Friday, December 11, 2015

D R.  M A Y N A R D  C O H E N

Dr. Maynard Cohen presented and published hundreds of articles during more than half a century of neurological research. He authored textbooks and led international symposia, playing a leadership role in the World Federation of Neurology.

He also helped form the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and served as its president from 1981-1983. In 1989, the AAN recognized his contributions with its first Distinguished Service Award.

In addition, Cohen was the founding president of the Association of University Professors of Neurology, established in 1967, his leadership at Rush included terms as an assistant vice president for the Medical Center and an associate dean at Rush Medical College. 

Dr. Cohen was honored at home and abroad for his contributions. He was elected to the Norwegian Academy of Sciences in Letters in 1982 and was a Fulbright Professor on the faculty of medicine of the University of Oslo, Norway, in 1977. 

Based on his interviews and friendships with his Norwegian colleagues, he wrote a book describing the role of physicians in the resistance to Nazi occupation of Norway during World War II. A Stand Against Tyranny: Norway's Physicians and the Nazis was published in 1997 by Wayne University Press.

Dr. Cohen grew up in Detroit and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1941. He received his Medical Degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit in 1944, graduating with distinction.

In later years, he also received the Wayne State University Alumni Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the Wayne State University School of Medicine. He served as Captain in the Army of the United States during WWII, stationed at the 34th General Hospital near in Seoul. He completed his internship and residency training at Detroit and Minneapolis hospitals and following a year of research at the University of Oslo, earned his PhD in Neurochemistry from the University of Minnesota (UMN) in Minneapolis-St. Paul in 1953. 

Cohen then rose to professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at the UMN Medical School, where he also was director of the Center for Cerebrovascular Research. Cohen came to Chicago in 1963 to head the neurology department at Rush. 

He also held positions as head of the Department of Neurological Sciences and a professor of pharmacology at the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine. 

An enthusiastic athlete, Dr. Cohen was a skilled competitive tennis player. He read widely and, a lover of classical music, also played the viola. With his wife, Doris Vidaver, he organized the humanities program at Rush University that drew on international literature and ethical writing. 

He traveled extensively and was fluent in Italian and Norwegian, and read Spanish, German, French, Danish and Swedish. 

A  S T A N D  A G A I N S T  

T Y R A N N Y: N O R W A Y' S  
P H Y S I C I A N S  A N D  
T H E  N A Z I S 

by Dr. Maynard Cohen

Wayne University Press

The bitterness of five oppressive years of Nazi occupation still hung heavily over Oslo when I first arrived in Norway in September of 1951. Rationing of sugar coffee meat and butter along with the paucity of fresh fruit and vegetables were daily reminder of the suffering the nation had experience. Foreign exchange was at a premium causing imports to be severely limited. 

Oranges appeared on fruit stands only at Christmas time and children had grown into their teens without seeing a banana or a pineapple. Traffic was leisurely for most private vehicles of the 1930 s were war time casualties. 

The occasional new automobile was the property of a foreign diplomat or of the fortunate Norwegian who qualified for an import license on the basis of professional need. Local Nazis, collaborating opportunists, and any other individual who had consorted with the enemy, remained excluded from normal society. For them employment was difficult and acceptance by coworker impossible.

I had been well prepared for Oslo. Georg Monrad Krohn, professor and head of the Department of Neurological Sciences and wartime dean of the faculty of medicine of the University of Oslo, had been a recent guest at the University of Minnesota. He offered me the opportunity to teach neuropathology to his residents and to lecture to Norwegian medical students. 

Sigvald Refsum, professor and head of the department of neurology in the newly formed medical school at the University of Bergen, then a visiting professor in our department, encouraged the move and provided encyclopedic information.

Dr. Sigvald Refsum. Source: SNL

Perhaps most convincing was my dear friend Robert Andersen. He was among the host of Norwegians who had involuntarily joined the Grini Society when imprisoned by the Nazi occupiers for “subversive” activities.

Since 1948 he had been in Minneapolis, first in the music department of the University of Minnesota, and then as a violinist in the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. He passed his enthusiasms on to me and provided introductions to friends in Oslo’s musical community who would enormously enrich my stay.

But a few days were needed to organize my routine at Rikshospital, Norway’s state Hospital and University Clinic. The neuropathology lecture series would begin some weeks off. 

