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Lucja Frey-Gottesman

Born  1889
Died  1942

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Polish physician, born November 3, 1889, Lwów; died 1942.

Biography of Lucja Frey-Gottesman

Lucja Frey-Gottesman was born in the Polish city of Lwów, then Lemberg, capital of Galizia, in Austria-Hungary, now Lviv in Ukraine. She was the daughter of Szymon Frey, a building contractor, and Dina Frey. She attended the primary school at the Benedictine convent 1896-1900, then 1900-1907 the Jewish Goldblatt-Kammerling Gymnasium for girls. On October 10, 1907, she graduated as an extern pupil from the Staatliches Franziszka-Jósefa-Gymnasium. All these schools were in here native city of Lemberg.

Lucja Frey initially read philosophy at the University of Lemberg, then changed to the study of mathematics under Professor Marian Smoluchowski (1872-1917) at the University of Lemberg from 1908 to 1912. She passed her teacher's examination in 1913. She became a Polish citizen in 1919.

Frey commenced her medical study in Warsaw in 1917 and received her diploma on June 23, 1923. For several years she was the assistant of Professor Kazimierz Orzechowsky, first at Lwów, later at the neurological clinic of the Warsaw, 1923-1928.

She is then assumed to have returned to Lwów, where she married Marek Gottesman, a lawyer, and assumed the name Lucja Frey-Gottesman. From early May 1929 she was deputy physician-in-chief at the of an outpatients' department of the prestigious Jewish Hospital on Rappaporta Street in Lwów. Her daughter Danuta was born in 1930.

After the Soviet occupation of Lwów on September 19, 1939 her husband Marked was arrested and killed by Soviet police. From June 30, 1939, Lwów was occupied by the Germans and Lucja Frey, being Jewish, was "resettled" in the Lwów ghetto and worked at the second Ghettopoliklinik at ulica Zamarstynowska 112.

On August 20, 1942, this clinic was liquidated by the Nazis and all patients and staff were murdered directly. However, this did not happen to Lucja, who was probably deported to the death-camp Belzec in August 1942. Between the 10th and 22nd of August 1942, 50.000 deportations took place from the ghetto Lwów to Belzec – this was more than half of the ghetto population. No more physicians and other medical staff should have remained in the ghetto of Lwów. Lucja was too old to work in the labour camp at Janowskastreet. There should have been imprisoned only young and strong men. The last piece of evidence that Lucja was alive is from April 1, 1942 (her permission of work).

Lwów ghetto was liquidated and the last Jews murdered in June 1943. That is probably the reason why the biographers dated her death at this year. The Jewish Committee of Lwów had only 3.000 survivors of approximately 100.000.

Frey was one of the first female academic neurologists in Europe. She was noted by her contemporaries to be quiet and modest but hard-working and methodical, an innovative scientist with an exceptional precision and devotion to objectivity. Much of her work was published in both Polish and French, as it was quite common at that time in Poland for Poles to speak French.

Besides her work on the auriculo-temporal sydrome she in 1925 published a study of the topography of the brain stem, and the same year, with Kazimierz Orzechowski published a work on anatomical changes in myotrophic lateral sclerosis.

We thank Mirjam Moltrecht and Patrick Jucker-Kupper for information submitted.


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    This books has appeared in a revised edition.
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    Känd för sin beskrivning av en gustatoriskt utløst svettning i ansiktet.
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    Frey's syndrome – the untold story. Journal of Medical Biography, London : Royal Society of Medicine. Volume 1, Number 2, 1993, pp. 125-127.
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    "The lady and her syndrome." Lucja Frey (1889-1943.
    CME Bulltin. Otorhinolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery, 201, 5 (3): 111.
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    Dr. med. Lucja Frey. Eine Ärztin aus Lwow 1889-1942. Rekonstruktion eines Lebens. Hartung Gorre Verlag Konstanz, 2004.
  • M. Moltrecht, O. Michel:
    The woman behind Frey`s syndrome: The tragic life of Lucja Frey.
    The Laryngoscope, December 2004, 114: 2005-2009.

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