You are on page 1of 15

Pregledni rad

Acta mcd-hist Adriat 2008;6(1);41-54




Ajnija Omanic^ Zana Dodig-Karaman^, Mevlida Serdarevic^,

jews first came to Bosniii and Herzegovina in the !6th century after having been exiled
from Spain. They ivere successful in several trades in their new surroundings. Many
Jewish families gave more than one doctor or pharmacist. Dr Goldberger and his son Dr
Aleksajidur Goklberger were skilled surgeom; Dr Isak Samokovlija's daughter Rikica
was a paediatrician and a university professor; Dr Sigmund Kaunitz and his sons Oskar
and Pavle, conducted the autopsy on the Archduke Franz Perdinarui, heir to the imperial
throne, and his wife Sophie.
jews have traditioruiUy regarded health cidture as an important issue; their religiim iiicludes
medical ar other precepts, for \\eallhy living, from personal and household hygiene to ritual
ablutions and bathing. Viey were the first to make mecinal preparaticms and to sell them
in thir shops, kmmin iis attar slu)ps. Vie Museum of Sarajevo now treasures the invauory
of cme such centuries-old attar shop, belonging to the Papo family.

' University of Sarajevo, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of .social medicine and history of mcndicine.
Sarajevo, BH.
^ Museiini of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, BH.
' Jewish Museum of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo, BH.
Address for fom'sfxnwfeiici;; Prof. Dr. Ajnija Omanic. Federaini ravod za zaStitii zdravlja. UI. Marala
Tita 9, BH 71000 Sarajevo. Medicinski fakuket Sarajevo, Cekalusa 90.
l:-mail: ajnijaomanici^'


Thanks to their medical skills, Jews even treated the Pashas of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Dr Nisim Zak treated Sijavos Pasha, and Dr hak Salom WCLS Omer Pasha Latas's
Bosnia and Herzegovina owes a lot to the krwivledge and dedication of health-care
uorcers of the Jewish origin. Sarajevo, Mostar, Zenica, Focfa, and Trehinje have named
streets after these humdnists, wfio founded inany imtitutions, and started new disciplines
to address the burning health issits in B&H, and a number of wiwm kid down their
lives to defend &H.

Key words: history of medicine, 16th-20th centuries, physicians, pharmacists,

Jews, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Jews first came to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 16'" century
after having been exiled in 1492 during the reign of Ferdinand I and
Isabella of Castile. They brought along their customs, language, and elegies that, sung on the Bosnian mountain slopes, invoked the golden age of
Cordoba and the aromatic banks of the calm River Tajo (Elazar S, oral
tradition). They also brought along medical and other books written in
Hebrew, Latin, and oriental languages [1].
About 300,000 jews left Spain for an uncertain future, of whom about
100,000 ended up in the Ottoman Empire. Under the rule of the first
sultans and later at the height of the Ottoman Empire, attitudes towards
Jews were liberal. Some sultans even engaged them as their personal
physicians or diplomats. With time, they spread throughout the empire,
and some settled in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first, young settlers
came alone, and were later joined by their families; some of the descendants of these early pioneers are still living there. Though few in number,
Jews made an immense contribution to the humanist, cultural, and economic development of the multinational community of Bosnia and
Herzegovina. They brought along the achievements of the rich and developed Spanish culture and civilization, and their own millennium- old
heritage. Sepbardic Jews brought the Spanish language variant known as
Ladino that they used among themselves. Much later, during the AustroHungarian rule, a considerable number of educated professional Ashkenazi
Jews camefi-omthe north to settle in Bosnia and Herzegovina.



