941) in which
10,000 Jews had been taken away, when the June 22, 1941 declaration of war
between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia surprised them and put them in a state of
fear and unrest.
One still didn't sense the scope of the tragedy that stood before the Jewish
population of North Bukovina and the city of Czernowitz.
As on July 5, 1941 shortly before 9 am, the first German-Romanian advance
guard marched into Czernowitz, the streets were literally devoid of humanity.
As responsible director of the hospital, I hadn't left it since the
declaration of war since it was overfilled with the wounded and I was burdened
with a tremendous responsibility. Leaving now would be even more difficult
because of the danger outside.
The main entrance was guarded by a reinforced post of three men. No stranger,
no matter who he was, was permitted to enter the hospital without my permission.
In addition to this, there was a guard posted on the top floor of the hospital
who through a small window could observe the lower part of Hauptstrasse and the
The doctors of the hospital who without exception lived in the city had not
appeared for duty for several days, already since July 5th because
any Jews who appeared on the streets put their lives in danger.
I, myself and my bold assistant Dr. Julius Bacher alternated service since
July 27 and this situation was to continue for at least eight days.
On July 5 15 minutes after 9 am, we suffered our first casualty.
The well known in Czernowitz Littmann Schaffer who in the last days before
the withdrawal of the Russians became purchasing agent for the hospital went -
against my orders - before 9 o'clock accompanied by two Christian hospital
workers in the immediate vicinity of the hospital to obtain important victuals
for the hospital.
The first patrol recognized him as a Jew and shot him on the spot. His
companions carried the corpse back to the hospital.
For 48 hours the German and Romanian troops rampaged through the mostly
Jewish lower part of the city murdering and plundering. The soldiers forced
their way into Jewish dwellings, shot entire families and stole all their
belongings. Not rarely, they shot through the windows of locked homes.
On the street lay piles of Jewish corpses
The wounded couldn't be given medical help since every Jew on the street was
shot without question.
This gruesome period of terror stopped after 48 hours with the appearance of
SS troops in the Springbrunnen and Synagogengasse. Two SS men were posted in
front of every house. Men between the ages of 18 and 40 years were dragged out
of the houses. About 120 Jewish men were escorted to the Romanian Culture House
on Theaterplatz where German officers segregated them. Those selected by this
Commission were led by a German patrol to Pruthergeläde and “liquidated.”
Patrols were made less often and the inflow of heavily wounded began, brought
to the hospital by their relatives. the majority of these victims were near
death. Very few would have been helped by an operation. Countless moderately and
lightly wounded were operated on and bandaged until late in the night and the
Only after a week, could the wounded who still lived be brought in to the
Jewish Hospital from the provinces. What these unfortunate people told us about
the enormity of the murders and plundering carried out by the German and
Romanian soldiers could hardly be put on paper.
Since I don't have any statistical material available, it is impossible to
say even approximately how many dead and wounded passed through the hospital.
In the meantime, the Romanian officials had installed themselves and taken up
their administrative activities.
On July 15, 1941, that is ten days after the appearance of the “victorious”
German - Romanian troops and after ten days and ten nights of high physical and
psychological stress, came relief for me.
On July 15, 1941 Dr. Siegmund Neuberger appeared in the hospital and
presented me with the decree, naming him director of the Jewish Hospital,
written by the chief doctor of the Romanian city administration, Dr. Strejac. In
the decree, was also a directive intended for me, stating that, “I should
immediately hand over the agenda for the hospital to the new director.”
This hand-over took place in a short period, and then I asked the new
director to allow me and my faithful fellow worker and assistant, Dr. Bacher a
ten day vacation.
The Jewish Hospital had proved itself in this time of great need as an
important institution, but soon it was to be faced with much more difficult
Namely, the new military governor had issued orders that all state Hospitals
were to be bared without exception to the Jewish population. This drastic
measure filled us with great trepidation, since there were approximately 80
Jewish patients in the state insane asylum.
Meanwhile, the “every day” made an appearance. The doctors, who during the
Russian period (1940/1941) were detached to other hospitals came back to their
jobs and the departments and outpatient clinics were reactivated and took up
their earlier activities.
Of our former staff of doctors, to our great regret, two doctors didn't
return, The well known surgeon Dr. Flor and the radiologist, Dr. Paul Katz. The
former voluntarily went with the Russians on June 28, 1941 while Dr. Paul Katz
with his entire family was deported to Siberia during the night of June 13.