Until then the first two hours of every morning were given over to rounds on the neurological service with Monrad-Krohn and his staff. I then made my away across the Rikshospital grounds to the University Institute of Pathology where I sat reading microscopic slides of nervous tissue with Prosektor Aagot Christie Løken.

Prof. Georg Monrad-Krohn. Source: Wikipedia

It was from Aagot Løken that I had my first intimation of the underground activities of Norway’s physicians. Reviewing slides, as we sat side by side at microscopes gave us considerable conversation time. Aside from diagnostic problems, we spoke of many things, including the Occupation. 

Our inevitable dialogue was initiated by Aagot’s offhanded remark that the attic above the very room in which we worked had housed an illegal radio receiver. Her own role, she told me, was inconsequential – offering her room for clandestine meetings - the participants masked to disguise identities, even from comrades because anonymity was essential for survival. Even then, six years after the war had ended, little had emerged from participants in underground actions other than memoirs of dare devil agents such as Max Manus. 

During my second week in Oslo, Georg Henriksen, chief of the epilepsy service extended the first of a string of dinner invitations. Once the meal had ended, Kristian Kristiansen, chief of neurosurgery at the Oslo City Hospital (Ullevaal Sykehus) and I spoke extensively together. He lamented the state of neuropathology in Norway.

Kristian Kristensen Ullevaal Hospital

The country’s only fully trained specialist had department for more inviting opportunities in the United States. Aagot Løken, although an excellent pathologist, had only a year of training to prepare for a specialized role in neuropathology. 

Ullevaal Hospital, the capital’s city’s principal medical institution with its three thousand beds, lacked a neuropathology laboratory completely. Kristiansen solicited my interest in establishing such a laboratory. A lifelong friendship and years of scientific cooperation began with that dinner conversation.

In the laboratory, and in Kristiansen’s, I heard fleeting mention of medical personnel involvement in clandestine wartime activity, but very little was specific and certainly nothing was personal. 

During the years of my continuing exchange with Norwegian colleagues, fragmented references to the Resistance recurred frequently, but the reticence and modesty of my friends always abbreviated the conversation. It seemed, indeed, that the contribution of Norway’s doctors to the struggle against the occupying Nazis was significant and unique. Years passed before I could put those initial intonations to any test.

In 1977 my teaching duties were sparse during the course of a five month tenure as Fulbright Professor at the University of Oslo - full quarter century after my curiosity had been piqued – allowing sufficient time for an earnest attempt to investigate the role of Norway’s physician in the Resistance. 

Interviews of medical colleagues and review of old newspapers made it apparent that physicians indeed had participated fearlessly and contributed substantially. I continued to gather material over the next decade, added magnificently by friends and colleagues. They would speak freely and with sincere admiration of the contributions of others - but only reluctantly of themselves.

The work that has finally emerged is a story based on personal interviews more than three decades after the actual events – gathered at a time when a number of the participants were no longer alive. What is remarkable is the clarity of recall and consistency of the various interviews. In but a single instance was there a minor divergence.

As the interview progressed, it became obvious that, like other loyal Norwegians many physicians carried out underground activities that could as well have been performed by others outside the profession. In other very important circumstances however medical qualifications were essential. These events and some that were facilitated by the physicians’ position in Norwegian society are described in my book.

The interview took place in Oslo and in Bergen the home cites of protagonist who remained alive and were available. For the others both memories and biographers (particularly by colleagues and close friend of the biographers) were employed. All interviews were conducted in English. 

As interview progressed it became obvious that these acts of Resistance were, in many circumstances, intimately intertwined with the humanistic attitudes of Norwegian society. 

For that reason, along with the saga of her physicians, Norway’s movement is traced from an inward-looking, often bigoted position to the respect one the nation now occupies in relation to humanitarian behavior. The influence of Fridtjof Nansen as the most admired individual in the world of this time was the single most important factor in this transition to enlightenment.

Considerable attention, therefore, is devoted to the aspect of his life that not only placed his stamp on Norwegian character, but foreshadowed the catastrophic events that accompanied the Second World War.

Published with kind permission from daughters

Elena N. Cohen
Deborah Vidaver-Cohen

Published by Scandinavian Jewish Forum