According to Dr Glck, Jews worked with Turkish physicians as assistants, learning the secrets of the trade. Bosnian Jews also learned medical
skills from their forebears, and from many treatises in Spanish, Latin, and
oriental languages. They passed on this knowledge to their descendants
and beirs.
Jews were highly successful in their new environment, not only in
medicine, pharmacy and dentistry, but also in other branches of the economy, writing, banking and so on.
Jews traditionally regarded health care as an important issue; their
religion includes many medical and other precepts ranging from perstmal
and general hygiene to rirual ablutions and bathing. They were the first to
make and sell medicinal preparations either at home, where they also had
their private surgeries, or in the so called attar shops, or again in wholesale pharmacies where they sold not only medicines, but also herbs, spices,
and cosmetics. The apothecaries could identify every drug and medicinal

Petar Tijesic: Attai i l u . p

Petar Tijesic: Alarsku Ijckarria


plant by its appearance and smell, and knew for which ailments to use
them. They would maintain a register of medicines, instructions how to
make them and for which ailment to use them, preserving thus their trade
secrets. These records would he handed down from father to son. Much
of their raw material came from Dubrovnik, Venice and Istanbul. The
recipes were written in Spanish, in cursive Hebrew, and the names of some
drugs were written in Italian and Turkish. The drugs came in a variety of
forms: oils, ointments, salves and unguents, syrups, powders, tir pills.
In 1938, all attar shops were closed down. The last two were run by tbe
brothers Avram and Rafael Papo. One was destroyed during the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis, and the other was handed over to the
Croatian Medical Association for its museum collection. The last owner
was Jakov Papo, who had a work permit for the shop dating hack to the
Ottoman period.
According to the local sources, Jozef Haim and Samuel Sumbul practiced medicine in Sarajevo in the late lS^"^ and early 19^'^ century. Samuel
Sumbul's elder son was an apothecary, and the younger opted for medical

Inside the Papo family attar shop

Unutrainjost atarske radnje obitelji Papo

practice. Josef Haim sent bis son Isak to Padua, wbere be graduated in
medicine. Back in Sarajevo, he established avery successful medical practice. He gained recognition for his expertise and skill in caring for people,
and the Turkish authorities in Sarajevo proposed him to represent Bosnian
Jews in the Provincial Council.
According to the local sources, Dr Isak Salom, who was Omer Pasha
Latas's personal physician, was the first physician in Bosnia and Herzegovina
trained in Europe. Samuel and Avram Atijas are referred to as semi-skilled
physicians (so called hecim, from the Turkish /le/cim/Arahic hakim, a physician). Avram was very popular with people, and was granted a licence to
practise hy the Austro-Hungarian authorities. Samuel in turn, was not a
licensed physician, hut was allowed to continue the practice. Until the
late lS^'^ century, Jewish physicians and hecims were mainly based in
Sarajevo, but later they also settled in Banja Luka, Travnik, and Tesnaj.
Isak Papo is known to have practised medicine in Banja Luka, and passed
on his medical and pharmaceutical skills to his son-in-law Kalmi Altarac,
wiio succeeded him in the practice.
Rafael and Dr Nisim Zak graduated from the medical school of Istanbul
and worked in the Military Hospital of Sarajevo. Dr Nisim Zak also treated Sijavos Pasha 12,3].

God and Mother Nature bestowed good health, longevity, and intelligence on these people, enabling them to work and to create to the very
end of their lives for the welfare of their people and the community to
which they belonged. They were well-liked by the people, who gave rhem
nicknames as a sign of affection [4,5]. In the B-SiH Academy t)f Sciences
and Arts, Jakob Gaon was known as nas Jasa (our Jasa), pharmacologist
Samuel Elazar was called Sami, partisan nurse Hanika Altarac was known
as Nurse Vuje, and so on.
Most Jewish health-care workers were not only highly skilled professionals, but also founded certain medical disciplines, and were active in
cultural and public circles. Dr Isak Samokovlija was an outstanding medical practitioner and health-care educator who was appointed head of the
health-care education department of the Ministry of Health of Bosnia and
Herzegovina in 1946. He was also the first editor of the healthcare perio45

