Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Fritz Mainzer and the Jewish Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt

Avi Ohry
Tel Aviv, Israel


Dr. Fritz Mainzer. In ⁨⁨La Voix Juive⁩⁩; Organe Independant Du Judaïsme Intégral, September 22, 1932, page 3. From the collection of the National Library of Israel, courtesy of The Jewish Press in Arab Lands section⁩. 

In 1961, Dr. Fritz Mainzer (1897–1961) was invited to lecture at a medical congress in Wiesbaden, Germany. Unfortunately, a fatal myocardial infarction ended the life and impressive career of this forgotten Jewish physician and scientist.1

Mainzer studied in Heidelberg and Frankfurt-on-Main. He was an assistant to Gustav Georg Embden (1874–1933), a German physiological chemist. Later, he worked with Ernst von Bergmann (1836–1907), a German surgeon and author of a classic work on cranial surgery. He then moved to Hamburg to work with Leopold Lichtwitz (1876-1943), followed by a move in 1930 to Rostock, where he joined Heinrich Curschmann (1846–1910), a German internist from Giessen. A year later, he became a consultant in internal medicine, but an antisemitic article that attacked him personally caused him to resettle in Berlin to work in a municipal hospital. Anti-Jewish laws forced him, like many other scholars, scientists, and physicians, to leave Germany in 1932 and immigrate to Egypt.

Mainzer began his work at the Jewish Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt in September 1932. He served as hospital director until he contracted pericarditis in 1942. Two years later, he started consulting at The Anglo-Swiss Hospital. His more than 300 publications in German, French, English, and Spanish covered many areas of medicine: acid-base balance, renal function, schistosomiasis and bronchial asthma, cardiology, the effects of psychological stress on the heart, complications of pellagra, and more.2-23 His 1941 publication, co-written with the hospital’s chief of surgery Dr. Fritz Katz, reported on a lifesaving procedure for Addison’s disease by grafting an adrenal gland from a cadaver.24

It was his description of a new treatment for stroke using an intravenous drip of aminophylline that made him famous. He was invited to present his findings in France, Spain, and Germany, and was nominated as a distinguished member of the International Cardiological Society Foundation and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.



  1. Jores A. In memoriam Prof. Fritz Mainzer, 23 November 1897 to 9 March 1961. Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 1961;86:1239. German.
  2. Mainzer F, Krause M. The influence of fear on the electrocardiogram. Br Heart J. 1940;2(4):221-30.
  3. Mainzer F. Electrocardiographic study of typhoid myocarditis. Br Heart J. 1947;9(3):145-53.
  4. Mainzer F. Treatment of apoplexy. Lancet. 1948;1(6507):771.
  5. Mainzer F. Menstrual disorders in pellagra. Acta Med Scand. 1949;132(4):384-91.
  6. Mainzer F. Aminophylline treatment of apoplexy. Nervenarzt. 1953;24(7):278-86.
  7. Pette H, Mainzer F. Therapy of apoplexy. Medizinische. 1954;1:23-5.
  8. Mainzer F. Aphagia and adipsia as post-stroke syndrome. Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 1956;81(43):1704-6. German.
  9. Mainzer F. Subclinical vitamin B hypovitaminoses. Int Z Vitaminforsch Beih. 1948;20(1-3):187-208. German.
  10. Mainzer F. Insulin-hypersensitivity in pellagrins and its significance. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1949;43(3):329-42.
  11. Mainzer F. Heart contusion in coronary disease. Cardiologia (Basel). 1950;16(5-6):287-99.
  12. Mainzer F. Early aminophylline therapy of cerebral hemorrhage. Med Klin. 1951;46(36):938-41.
  13. Mainzer F. Role of the adrenals in pellagra. Acta Endocrinol (Copenh). 1958; 28(2):236-50.
  14. Mainzer F. Effect of anxiety on the electrocardiogram. Med Klin. 1953;48(45):1651-4.
  15. Mainzer F. Role of the adrenal glands in pellagra. Rev Iber Endocrinol. 1957;4(19):45-59. Spanish.
  16. Mainzer F. Principles of medical consultation. Med Klin. 1959;54:2283-5. German.
  17. Mainzer F. The “placebo” effect of surgical interventions. Munch Med Wochenschr. 1959;101:1572-5. German.
  18. Mainzer F. Atypical angina pectoris; relation between angina pectoris and spinal disease; interlinked angina and pseudo-anginal radicular syndrome. Klin Wochenschr. 1958;36(16):749-60. German.
  19. Mainzer F, Massoud GE. Congenital aortic stenosis in siblings. Am J Cardiol. 1961;7:262-9.
  20. Mainzer F. Placebo effect of surgical operations. J Med Lyon. 1961;42:1083-93. French.
  21. Mainzer F. Diagnostic differentiation of coexisting pseudoanginal root syndrome and angina pectoris. Am Heart J. 1960;59:191-207.
  22. Mainzer F. A contribution on the history of pulmonary bilharziasis; Dr. Belleli’s work from 1885. Z Tropenmed Parasitol. 1951;3(2):234-43.
  23. Mainzer F. Polyglobulism (polycythemia) as a factor of compensation in morbus caeruleus (congenital heart disease with cyanosis). Z Kreislaufforsch. 1955;44(23-24):966-8. German.
  24. Katz F, Mainzer F. Successful Grafting of Adrenal Gland in a Case of Addison’s Disease. Br Med J. 1941;1(4190):617-8.



AVI OHRY, MD, is married with two daughters. He is Emeritus Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Tel Aviv University, the former director of Rehabilitation Medicine at Reuth Medical and Rehabilitation Center in Tel Aviv, and a member of The Lancet‘s Commission on Medicine & the Holocaust. He conducts award-winning research in neurological rehabilitation, bioethics, medical humanities and history, and on long-term effects of disability and captivity. He plays the drums with three jazz bands.


Winter 2023  |  Sections  |  Physicians of Note

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