Ludwik Hirszfeld

Ludwik Hirszfeld

The Story of One Life

Translated by Marta A. Balinska

Edited by Marta A. Balinska, William H. Schneider

eBook for Handhelds

University of Rochester Press



An annotated English translation of the autobiography of Polish microbiologist Ludwik Hirszfeld (1884-1954), with a focus on his contributions to international public health.
Ludwik Hirszfeld (1884-1954), one of the most prominent serologists of the twentieth century, discovered the inheritance and established the nomenclature of blood groups and opened the field of human population genetics. He also carried out groundbreaking research in the genetics of disease and immunology. Following World War II, he founded Poland's first Institute of Immunology in Wroclaw, which now bears his name. His autobiographical memoir, The Story of One Life, first published in Poland in 1946, immediately became a bestseller and has been reedited several times since. It is an outstanding account of a Holocaust survivor and a writer capable of depicting the uniqueness and the tragedy of countless individuals caught up in the nightmare of 1939-45. He recollects his time as a physician in the Serbian army in 1915 and his satisfaction as a scientist who helped rebuild Poland after the Treaty of Versailles; in so doing the contrast between the world before and the world after World War II could not be starker. Hirszfeld wrote this book while in hiding after he escaped from the Warsaw ghetto in 1943; he buried the manuscript and retrieved it only after the war.
Drawing on interviews with Hirszfeld's former students and family, as well as unpublished documents, this translation is annotated and has an introduction written by two scholars with unique qualifications to understand both the immediate setting in which Hirszfeld lived his life, and the broader implications of his work to the history of medicine.

Marta A. Balinska is a writer and an international consultant in public health.
William H. Schneider is professor of history at Indiana University.


15 black and white, 2 line illustrations
508 pages
9x6 in
Rochester Studies in Medical History
Paperback, 9781580464598, April 2013
Hardback, 9781580463386, August 2010
eBook for Handhelds, 9781580468671, August 2010
University of Rochester Press
BISAC BIO017000, MED050000, MED105000
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Table of Contents

Foreword by Arthur E. Mourant
Introduction by Marta A. Balinska and William H. Schneider
Foreword by Ludwik Hirszfeld to the original 1946 edition
University Years
Assistantship in Heidelberg
Sojourn in Zurich
The Great War
Armée d'Orient
Home Again
Life in Warsaw
Life within the Institute
Scientific Activities
Scientific Meetings
International Congress of Anthropologists in Amsterdam; Opening of Schools of Hygiene in Budapest and Zagreb
The 1935 Blood Transfusion Congress in Rome
The 1937 International Congress in Paris
The 1937 International Cancer Congress in Brussels
The 1939 General Pathology Congress in Rome
Medical Academy in Paris; French Youth
A Home in the Sun
The Autumn Draws On
Before the Storm
The Siege of Warsaw
The City of Death
Lectures and Courses
Typhus in the District
The Health Council
In the Shadow of the Church of All Saints
Race or Tradition?
The Beginning of the End
Leap into the Unknown
The Life of an Obscure Man
My Evening Song
My Greatest Defeat
The Origins of This Book
Extermination Camps
The Last Upsurge of a Perishing Nation
A Chased Animal
The Turning Point for the Jewish Nation
The Great Guilt
Appendix: Biographical Annex of Frequently Cited Names


Balinska and Schneider should be applauded. . . today's readers will find it an intriguing piece of cutting-edge experimental science, an example of the relation between political context and individual fate, while the contemporary story makes for a fascinating read. . . a major achievement. COMPTES RENDUS

A thoughtful and highly historical read that belongs in any biography collection. MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

Fascinating on many accounts. . . The University of Rochester Press's Studies in Medical History series has just attained new heights. FORWARD.COM

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