dical Zivot i zdravlje {Ufe and Health), and treated healthcare topics in his
literary work.
Only a few years after Wilhelm Konrad Rntgen puhlished his research
on X rays in Europe, on 8 November 1895. in Wiirzhurg, Dr Prajndlsherger
demonstrated an X-ray machine made by Reineger, Gehbert and Schall,
purchased by the Provincial Government in Sarajevo for? the Provincial
Hospital of Sarajevo.
Dr Pavle Kaunic, son of Dr Sigmund Kaunic, and his brother Oskar
Kaunic, were members of the medical team conducting the autopsy on the
heir to the imperial throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife
In 1913 Dr Pavle Kaunic was appointed assistant of the forensic department of the Provincial Hospital in Sarajevo. During World War I, he
worked as a hygienist and bacteriologist. After the war, he returned to his
position in the Sarajevo hospital. He was appointed head of the
Epidemiology Institute in Sarajevo in 1925, and was the head of the Public
Health Authority in Sarajevo from 1929.
As these and other examples show, many Jewish families produced
several doctors, pharmacists, and dentists {Dr Isak Samokovlija and his
daughter. Professor Rikica Samokovlija Najdanovic; Dr Adolf Goldberger
and his son Dr Aleksandar Goldherger; Dr Pavel Stern and his son Dr
Milan tern, a psychiatrist).
Academician Dr Ernest Grin was a prominent scientist who began his
wt)rk in Bosnia and Herzegovina by seeking to eradicate endemic syphilis
ftom the rural areas of the Gazin frontier region and Foca. Following
World War II, he worked for the Ministry of Public Health of the People's
Repuhlic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he was engaged in reorganizing the health care service in Bosnia and Herzegovina and setting up a
programme for teams of field workers to combat numerous and mainly
infectious diseases that were rampant in many isolated mountain regions,
causing the death of the young and old alike. In 1946 he hecame the head
of the Gentral Dermatolgica! and Venereal Dispensary, sending out hundreds of field teams to comhat syphilis and ftingal diseases all over Bosnia
and Herzegovina, He passed on his experience to others as a World Health
Organization expert working in Thailand, Sudan, Indonesia, Nigeria,
Tunis, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. His experience in eradicating syphilis and
fungal diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina brought world-wide scientific
and professional fame to both Academician Grin and his country. His

Pharmacist Samuel Elazar in his student days

Mr. Ph. Samuel Elazar kao student

research contributions "Epidemiology and Control of Endemic Syphilis"

and "Human and Animal Dermatophytes" are of national and international renown. His working methodology and the experience he gained
combating endemic syphilis and fungal diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina
were recommended by the World Health Organization. His lectures were
accompanied by photographs taken in the field in order to give his students a taste of burning public health issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Academician Jakoh Gaon was known for eradicating typhus and lice
infestations in an outbreak affecting more than 40,000 people in eastern
Bosnia. When he ran out of the glass slides needed for microscopy, he had
more slides made from old window glass. In combating the ignorance
about the disease in eastern Bosnia, Gaon was assisted by local teachers.
As a sign of gratitude for the help he gave a married couple of teachers a
subscription to the periodical Zivot i zdravlje.


Pharmacist Samuel Elazar in his pharmacy

Mr. Ph. Samuel Elazar u Ijekami

Academician Pavao Stem studied P substance to shed light on some

neuromuscular diseases. He is regarded one o( the most eminent histamine researchers at home and abroad.
Samuel Elazar, who had a master's degree in pharmacy, was not only a
skilled practical worker, but also a prominent historian of medicine and
pharmacy in Btisnia and Herzegovina. He was one of the founders of the
Jewish Museum in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1969, and the first to write
a study on establishing a healthcare museum in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He proposed the old Turkisb military hospital in Sarajevo for this purpose,
but, sadly, it was destroyed during the 1992-1995 war. He wrote the only
bibliography of the works of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and related
fields published in Bosnia and Herzegovina up to 1895, a history of the
development of pharmacy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a Bosnian
Romance, now being translated into French. He bad a keen interest in the
study of the cultural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular of
oriental manuscripts and folk medicine, and worked on their translation
with several orientalists.


