Obituaries

Imre Joseph Pál Loefler

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39220.562662.BE (Published 24 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1118
  1. York John Craven,
  2. Lusaka John Jellis,
  3. Kampala Francis Omaswa

    Surgeon, controversial writer, and polymath

    The death of Imre Loefler, at the age of 77 will be mourned in many quarters. He was a polymath, well versed in philosophy, history, ecology, and wildlife conservation, as well as medical education and surgery. His memory was prodigious. In his heavily accented speeches and in over 1000 precisely argued articles and scientific papers, he challenged the status quo in many differing fields. His audiences and his influence extended far from his home in suburban Nairobi.

    Imre Joseph Pál Loefler was born in Budapest in 1929. His father was a civil servant. One grandfather was a classics teacher, the other a publisher and book collector whose library became an important factor in Imre's development. His grandmothers were Austrian and Bavarian so the home was bilingual. Within the ranks of the extended family were Uncle Joseph, an archbishop (later the Primate of the Catholic Church in Hungary), Uncle Victor, a general, and Aunt Paula, an Ursuline nun, who was the first woman to hold a PhD from a Hungarian university and tutor to the children of the Duke of Eszerhazy. The general, but even more so, the nun, had great influence on the boy.

    His early schooldays were unremarkable; his only enthusiasm, scouting, he attributed to his desire to escape from home and his mother's religious moralising. In 1944 he was enrolled in an army cadet school. Unfortunately, with the Russians no more than a few kilometres from Budapest, all the cadets were soon taken by the German army, put into German uniforms, and sent to the Polish war front. After six months he escaped and made his way to Germany, where the Americans captured him in May 1945. In the prisoner of war camp he helped in a modest “clinic” and there performed his …

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