Ludwik Rajchman (1881-1965)
Ludwik Rajchman, born in Warsaw 1st November 1881 grew up in what was then a non existent Poland divided up among the Austro-Hungarian, Prussian and Russian empires. His father, Aleksander, founded the Warsaw Philharmonic. His mother, Melania, a prominent member of the international women's movement was the daughter of Ludwik Hirszfeld, a banker and patron of the arts. His sister, Helena Radlinska, became a leading figure in social pedagogy. His brother, Aleksander, was a well known mathematician of the Lwow school.
1900-1907 Studies medicine in Cracow, where he follows O Bujwid's courses in bacteriology. Founds with six fellow students the Polish Social Museum, a ressource centre on labourers' conditions. Takes part in clandestine pedagogical activities, especially within the Association of Urban and Rural education, of which he is one of the founders. Participates in the Textbook for Autodidacts edited by S. Michalski. Around 1902, joins the Ruch an association of socialist students and then in 1905 the PPS (Polish Socialist Party).
1904 Marries Marja Bojanczyk, a medical student who flees her family opposed to the marriage.
1905 Graduates from medical school.
1907-1909 Follows the Cours de microbiologie of the Pasteur Institute (Paris) in A. Borrel 's laboratory and frequents E. Metchnikoff 's laboratory, where he meets C. Levaditi.
1909-1910 Lecturer in microbiology and the Jagellonian University (Cracow).
1910-1913 Moves to London where occupies in succession the positions of lecturer in bacteriology for medical doctors at the Royal Institute of Public Health, researcher at King's College and assistant to W. Bulloch at the Medical School.
1914-1918 With the onset of the war is named head of the Central Laboratory on dysentery (London) while being in charge of epidemiological studies on the "Spanish flu" and poliomyelitis.
1918 Leaves London for Warsaw where he founds the Polish Central Institute of Epidemiology (future State Institute of Hygiene), on the model of the Pasteur Institute. In 1923 establishes the Polish School of Hygiene with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation. Remains director of the Institute of Hygiene until 1931.
1920-1921 In view of the typhus epidemic ravaging Poland, Rajchman contacts the League of Nations (LN) Epidemic Commission. As a member of the Commission organises successful anti-epidemic efforts.
1921 Becomes member of the LN mission directed by F. Nansen in order to organise help for Russia struck by famine and typhus.
1921-1939 Named Director of the the LN Health Organisation. Far from restricting the functions of this organisation to the control of contagious diseases, he extends its scope to include diseases prevention, protection of children and invalids, anti-narcotic efforts. Sets up an Interchange programme which allows scientists (such as H. Sparrow ) to work with equivalents abroad and study their respective health services. Participates in the creation of several commissions, including that of Biological standardisation, directed by Th. Madsen, and the Nutrition Commission. As such, Rajchman is one of the creators mof modern public health.
1924 With A. Ferrière and E. Rotten (Institut Rousseau of Geneva), A. Sweetser, W. Rappard (Geneva University), and A. Salter (The League of Nations), creates the International School in Geneva, the objective of which is to teach students from different countries to work together with a common goal.
1925-1926 On behalf of the Heath Committee, visits Japan and China.
1926 Arranges for J. Monnet (future father of Europe) to advise the Polish government in economic matters. Rajchman and Monnet will continue to collaborate to the end of the former's life.
1929 Chang Kai-shek's government, lacking experience in health administration, requests assistance from an international council. L. Rajchman for the LN, V.G. Heiser for the Rockefeller Foundation and A. Newsholme, British expert in public health, are its three members.
1930-1931 Receives in China the technical delegation of the LN which he has inspired.
1935 On his initiative, a world conference on nutrition is convened that establishes for the first time in history a minimal nutritional level necessary for maintaining health in the individual.
1939 His hostility to Mussolini's Italy and Nazi Germany as well as his sympathies for the Spanish Republic and fact that he is a Jew condemn him in the eyes of those LN appeasers. He is forced to leave the League along with several of his friends.
1939-1940 Eager to unite the efforts of various democratic countries in their opposition to totalitarian regimes, seeks to organize - with J. Nehru's support - an international conference under the auspices of the International Peace Campaign in order to establish cooperation between China and India. Unoffficially mandated by G. Mandel, French Minister of the Colonies, to negociate with Chang Kai-shek's government a secret Franco-Chinese plan for military cooperation. His attempts prove unsuccessful and Rajchman leaves China for France and then the United States.
10-12/1939-1941 Named by General Sikorski delegate to humanitarian affairs of the Polish government in exile and seeks to convince the French, British and Amercian authorities to contribute food aid to Polish civilian populations. His efforts are only partly successful. However, some 50 000 Polish children received food stuffs until 1941. He abandons his position in view of disagreement with both the Polish and Amercian authorities.
1941-1943 Named advisor to the Bank of China. Becomes intimate with several members of Roosevelt's "Brain Trust". In collaboration with TV. Soong, then Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, obtains a loan of 500 million dollars for China. Becomes the unofficial director of the China Defense Supplies from which he resigns when Soong pushed aside.
1942 Envisages the creation of an International Brain Trust including among others Charles de Gaulle, Soong and Sikorski in order to share their talent and experience with the fighting united Nations as well as the establishment of an international Air Force.
1944-1945 Called upon to advise UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, established in 1943 to bring assistance to war ravaged countries) in health matters. Represents in UNRRA the new Polish government as of 1945.
1946-1950 UNRRA is to be liquidated, but several million children remain without aid. With the support of H. Hoover (former President of the United States 1928-1932) Rajchman secures a special fund to help children. Unicef, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund comes into being on December 11 1946. Rajchman is its first Chairman as as such orients the Fund's primary activities : distribution of antibiotics (especially against syphilis), DDT (against typhus), production and distribution of powdered milk ; BCG immunization campaign against tuberculosis.
1950 The Cold War intensifies. In the Eastern bloc, Rajchman is suspected of being a pro-American agent and his Polish diplomatic passport is confiscated: he recuperated his papers only after Stalin's death, in 1956. In the United States, the McCarthyists accuse Rajchman of being a commuist spy: in 1957, he is obliged to leave the country precipitously and never returns, settling permanently in France.
1950-1965 Co-founds in Paris the International Children's Center (ICC) with R. Debré. The Center is to provide training in social pediatrics for future public health workers in war ravaged and developing countries.
1955 As Vice-Chairman of the ICC, organises with the Pasteur Institute (J. Tréfouël ) and the State Institute of Hygiene in Warsaw, a Franco-Polish symposium on bacteriology. The symposium is held at the Pasteur Institute (Paris) and the proceedings are published in a special issue of the Annales de l'Institut Pasteur (Dec 1956). Named Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur.
1965 Dies in Chenu (Sarthe, France). J. Monnet and R. Debré are the speakers at his funeral.
Reference : Balinska (Marta), A Life for Humanity - Ludwik Rajchman 1881-1965, Budapest, New York, CEU Presse, 1998, 398 p.
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