On the other hand, we received in the person of Dr. Ludwig Sammler who during
the Russian period directed the surgical department of the state hospitals, a
worthwhile addition to the staff.
The hospital's poor financial situation immediately made itself felt in all
areas. We could have coped with this and other internal and external problems if
only the personal safety of the Jews could have been insured.
There soon circulated rumors that a deportation of the Jews from Czernowitz
and all of Bukovina was planed and we constantly received this alarming news.
The effect of these rumors in the hospital was to take all enthusiasm for
work away from the doctors and personnel.
At the end of August, 1941 we received a very uncomfortable surprise in the
hospital. The new Romanian director of the insane asylum, Dr. Constantinescu
immediately acknowledged the governor's directive and believed that as a good
Romanian patriot he would fulfill a “national duty” by loading all the Jewish
patients of the insane asylum on a wagon and sending them to the Jewish Hospital
in a single day.
Among these mentally ill were also several violent patients who had to be
isolated. For this purpose, three small rooms in the hospital were
correspondingly outfitted. The others were assigned rooms like ordinary patients
and naturally, we didn't have the necessary trained personnel to care for them.
The confusion and feeling of helplessness was great.
In this need, we turned to Dr. Rammler. This noble man took as doctor and
human being this affair very seriously and put himself fully and completely in
the service of these unhappy people. He worked untiringly to adapt a building in
the Springbrunnengasse which was used for the purpose of housing these sick
people. He did his best with what he was offered and I never saw him nervous,
even for a moment. No word of complaint or discouragement ever passed his lips.
He took up a collection of linen and other inventory items among the Jewish
I often met Dr. Rammler later and helped him with his difficult work when I
functioned as sanitary commissioner in the Kultusrat[D]
named by the governor.
Really, an official committee should document his self sacrificing efforts,
whose like can scarcely be found so at least, his activity dedicated to the
common good will not be forgotten by posterity.
An end was put to his work in-so-far as on June 1942, in one night, all the
patients of the Jewish Insane Asylum were removed and sent with a few of the
personnel to Transnistrien where they quickly died.
At that time, there was almost no contact between the Romanian officials and
the Jewish population. When in rare cases, contact was necessary; the leadership
of the Jewish Hospital would act as intermediaries. And so gradually, the Jewish
Hospital developed into the single representative of the Jewish people.
Meanwhile, a change took place in the Czernowitz city government mayor's
office. Dr. Strejac, who was acting as provisional mayor was replaced by the
Czernowitz lawyer, Dr. Trajan Popovici. Dr. Popovici was a man with human
feelings and a real Bukoviner of earlier times, who used all possible means to
create a milder regime for the Czernowitz Jews.
What we feared since the arrival of German - Romanian troops in Czernowitz at
the beginning of July 1941 actually took place on October 11, 1941. Already on
October 10 in the evening the news spread by mundfunk [word of mouth, pun on
Rundfunk, the German radio station] that on the next morning (Ocotber 11) at 6
o'clock am all Jews of the city without exception had to go to the ghetto and
any Jew who didn't appear in the ghetto by 6 pm would be shot. Even the
dimensions of the ghetto were made known by “mundfunk.”
Although, no written orders were issued, on October 11 at 6 am, the stream of
the 64,000 Jews who were still in Czernowitz at that time spontaneously began to
pour into the ghetto which was located in the lower part of the city. The ghetto
was surrounded by boards and barbed wire and stood under military guard. Jews
who were found in their houses were driven, often by soldiers beating them with
rifle stocks into the ghetto. At 6 pm, the entire Jewish population of
Czernowitz was interned in the ghetto whose access points were strictly watched
by military guards. Leaving the ghetto without express permission of the
officials was punishable by death. Since the dwellings in the streets set aside
for the ghetto could barely accommodate 5 - 6000 people, unbelievable conditions
reigned. Many people had to stay in stairwells, attics, cellars or even outdoors
in spite of the already cold weather.
Many hundred sick and weak people, approximately 850 who until then had been
cared for at home had to go in the Jewish Hospital which was already filled
almost to capacity with sick people. Every clinic and corridor and well as every
available room in the hospital was filled with sick people. The same took place
in the nearby Jewish Old People's Home.
I have to brag that the intake of these masses in the hospital took place
smoothly and calmly, which could mainly be attributed to the fact that at time
Dr. Jakob Landau had been appointed as deputy director.
