Georg Barkan

born on 03/22/1889 in Polotsk/Belarus
died on 03/07/1945 in Brookline/Massachusetts

DGIM Member 1925 – 1940

Georg Barkan was born in Belarus and grew up in Breslau. He was the son of the Jewish merchant Salomon Barkan and his wife Julie Losinsky.1 He graduated from the Johannesgymnasium in Breslau in 1908. He studied medicine in Freiburg, Breslau and Munich, where he passed the state examination in 1914 and was awarded a doctorate with distinction from the Institute of Physiology.2

During World War I, he served as a medical officer on the Western Front in Flanders and on the Somme, and later at the flying school of the Lechfeld air base.3

Experience in Munich, Frankfurt, Würzburg, and Dorpat

He returned to the Munich Physiological Institute under Otto Frank in 1919, but soon moved to the Würzburg University Medical Clinic under Paul Morawitz. He arrived at the Pharmacological Institute of the Frankfurt University Clinic under Alexander Ellinger and his successor Werner Lipschitz in 1923.4 He was registered at the address Mylinsstrasse 265.5 He habilitated in pharmacology and toxicology in 1927. He accepted an appointment as full professor of pharmacology at the University of Dorpat (Tartu) in Estonia in 1929, but remained a member of the Frankfurt faculty and was considered "on leave."6

Working as a German professor in Estonia was fraught with tension against the backdrop of Estonian nationalism and German-Baltic history. Barkan was dismissed in 1937, because he had no intention of learning Estonian.7 He returned to Germany via Switzerland for a short time, despite the persecution of Jews.8

Escape to the USA

Barkan boarded the "SS Europa" in Bremen with his wife Charlotte Auguste Milch (1894-1968) and his 13-year-old son Gunther on October 29, 1938, and emigrated to Boston.9 He already knew Boston and some colleagues there from a trip in 1929.10 Upon entering the U.S., he indicated "Hebrew" for "race",11 although he had been entered as "Protestant" on the Bremen passenger list. Barkan settled in Brookline in Norfolk County/Massachusetts and worked as a teaching fellow and assistant professor at the department of biochemistry at Boston University.12

Georg Barkan died in Brookline before the end of the war at the age of 55. He left behind an extensive body of scientific work, dealing primarily with questions of the iron metabolism as well as iodine pharmacology.13 More than 100 papers were written by him, including publications in "Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archiv für Experimentelle Pathologie und Pharmakologie", which he had co-edited for a time.14


Bavarian Main State Archive Munich, division IV Kriegsarchiv (war archive), Kriegsstammrollen (war rolls), 1914-1918, vol. 18926; edd., Kriegsrangliste, Vol.1, Sanitäts-Offiziere (medical officers), No. 1. See Isidor Fischer, Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Ärzte der letzten fünfzig Jahre, Vol. 1, Berlin a.o. 1932, p. 72; Georg Barkan, Zur Frage der Reizleitung im Säugetierherzen, Diss. med. München 1914.Bavarian Main State Archive Munich, Division IV Kriegsarchiv, Kriegsstammrollen, 1914-191, vol. 18926; ibid., Kriegsrangliste: vol. 1, Sanitäts-Offiziere, No.1.See Isidor Fischer, Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Ärzte der letzten fünfzig Jahre, Vol. 1, Berlin a.o. 1932, p. 72.Verhandlungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Innere Medizin 37 (1925), p. XVII. Udo Benzenhöfer, Die Universitätsmedizin in Frankfurt am Main von 1914 bis 2014, Münster 2014, p. 114.See Terje Löbu. Eesti ülikool versus saksa keel. Georg Barkani ja Ernst Masingu juhtum, in: Tartu Ülikooli ajaloo küsimusi 44 (2016), pp. 81–95, p. 94.See Udo Benzenhöfer, Die Universitätsmedizin in Frankfurt am Main von 1914 bis 2014, Münster 2014, p. 114.See State Archive Bremen, passenger list Europa, 10/29/1938, No. AIII15-29.10.1938-3_N, Folio 16f (, accessed 12/12/2019).National Archives, Washington, D.C., Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, 1891–1943, Micropublication T843, RG085, Roll 349, 18.8.1929.National Archives at Boston, Title: Petitions and Records of Naturalization, 8/1845–12/1911, NAI Number: 3000057, Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009, Record Group Number: RG 21, no. 282512.See New York Times, 8.3.1945, p. 23.See for many: Georg Barkan, Eisenstudien. Über das leicht abspaltbare Bluteisen und sein Verhältnis zum Hämoglobin, in: Hoppe-Seyler´s Zeitschrift für physiologische Chemie, 171, 4-6 (1927), pp. 179–193 (habilitation dissertation); Georg Barkan, Jodtherapie. Aus dem Pharmakologischen Institut der Universität Dorpat, Munich 1932.See also Anonymus, Dr. Georg Barkan, in: The Hartford Courant, 8.3.1945, p. 4.

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