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Professor Dr Med Oskar Fehr: The Fate of an Outstanding German–Jewish Ophthalmologist An Early Contributor to Cornea and External Disease

Lisch, Walter MD; Mannis, Mark J. MD, FACS

doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000000160
Special Article

Purpose: The aim of this study was to recount the immense and abrupt change in the private and professional life of a prominent German–Jewish ophthalmologist in the transition from democracy to dictatorship in Germany during the first half of the 20th century.

Methods: This involves a Retrospective analysis of Fehr's clinical and scientific work as the first assistant of Julius Hirschberg's world-famous eye clinic in Berlin; evaluation of Fehr's successful tenure as a chair of Virchow's Eye Hospital; the catastrophic influence of Hitler's seizure of power on the private and professional lives of German–Jewish physicians; and an analysis of Fehr's personal and professional will to continue the practice of medicine in England.

Results: Oskar Fehr published >50 articles and was the first to describe the endemic swimming pool conjunctivitis. He was the first to specifically distinguish granular, lattice, and macular corneal dystrophies. Professor Oskar Fehr was the chair of one of the most important eye clinics in Germany for nearly 30 years. The “Anti-Jewish Medical Laws” with their terrible consequences on private and professional lives led to Fehr's emigration from his homeland to England in 1939. He obtained a British medical doctor degree after 4 years of study, and at an advanced age, he demonstrated his determination to practice ophthalmology successfully in London. Oskar Fehr died in London on August 1, 1959.

*Department of Ophthalmology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany; and

Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA.

Reprints: Walter Lisch, MD, Kurt-Blaum-Platz 8, Hanau 63450, Germany (e-mail:

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Received April 07, 2014

Accepted April 15, 2014

Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.