Joannes Juda Groen was the son of diamond cutter Andries Groen (1875-1956) and his wife Grietje Kool (1879-1943). He grew up in Amsterdam. After completing his studies (medical examination in 1927) and turning to internal medicine at the Wilhelmina Gasthuis of the Medical Faculty of the University of Amsterdam, at the Middlesex and St. Bartholomew hospitals in London, and as a Rockefeller Fellow at Harvard Medical School (Thorndike Memorial), the internist was appointed chief physician at the Wilhelmina Gasthuis in 1936. From then on, Groen advocated holistic medicine and the integration of psychological-sociological methods. In addition to his duties in patient care and as a university lecturer, he devoted his research to clinical chemistry, especially to the areas of diabetes, metabolic diseases, and nutrition.1
Doctor in the Underground
During the German occupation of the Netherlands, Groen was denied access to the clinic and its research facilities. Persecuted as a Jew and a homosexual, he went underground for a time, caring for the sick and injured.
He was again able to take over the management of the Wilhelmina Gasthuis in 1945. Here he founded a psychosomatic research group. Groen accepted an appointment as professor of internal medicine at the University of Jerusalem in 1958, where he continued his clinical and preclinical research on the psychosomatic causes of disease. He returned to the Netherlands in 1968, and took up a professorship in methods of psychobiological research at Leiden University.He co-founded the Foundation for Interdisciplinary Behavioral Research (SIGO) after his retirement in 1974.
Commemoration and Appeal at the Wiesbaden Congress 1967
Groen intensively observed the development of internal medicine in Germany. He repeatedly attended the Wiesbaden congresses. In 1967, he took the lecture he gave there on a topic of psychosomatic medicine as an opportunity to formulate historical-political thoughts:
"It has only been 35 years since I last attended this congress of the German Society of Internal Medicine in 1932 as a young Dutch assistant physician for [sic]. Now I return for the first time from [sic] my present place of work at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in the new State of Israel. Under these circumstances, my participation in this congress is not only of technical-medical significance; it also has a personal and symbolic aspect [...]. It seems to me that in the role we have played personally, in what has happened since 1933, we have all since become aware that we are not continuing our work now, as if nothing particular had occured. We have become aware through this past that we all now have a human task to fulfill in addition to our medical and scientific work. Especially as physicians and as scientists, it is now our task to investigate the causes of what happened and to prevent a repetition, which could not only play out in Germany. Only thus, it seems to me, can todays' medicine and science contribute to the welfare and recovery of all of mankind."2