The Shmooze

Doctor Refuses To Operate on Man With Nazi Tattoo

By Michael Kaminer

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A 36-year-old German man is probably experiencing an acute case of tattoo regret today.

After seeing Nazi imagery emblazoned on the man’s arm, a Jewish doctor who was preparing to operate on him left the operating theater and had another doctor complete the procedure, English-language German news site TheLocal.de reports. News reports didn’t specify what kind of surgery the 36-year-old man required.

The patient, in the city of Paderborn in North Rhine-Westphalia, “had a graphic on his arm of a swastika and the Bundesadler (Imperial Eagle), the German national symbol adopted by the Nazi party,” TheLocal said. The eagle was a German national symbol long before the Third Reich, TheLocal said.

The 46-year-old doctor said “he could not reconcile proceeding with the surgery with his conscience,” The Jewish Chronicle paper reported. The doctor reportedly told the man’s wife, “I will not operate on your husband. I’m Jewish.”

Since the end of the Holocaust, public display of Nazi party symbols, such as the swastika, have been forbidden in Germany, and carries punishment of up to three years in prison, TheLocal reported. The Jewish Chronicle said that in a 2009 study, researchers found that 5% of 15-year-old German boys belonged to right-wing extremist groups.

According to the Encyclopedia Judaica and The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, Jews have inhabited Paderborn since 1285; by 1900, the population swelled to 400. A circa-1881 synagogue was destroyed on Kristallnacht; only five Paderborn Jews, it’s estimated, survived the Holocaust.


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