SIR LUDWIG GUTTMAN (1899-1980) WHEREFORE IS THIS KNIGHT DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHERS? READ ABOUT THIS REMARKABLE MAN AND SEE THE VIDEO
As one of my regular readers has emailed me this morning, prompting this short post, it’s gratifying to see neurosurgeon Sir Ludwig Guttmann (1899-1980), “Father of the Paralympics,” arise from relative obscurity to all but the cognescenti and be given his due place in the media spotlight this year. To its credit, the BBC has made a fascinating documentary about this Jewish refugee from Nazism who, like so many of his type, contributed so appreciably to their host societies. (The video is below; hat tip Ian)
Thanks in large part to the dedication and expertise of Dr Michael Jolles, a London physician and an historian of Anglo-Jewry, the Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History contains potted biographies of numerous highly distinguished medicos and scientists from Nazi persecution who fled to Britain, much to Britain’s enrichment.
Here’s the in-a-nutshell entry for Sir Ludwig:
“Born in Tost, Upper Silesia, the son of an innkeeper and distiller, he took refuge in Britain in 1939. In 1944 he became foundation Director of the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Convinced that paraplegics would gain physical, therapeutic, and psychological benefits from sport, an idea that was revolutionary at the time, he organised, in 1948 on the hospital lawn, competitive games for the disabled to coincide with the Olympic Games that were being held in London. In 1952 the so-called Stoke Mandeville Games involved over 130 competitors, and were awarded the Fearnley Cup in 1956 for their promotion of the Olympic spirit. They developed into the Paralympic Games, first held in Rome in 1960 and held ever since immediately after the Olympics. In 1960 Guttmann founded the Association of the Disabled. He retired from Stoke Mandeville in 1966 and in 1976 published his Textbook of Sport for the Disabled. Appointed OBE (1950) and CBE (1960) he was knighted in 1966.”
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