Author + information
- Heinrich Taegtmeyer, MD, DPhil∗ ()
- ↵∗University of Texas Medical School at Houston, 6431 Fannin, MSB 1.246, Houston, Texas 77030
As a native German, my heart was warmed by the insightful report by Lüderitz et al. (1). I enjoyed reading about the common roots of the German Cardiac Society and the American College of Cardiology (ACC). The report provides an interesting perspective. Mentioned in passing are the turbulent political times, culminating in World War II and the Holocaust. Little is mentioned, however, about the personal hardships endured by the thousands of refugee scientists. Stripped of their possessions in Germany, many of these academics, physicians, and other professionals lived in poverty in America, deeply grateful and deeply unhappy. They were strangers and afraid in a world they had not made, to paraphrase the poet A.E. Houseman. According to Jean-Michel Palmier (2), doctors, biologists, and professors of medicine expelled from Germany often found themselves in the United States under awkward circumstances. For physicians, it was difficult to practice and avoid competition with the American medical establishment. For academics, it was difficult to find university appointments. Despite their specialized skills (and their willingness to work) many remained unemployed in their professions, with the notable exception of those who arrived already with worldwide reputations. Especially the latter, were subsequently referred to as “Hitler's gift” to the rest of the world (3). Such circumstances are also reflected in the origins of the ACC.
Although Paul Dudley White, a founding father of the American Heart Association, is widely known as an internationalist (4), the situation at hand was very complicated. Therefore, a group of refugee scientists and practitioners of cardiovascular medicine came together to create a new professional home for all cardiologists. Not surprisingly, soon after World War II, and probably in response to the creation of the ACC, the AHA changed its charter to that of a health volunteer organization to become more inclusive and to make room for the ACC (4). Both of our professional organizations have peacefully coexisted ever since, to the benefit of our entire profession—especially those who now add “FACC, FAHA” to their credentials. Let's relish our history!
- American College of Cardiology Foundation
- Lüderitz B.,
- Holmes D.R.,
- Harold J.
- Palmier J.M.
- Medawar J.,
- Pyke D.
- Paul O.