Jewish healthcare workers were expert professionals and scientists. In

a WW2 German offensive, Hanika Altarac, known as Partisan Nurse
Vuja, amputated a gangrene-infected leg using a needle and razor blade,
saving the injured man's life.
Generally speaking, all known Jewish healthcare workers were eminent
professionals, scientists, managers, and World War II combatants. They
held responsible positions, in particular General Moni Levi, wbo made a
major scientific and professional contribution to publications on partisan
As a mark of appreciation and in memory of prominent Jewisb bealthcare, cultural, and public workers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, many
healthcare institutions and streets bear their names. The health centre in
Gorazde has been named after Dr Isak Samokovljia, the Pharmacology
Institute of the Sarajevo University Medical Schoi)! after Academician
Pavel Stem, and there are streets named after Dr Isidor Papo, Dr Goldberg,
and i>thers in Foca, Mostar, Trebinje, and Zenica.

Jewish healthcare workers in Bi\sni;i and Herzegovina bad a very positive

impact on the organization of healthcare activities dealing with a range of
infectious and non-infectious diseases in the times of emergency and war.
Highly-qualified and semi-qualified healthcare workers were active in these
fields, passing on their knowledge to their descendants and heirs.
They held leading positions in many eminent healthcare institutions,
beaded field teams, and achieved considerable success in eradicaring
infectitius diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There is no doubt that for centuries, particularly during the Ottoman
period, Jews acted as a link between Bosnia and the rest of the world, from
Italy to Holland and far beyond. They occupied a prominent place as an
urban element in economic life and development at all times, from the
Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian time to the two Yugoslavia's and tbe
present day. Jews in Bt^snia and Herzegovina played an important role in
providing the first academically qualified people in various fields: economics, law, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, and every aspect of health care
They also played a major role in the sciences and arts, from founding the
first cultural and artistic societies to their outstanding contribution to the
development of progressive thinking in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


(This list has been compiled from data from the proceedings of the 2"^ Jewish
Historical museum, Belgrade, 973, and data from other available sources,
and should not he regarded as conclusive)

Ljekar Salamon, son of Mojsi

Moro Mogu, son of Isak
Jozef Hajima Salom
Samuel Sumbul
Samuel Atias
Avram Atias


Dr. Isak Jozefa Salom

Papo Avram, his son Santo and

grandson Albert
Isak Papo-Papic and his pupil Kalmi
Altarac "Kalamiko"
Isak Atias and his son Albert
Dr Jakov Trojlih (Treulich)
Dr Snajder (Schneider)
Dr Rihard Poiak Pollak)
Dr Henrih Levenstajn
Dr Ignjat Pordes
Dr Bernhard Cauderer (Zauderer)
Dr Henrih Makijevic
Dr Ferdinand Cajsler
Dr Leopold Glik (Glck)
Dr Aleksandar Grinhut (Grunhut)
Dr Isidor Baum
Dr Jakob Zajdenfeld (Seidenfeld)
Dr Geza Kobler
Dr Rudolf Fiser (Fischer)

Dr Elijas Majer
Dr Moric Lefkovic (Lefkowitz)
Dr Moric Seles (Szllos)
Dr Leo senfeld (Schonfeld)
Dr Jozef Kac (Katz)
Dr Isidor Najman (Neumann)
Rohert Bramer, MPh. (Brammer)
Lujo Hirijman, MPh.
Ernest Finci, MPh.
Aleksandar Susman, MPh.
Mihajlo Finkelstajn, MPh.
O^^' ^^Js- ^Ph. (Weiss)


Dr Uri Adler
Dr Aleksander Band
Dr Samuel Kampos
Dr Jakob Konforti
Dr Samuel Baruh
Dr Salamon Konforti
Dr Ernest First
Dr Rifka Levi
Dr Hans First
Dr Rudolf Levi
Dr Aieksandar
Dr Miler Andrija Friedman
Dr Jozef Gaon
Dr Mordehaj Papo
Dr Jozef Grinherg
Dr M Leon Parie
Dr Aleksandar Hercog
Dr Sara Pinto
Dr Alfred Hirsl
Dr Jozef Salom
Dr Isak Izrael
Dr Sion Samika
Dr Izak I Sima
Dr Adolf Sternberg
Dr Isak Alfandari
Dr Izidor Levi
Dr Kalmija Jakov Altarac
Dr Salamon Moni Levi
Dr Albert Atias
Dr Ltira J. Nahmijas
Dr Moric Branko Atias
Dr Elazar Ovadia
Dr Samuel Baruh "Kici"
Dr Izidor Papo

