The Fate of a Jewish Veterinarian in Germany
In 1933, when Hitler came to power, there were between 8-9000 Jewish doctors in Germany. By 1937, only 4000 remained. In July, 1938, a new law went into effect, which stated that by the end of September of that year, all licenses of Jewish doctors would be revoked1. As part of the overall process of “purification”, Jewish veterinarians were also prohibited from practicing their profession. We do not have accurate statistics for the number of veterinarians that were affected by this decree.
In August 1934, in order to take the final exams in the study for veterinary medicine, a student had to prove that he was an integrated member of German society. In addition, he had to prove that he had fulfilled his obligation for National Service. It was forbidden for Jews to join in the National Service- hence, they could not complete their studies and become licensed to practice2. By April 1935, it was decided that only those of the Aryan race could take their final exams and become veterinarians. Exemptions to this decree would be granted only if there were justifiable reasons3.
In 1939, a new law decreed that the licenses of all practicing Jewish doctors, dentists, pharmacists and veterinarians would be revoked4.
Dr. Abraham Hoexter, born in 1865, served as the veterinarian in the town of Treysa (near the city of Kassel) and the surrounding area beginning in 1897. In his laboratory he worked on developing an antidote for hoof and mouth disease. When Hitler came to power, Dr. Hoexter and his wife tried to emigrate, but were prohibited from doing so by the Nazi government which declared that by leaving the country, Dr. Hoexter would in effect be encouraging other educated professionals to leave as well.
Beginning in 1936 Dr. Hoexter was forced to suspend his practice and research. Two years later, there was a terrible outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in Treysa. Dr. Hoexter’s expertise was invaluable and many local farmers requested his help. As he no longer had access to any medical equipment, Dr. Hoexter turned to an employee of the local hospital, Titus Froehling, to lend him a syringe so that he could vaccinate the sick animals.
The news of Hoexter’s assistance to the local farmers spread and finally reached the ears of the local Nazi party chief. The 73 year old veterinarian, together with Froehling, were forced to stand in the center of town surrounded by jeering members of the SA and Hitler youth who screamed obscenities and antisemitic epithets at them.
Dr. Hoexter was finally allowed to return home. Froehling was sent to prison for 14 days. In addition, an article was published in the local paper accusing Hoexter of actually spreading the disease amongst the livestock of the local farmers5.
The son of the Hoexters, Dr. Werner Hoexter who had escaped to Palestine in the mid 1930’s, returned to Treysa after the war to uncover additional information about his parents. A local farmer gave him these pictures. It is unclear if the farmer took the photographs or merely had them in his possession.
The photographs of Dr. Hoexter were given to Yad Vashem by his granddaughter- Dr. Miriam Hoexter. They visually complete a story heretofore only known to us through written documentation.