Doctors and hospital personal worked day and night, the kitchen functioned
flawlessly. The strictest sanitary conditions were maintained. Two rooms were
always kept ready for isolation cases.
Outpatient clinics and Departments were all overloaded with work, since
almost every private practice had been disabled since July, 1941.
It became clear and the word spread that the ghetto was created to
concentrate the Jews of Czernowitz and then deport them to Transnistrien. In
actuality, from the day of the construction of the ghetto, Jews partly
individually and partly in groups were taken from the ghetto to the railroad
station and there loaded in cattle cars and deported to Transnistrien.
A panicky desperation overcame the Jews. Mayor Dr. Traian Popovice, who at
that time, represented the only hope of the Czernowitz Jews made overtures to
the Romanian central government in Bucharest to hinder the deportation or at
least to put it off. Soon came the great disappointment. Dr. Popovice was only
able to delay the deportation of 20,000 Jews until spring. This delay worked to
the favor only of special groups like intellectuals (doctors, engineers, and
lawyers), and further reserve officers, retirees, industrialists, the seriously
ill and special hand workers. The remaining 44,000 Jews were deported to
Transnistrien and there up to 80% perished from hunger, epidemics, cold and
mishandling. The Jewish Hospital was besieged daily by thousands who sought the
exception granted by the so-called Popovici authorization.
In mid-November, 1941the ghetto was taken down and the 20,000 Jews who still
remained there were permitted to return to their mostly plundered homes. Already
in July, 1941 on the basis of a decree by the governor, the Jews were made to
wear a gold star on their left breast, the so-called “Jew star” [star of
David?]. This discriminatory mark was to make the Jews immediately recognizable
since they were only allowed to go out before noon (from 10 am to 1 pm) to do
the most necessary chores and if they violated this rule, they were severely
punished, mainly by deportation.
The Jewish Hospital first of all had to be cleaned and in view of the greatly
reduced Jewish population, it had to take a new direction.
Toward the end of November, 19441 the governor named Jewish representatives
who would be responsible to the government for all affairs concerning the Jews.
I belonged to this “chosen” group and this office was later to cause me much
In the course of registering the Jewish residents of Czernowitz, the governor
demanded a list of doctors and other personnel absolutely needed to run the
Jewish Hospital with its reduced work load. I as the person responsible for
Jewish health questions had to compile the list.
It was now clear that every one of the 250 Jewish doctors from Czernowitz,
when not as leader, had to be at least designated as a deputy leader of a
department. For only so could one be protected from a future deportation in that
one had an important occupation. The list which I therefore finally handed to
the committee chairman designated 65 doctors, approximately 85 nurses and
medical personnel and 35 people of lower grades.
This excess of hospital personal was later to prove harmful.
The governor removed a number of doctors and medical personnel from the list
as being superfluous and then added these people to a list of those to be
deported. We first found out about this one evening before the III deportation
which took place on June 28, 1942.
And so it happened that on June 28, 1942 - the last Jewish deportation from
Bukovina - long time doctors of the hospital and important medical personnel
were torn from the hospital by the deportation. This sad fate struck Frau Dr.
Mina Zloczower, the long time diligent eye doctor, Dr. Josef Rath, one of our
best surgeons, who died later in Transnistrien and well as my long time
assistant, dr. Bacher, and many long time and deserving nurses of the hospital,
among them the diligent operating room nurse Jenny, who - like uncounted other
innocent people - found their ends in the mass graves of Transnistrien.
In the meantime, the former hospital director Dr. Siegmund Neuberger took
sick and the Jewish Community gave me the provisional leadership of the hospital
until finally naming the new director.
At the end of December, 1942 the Jewish Comunnity was told by the governor to
have the Jewish Hospital evacuated within 10 days (this period was later
extended to 20 days and we took 5 days for ourselves) and to of course, leave
the entire inventory. Our hospital was to be turned into a Romanian military
At the same time, the Jewish Community got the task of finding a suitable
building for setting up the Jewish Hospital.
The Jewish Community agreed on using the house at Stephaniengasse 5 for a
hospital. The dwellers in this house, after long, not very comfortable
negotiations and discussions were situated in another house.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Community after getting instructions from Bucharest was
split into an “Oficiul Evreilor” (the official representatives of the Jews to
the Romanian officialdom) and in a “Comunitates Evreilor” (the Jewish
representatives for internal Jewish affairs). As chairman of the Oficiul
Evreilor Dr. Otto Plitter was chosen and as chairman of the Comunitatea, Dr.