Dr Jozefa Berta Bergman

Dr Rafael Papo
Dr Roza Fertig
Dr Roza Papo
Dr Leon J. Finci
Dr David Pinto
Dr Jonas Fi^bah
Dr Leon Pinto
Dr Mario Grajf
Dr Mario J. Romano
Dr Ernest J. Grin
Dr Fisi Rozencvajg
Dr Simon Griner
Dr Hinko Sale
Dr Eduard Han
Dr Ment D. Salom
Dr Ezra E. Kajon
Dr Rafael B. Salom
Dr Jakov L. Kauf
Dr Laura M. Sprung
Dr Pavle Kaunic
Dr Fridrih Stajnberg
Dr Gustav Keler
Dr Gertruda A. Stern
Dr Jozef Konforti
Dr Miroslav Svarc
Dr Hajim Bukus Levi
Dr Mojsije Milan Zon
Dr Jozef Salom
Dr Isak Samokovlija
Dr Isak Izrael
Dr Ziga Bauer
Dr Rafael Papo



Altarac Mordehaj, MPK.

Sado Kunorti, MPh.
Vera Ast-Kun, MPh.
Isidor Levi senior, MPh.
Sigmund Beker , MPh.
Isidor Levi junior , MPh.
Blanka Danon, MPh.
Santo Papo, MPh.
JozefM. Elazar, MPh.
Sua Salom, MPb.
Leopold Joki, MPh.
Aleksandar Susman , MPh.
Aron Kabiljo, MPh.
Maks Vajntraub, MPh.
Olga Kampos, MPh.
Ida Vajs-Sajden , MPh.
Mirjana Eerera, MPh.
Josip Smikler, MPh.
Milan B. Ajzenstajn, MPh.
Artur Kraus, MPh.


Rahela Albahari, MPh.

Zlata PapO'Pajic, MPh.
Dragica Belic-Sporcic, MPh.
Lea D. Pinto-Remeni, MPh.
Lujza J. Bergman, MPh.
Mira Salom-Papo, MPb.
Alfred Bramer , MPh.
Emil-Mika Starver, MPh.
Emest Bramer , MPh.
Sigfrid-Fric Susman , MPh.
Nunca Cackez, MPh.
Velimir Svecenski, MPh.
Bruno Einkel^tajn , MPh.
Bela Stajner, MPh.
Ljudevit Eiser , MPh.
Oto Vajs, MPh.
Vukica Kajon-Rikov, MPh.
Jakov Sumbul -first graduate
pharmacist in BH.


{Details obtained through the good offices of Mrs Dragica Levi and Mr.

Danilo Nikolic of the Jewish Community of Sarajevo)

Dr. Jakob Gaon

Samuel Elazar, MPh.
Dr Ivo Herlinger
Dr Jozcf Konfbrte
Dr Avram Pinto
Dr Albert Musafija
Dr Adolf Goidbcrgcr
Dr Vilijam Vagman
Dr Marija Vagner
Dr Regina Atijas
Dr Avram Aibahari
Dr Lonika Finci
Dr Tibor Salamon
Dr Pavie Stem
Dr Milan Stem
Dr Sigmund Kaunitc
Dr Leopold Kaufer
Dr Avram Banih
Dr Mario Levi
Dr Drago Stekl
Dr Flora Ilcs-Musafija

Dr Rozika Svarc
Dr Aleksandar Goidbcrgcr
Dr Romano Samuel
Dr Vili Vagman
Dr Branko Samek
Dr Milan Goldner
Dr Rikica Samokovlija-Najdanovic
Dr Gcrtruda Stem
Dr Jakob Altarac
Dr Svagcr
Dr Stajnbcrg
Dr Rener
Dr Rozcncvajg
Dr Ginzberg
Mr Zak Mandilovic
Mihajlo Abinu, MPh.
Dr Milivoj Stezingcr
Dr Stefan Goldman
Dr Egon Rajner
( The last three names were added
after the exhibition)



Proti M, Haim Salom 1. J. Prvi diplomirani lekar bosanski Jevrejin. The first
Bosnian Jewish doctor of medicine. In Serfjan I Med arh 1956;10(2):119-25.


