Categories: Israeli-German science cooperation​

Prof. Raphael Falk Raphael Falk, born in Frankfurt a. M., Germany, in 1929, is professor emeritus of genetics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Interview with Raphael Falk.pdf 

  • Interview Excerpt

  • UD: Israeli scientists differed and differ strongly in their attitudes regarding collaboration with German scientists. Did Israeli scientists who were refugees from Nazi Germany have more problems to collaborate with German colleagues?

    RF: Elisabeth Goldschmidt, the senior geneticist in Israel in the 1950s-1970s, born in Frankfurt a. M., abandoned her medicine studies and left for England and then for Palestine, led the campaign (together with her colleague Jacob Wahrman, also born in Frankfurt), against the decision of the International Genetics Congress 1958 in Montreal for Germany as venue of the next Congress in 1960. She did not collaborate with German scientists. But she collaborated with an Austrian geneticist, Elisabeth Stumm-Zollinger, on the population cytogenetics of Drosophila subobscura. Israel is at the border of the distribution of this species, and the two researchers could show that the variability of this fly in Israel was lower than that in Austria. In 1959 they published a joint paper: Elisabeth Stumm-Zollinger & Elisabeth Goldschmidt, Geographical differentiation of inversion systems in Drosophila subobscura, Evolution and Development 13 (1), 89-98. I do not know whether Goldschmidt was in Germany or Austria. But she was in Switzerland, where she spent a couple of months in Ernst Hadorn's lab in order to learn paper chromatography for studying variability in Drosophila, a method which she introduced to genetic studies in Israel.

    In 1961 there was a conference on Jewish population genetics in Israel, which was organized by Goldschmidt and Chaim Sheba, who was not a geneticist but a physician and organizer. Goldschmidt invited people from different countries, e.g. Haldane attended the conference, as well as Turkish, Greek and Algerian scientists and others. See this information in Goldschmidt's book: Genetics of Migrant and Isolated Populations. She also invited the German Hans Nachtsheim who was considered a non-Nazi. Goldschmidt trusted Gert Bonnier, my former instructor from Sweden, who, after consultations with colleagues invited Nachtsheim to The International Genetic Congress in Stockholm in 1958, about Nachtsheim's past during the Nazi era. I remember Nachtsheim during his visit; he kept a low profile.