Ludwig Dische was named. The later was in charge of all buildings of the
Community including those with religious functions
Being in charge of health, I was assigned to supervise the installation of
the hospital in its new home. I would like to point out that Dr. Jakob Landau
who at that time functioned as deputy director worked especially hard to move
and set up the hospital in its new quarters.
We had merely 25 days to accomplish this move. The necessary inventory for 60
beds was camouflaged as personal equipment belonging to the hospital personal
and gradually taken out of the old hospital.
We immediately began with the adaptation of the house at Stephaniengasse 5.
Day and night - without interruption - worked masons, painters, carpenters,
plumbers, electricians and other craftsmen.
One large room was equipped as an operating room and a neighboring room was
adapted for a wash and sterilization room. In the yard the out patient clinic,
the kitchen and the laundry were set up.
After 25 days had passed, the hospital was ready to accommodate 65 patients.
Also, apartments were provided for the administrator Schalit, the chief nurse
and other personnel.
Here I would like to point out that Dr. Dische not only quickly put the
necessary funds at our disposal, but also effectively helped me with actions and
At the beginning of March 1943 - in response to my formal suggestion - the
Jewish Community officially named Dr. Jakob Landau as the director of the
Dr. Landau deservedly enjoyed not only the trust of Community, but also
enjoyed the full faith of the hospital doctors.
He held this office until March, 1944 when he made his aliyah [emigration or
literally “going up”] to Eretz Israel. During this one year term of office he
led the hospital in an exemplary manner.
In March 1943, the leadership of the Community selected Dr. Hamburg as
director of the Internal Medicine Department and Dr. Bruno Korn as director of
the Gynecological Department.
The small newly installed hospital at Stephaniengasse 5 was to fulfill an
important roll in the two years following its creation. It had to provide
medical care for 12,000 Jews and enjoyed great popularity among the reduced
number of Jews with medical problems.
I should stress at this point that very many Polish Jewish refugees who had
succeeded in escaping the Gestapo and coming into Romania were taken in by the
Jewish hospital and here - thanks to Dr. Landau - received excellent care. From
here, many were able to reach Bucharest and from there, illegally reach Eretz
I would also like to mention the great service given by our Landsleut [fellow
countrymen] Dr. Sigmund Bibring, Berthold Sobel and Salo Schmidt who were
responsible for the “Centrala Evreilor” in Bucharest providing the necessary
funds to maintain the hospital and in addition provided it generously with
medicines, bandages and other utensils which couldn't be obtained in Czernowitz.
In the years that followed there were no occurrences in the Jewish Hospital
noteworthy of special mention.
After Dr. Landau left, the oldest female doctor in the hospital, Frau Dr.
Wilelnko was entrusted with the leadership of the hospital.
In conclusion, I would like to mention the following: At the end of March
1944, the German-Romanian troops were forced to retreat from Czernowitz which
the civilian authorities also had to leave since the Russian troops were
advancing and approaching Czernowitz. At this point, the State Hospital as well
as the Romanian Military Hospital in Synagogengasse (which had been converted
from the former Jewish Hospital, along with its entire inventory) were evacuated
and the total inventory of both institutions was taken away to the Old Kingdom
When the advancing Russians entered Czernowitz, the only hospital available
to them was the small Jewish Hospital at Stephaniengasse 5. Therefore, all the
civilian patients had to be sent home so that urgent cases, especially those
from the nearby front with projectile wounds could be taken care of. In a few
hours the little hospital was overfilled.
At the end of April, 1944, an order was issued by Marshal Stalin directed to
all civilian and military authorities which was also announced on the radio and
published in the press that all directors and leaders of factories, institutions
and organizations or every type, no matter where they were to be found should
immediately be set free so that they could return to their former workplaces
which they had to leave in the years 1941/42 because of the Nazi invasion.
In connection with this directive, I received a letter from the Health
Ministry which freely quoted read:
“You are herewith named as director of Hospital II in Czernowitz, the post
you held in June 1941. You must start work immediately. At the same time, you
are named as leader of the surgical section of this hospital. You must
immediately get in contact with all the responsible local officials.”
On May 5, 1944 the refurbishing and renovation of the Jewish Hospital on
From that day on, a large sign with the words “State Hospital II of
Czernowitz.” stood above the entrance of the hospital.
The temporary location of the Jewish Hospital in Stephaniengasse 5 was closed
and at that time the Jewish Hospital in Czernowitz ceased to exist.