Samuel R Jevrejski hecimi i atari u Bosni za tursko Joba. [Jewish hems and
attars in the Ottoman Btisnia. In Bosnian]. Med arh 1947;]:93-8.


Fabijanic R. Pojava attara i njihova djelatnost u Sarajcvu u turskom periodu.

Attars and their trade in the Ottoman Sarajevo. In Bosnian]. Zbomik radova
sa simpozija Atari i njihov doprinos razvoju farmacije u BiH. Sarajevo: Avicena,
Biblioteka naucni i struni radovi, 1999., pp. 7-22.


Iz attarskog duana Sarajevske porodice Papo. [From the attar shop of the
Sarajevan family Papo, in Bosran] Sarajevo: Muzej Sarajeva, 1999., pp 1-58.


Muzej Jevreja BiH. Izlozba jevreji - medicinski radnici u Bosni i Hercegovini,

Sarajevo, Muzej Sarajeva, novembar 2006. Jewish Museum of Bosnia and
Herzegovina. Exhibition Jews: Healthcare Professionals in Bosnia and
Herzcfjovina, Sarajevo. Museum of Sarajevo, November 2iX)6.)


Duricic A, Samuel E. Preg[ed Istorije farmacije Btisne i Hercegtwine. |A bistorical review of pbarmacy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Bosnian] Sarajevo:
Centralni higijenski zavi>d, 1958.


Zidovi su u Bosnu i Hercegovinu dosli u XVI. stoljecu nakon Sto su pod pritiskom
morali napustiti Spanjolsku. U novoj sredini djelovali su uspjesno u brojnim djelatnostima. MiKjge od zidovskih ohitelji iznjedrile su vise Ujeinika i Ijekamika, kmnije i drugih
profila zdravstvenih radnika. Dr. Goldberger i rijegm' sin dr. Aleksandar Goldherger
bili su vTsni kkurzi; dr. sak Samokovlija i njegova kci Rikica, profesorica pedijatrije, dr
Sigmund Kaunitz i njegovi sinovi Oskar i Pavle, od kojih je potonji bio clan Ijenickog
tima pri aulopsiji prestohruisljcdnika Ferdinanda i njegove supruge Sofije.
Zidovi su tradicionalno pridavali zjiacenje zdravstvenoj kulturi, a uporiSte rudaze u vjeri
koja propisuje medidmke i druge mjere za zdrav zivot pocevsi od odrzavanja /ligijaie
tijela, kuce i okuiice do ritualnog pranja i kupanja. Prvi su poeli praviti pomoia
Ijekoviui sredstva i prodavati ih u svojim t:;v. atarskim rudnjama. Inventar takve atarske
radnje ohiielji Papo, koja se stoljecmui rudazilii na istorne mjestu, kao raritel nalazi se
u Muzeju Sarajeva.
Zaiwaijujuci vjestinav\a lijecenja Ziovisu lijec' uslolicei^e pase u OSTU i Hercegovtr. Tako
je dr. Nisirn Zak Ujeio Sijavos pcdu, a dr. sak Salum je bio lijek Omer Pase Lauisa.
Znanjem i poirtvovanoscu mnog zdravstveni radnici iidovskog podrijetla zaduzili su
bosarukohercegovaht javnost, gradove i pojedince u svim oblastiina ivotd. V Sarajevu,
Mostaru, Zenici, Foci i Trebinju i drugim mjestimti ulice nose imeiui tih humanih
Ijudi koji su bili osniva brojnih ustanova, zaietnici disciplina koje su bile potrehne u
rjeSavanju vodece patohgije u populaciji Bosne i Hercegovine, a ne mali broj njih poloiio
je zivot u obrani Bosne i Hercegovine.
Kljucne riieci: povijest medicine, XVI. - XX. stoljece, lijenici, Ijekamici, idovi, Bosna
i -ercegovina