Memorial Service for Kurt Paucker: transcripts of speeches

Scope and Content

This collection contains transcripts of speeches held at the memorial service for Kurt Paucker on 26 April 1980. It includes speeches by his brother Arnold Paucker; Werner Henle, Ph.D mentor at the University of Pennsylvania, colleague and friend; and Jan Vilcek and Clifton A Ogburn, colleagues and friends. The speech by his brother tells the story of their bourgeois upbringing in the Weimarer Republic in Berlin before their education was interrupted in Nazi Germany and the family was torn apart by the Jewish persecutions.

Administrative / Biographical History

Kurt Paucker grew up in Berlin in the Weimarer Republic with his older brother Arnold and their parents. Shortly after the Nazis came to power, the Jewish brothers were no longer allowed to attend school. In 1936 Arnold was sent to school in Palestine. He later joined the British Army. In 1938 Kurt moved to France to go to a Jewish school near Paris. Kurt was one of the few survivors of the pupils. The school was evacuated to the Massif Central but most children were transported to the Eastern saltmines where they were worked to death or gassed at Auschwitz concentration camp. Eluding pursuit by the Gastapo, Kurt headed for the Maquis. The French resistance groups deemed him too young for a partisan and sent him to lead a party of refugee women and children across the Swiss frontier to safety. Interned at first in Switzerland, he joined relatives in Zurich. There he eventually completed his education and became a student at Zurich University.

Both brothers met each other again after the Second World War in Italy. Their parents had managed to escape to Shanghai, China but many of their close relatives perished in the war. Kurt moved with his parents to Philadelphia where he started his career as a scientist. His brother pursued a career as a historian in England. Their grandfather Ignatz Paucker died in 1950. Kurt Paucker did his Ph.D in virology at the University of Pennsylvania. He became chairman of the Department of Microbiology at the Pennsylvania College of Medicine in 1970.

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Acquisition Information

Donated by Sandra Thei (no family relations).