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        Facts About Rudolf Weigl 

Rudolf Weigl

Rudolf Weigl was a geneticist and microbiologist who is perhaps best known as the scientist who save the lives of many Polish Jews during World War II. By developing and producing a vaccine against typhus, which at that time threatened to detonate like an epidemic. The importance of his work cannot be exaggerat: if he hadn’t develop the vaccine, countless more lives would have been lost.

Rudolf Weigl Biography

He was born on March 24, 1900, in Kraków, Poland. Weigl developed the typhus vaccine with the help of his wife, Irena. He died in Germany on September 6, 1967

During the Holocaust, Weigl’s vaccine was utilize to prevent typhus epidemics in Nazi death camps. He was also accuse of providing medicine to Jews. Weigl himself was not Jewish and had a strong anti-Semitic attitude, but he provided medicine to those suffering from typhus, regardless of race or religion.

In 1964 Weigl received the Polish “Cross of Merit” medal. The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany was establish on August 29, 1951, by decree. It is grant in three classes: Grand Commander, Commander, and Officer. The insignia of the immediately lower classes, Knight and Officer, was approve on September 4, 1951, by Adolf Grimme.

Weigl’s life-saving work has been forgotten over time and only goes back to the late 20th century when a museum was establish in Kraków to honor him for his contribution during World War II.

Weigl loved to travel. His hobbies included swimming and skiing.

Weigl developed it with the help of his wife, Irena. He died in Germany in 1967.

 Rudolf Weigl Was a Professor During the Soviet & German Occupations:

In the years 1925-1926, Weigl became a lecturer in epidemiology at the School of Medicine in Lvov . After this, he was name Professor of Hygiene and Bacteriology at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. In 1939, Weigl was also named head of Research Department I for Typhus and Virology for the Polish Ministry of Health. Later that year, he became a professor at Jagiellonian University once again.

Rudolf Weigl was an opponent of eugenics, which at the time was practice in Poland on a large scale by the Nazis. After Weigl learned about the plans for mass sterilization of Polish women, he quickly spoke out against it.

In his testimony before the Extraordinary State Commission, manage by Polish doctors from America and Britain, he stated that he had repeatedly ask to be removed from the program as it contradict his religious beliefs. Polish leaders disregard his request and he was forced to go on with the entire program.

As a result, Weigl resigned himself from his position at the Jagiellonian University in protest and started his own clinic where he treated typhus patients.

Despite Weigl’s opposition to eugenics, in 1942, he was appoint by the authorities of German-occupied Krakow as Director of Hygiene and Public Health for the Greater Krakow district.

Weigl Helped Rescue Many Members of the Jewish Community From the Gestapo: 

In 1943, when the Nazis began fraying at the seams from the Soviet Red Army’s summer offensive, Weigl was placed in charge of a typhus research station in Krakow. Within weeks, Weigl and his team had vaccinated over 10,000 people (mostly Jews) against typhus. Of particular concern was that this area had been considered “cut off” during the war as it was too far from German lines.

Weigl’s main concern was saving as many Jews as possible. He secretly provided the vaccine to Jews without charging excessive prices for it. “I had to work hard to keep the lives of these people,” said Weigl. “My wife and I risked our own lives, but we felt that it was our duty to do so.”

Weigl’s vaccine has been credited with saving thousands of lives and helping prevent typhus from spreading in Nazi work camps. However, Weigl himself was not Jewish or anti-Nazi, though he did provide medication to anyone who needed it.

Weigl Was Born in the Modern-Day Czech Republic:

Weigl was born in Krakow, Poland on March 24, 1900. He was born a member of the German-Polish ethnic group, but after the outbreak of World War II he became a Polish citizen and changed his first name to Rudolf.

Rudolf Weigl Studied Body Lice to Come Up With the Vaccine:

Rudolf was born on March 24, 1900, in Kraków, Poland. As a child, Weigl’s father died. His mother was then left to raise three children by herself. Weigl always wanted to help people and while still very young he volunteered at a hospital in Krakow. There he discovered that typhoid fever was rampant among the patients. He began to study body lice and quickly learned how they moved from one individual to another.

Weigl began to study lice because he believe they could be used to help fight typhus. He was interest in finding new ways of understanding the bodies’ immune systems and the way that typhus worked. He studied lice, which share the same basic body structure as humans, and collected samples from infected humans. These specimens were sent to his lab at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, where he began a series of experiments to learn more about their behavior.

The main interest of Rudolf Weigl

The main interest of Weigl’s research was to discover how typhus spread. He was beginning met in the course of studying lice, he discover that the louse has a curved mouth that helps the organism burrow into human lymph nodes. The typhus germ is then able to travel through the blood stream and enter the different cells of the body.

Weigl was a member of the Polish resistance against the Germans and their occupation. After the war, Weigl moved to Germany and worked as a researcher at the University of Wurzburg in 1947. He became Professor Emeritus of Hygiene at the Institute for Bacteriology and Virology at the University of Wurzburg in 1955. He remained there until he died on August 30, 1967.

 : Weigl’s first wife, Irena Weigl (née Ginalska), died in 1931. Subsequently, he married his laboratory assistant Krystyna Weigl (née Zaniewska), who survived him after his death.

Rudolf and Krystyna Weigl had two sons and a daughter


The Polish Post Office issued a stamp to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Rudolf Weigl’s birth In 2005.

The Polish town of Otwock, a plaque was erect to commemorate him, as well as a school in Zakopane.

a street in Lviv was dub after him: “The Rudolf Weigl Str In 2014,.”

Gutman, Yisrael. ““Polish Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust: Institutional, Social and Personal Characteristics.”” Yad Vashem Studies 39 (2011)

The Rudolf Weigl Prize in Lab Medicine awards scientists working on infectious diseases, particularly lice-borne diseases like typhus. The prize is award by the Paul Ehrlich Institute and the City of Frankfurt am Main. The prize is endow with €50,000. It was first award in 1995 and has been award every two years since 1998.


Rudolf Weigl was a Polish scientist who discovered an effective vaccine for typhus. He used body lice to develop the vaccine, which helped reduce the spread of typhus during World War II. Weigl did this work despite opposition from the Nazis. During World War II, he also helped prevent the further spread of typhus by providing his vaccine to Jews at a reduced cost.

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