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Medicine: Hitler’s Throat

2 minute read

Several years ago Adolf Hitler asked the world’s greatest otolaryngologist, Professor Heinrich von Neumann of Vienna, to examine his larynx. Dr. von Neumann had as patients and friends England’s George VI and Duke of Windsor, Spain’s Alfonso, Rumania’s Carol, Greece’s George, Austria’s late Emperor Charles. But he is an orthodox Jew and he turned Hitler down. Last spring, when Hitler entered Austria, Dr. von Neumann was imprisoned and released upon the plea of the Duke of Windsor.

Last week to the Philadelphia meeting of the Inter-State Postgraduate Medical Association went Hitler’s second choice: burly, brown-eyed Dr. Carl von Eicken, head of Berlin University’s otolaryngology department. Dr. von Eicken, who said that the “greatest thrill” of his U. S. visit was a sight of the Statue of Liberty, spoke freely about his patient.

When he diagnosed Hitler’s ailment as a “simple polyp” (small benign growth, round and stemmed like a pea), on his larynx, Hitler refused at first to believe him. The Chancellor had been convinced that he had cancer. Removal of the polyp from the larynx, a simple throat-cutting operation that many a physician (and layman) would be glad to have the chance to do for Herr Hitler, was very easy.

But when Dr. von Eicken gave Hitler a small amount of morphine as a sedative the Chancellor slept for 14 hours. “I was quite concerned” . . . said the physician. After the operation, he continued, “I warned him to speak softly for a few days, and against letting his emotions lead him to shout and scream loudly. … He admitted he had been told that before, but forgot himself during a speech.”

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