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Mon Jun 28, 2021, 04:23 PM

The gay, Jewish scientist the Nazis left alone [View all]

The scientist Otto Warburg played a pivotal role in unlocking a central mystery of cancer. But how he was allowed to advance our understanding of the disease is a mystery unto itself. At the time of Hitler’s ascent, when his colleagues fled en masse or were stripped of their positions, Warburg, a gay man from one of Germany’s most prominent Jewish families, operated his own institute with the Nazis’ knowing consent.

His survival could be chalked up in part to self-conceit.

“Whether Warburg was the greatest biochemist of the era is debatable, but he was almost certainly the most self-important biochemist who ever lived,” Sam Apple writes in his new book, “Ravenous: Otto Warburg, the Nazis, and the Search for the Cancer-Diet Connection.”

Warburg was a brilliant researcher, a Nobel laureate who discovered that cancer cells gorge on blood sugar and ferment their food in a way healthy cells with plenty of oxygen don’t. Warburg was also the sort of man who, when asked to provide a certificate of Aryan descent, refused both to comply and to return a Nazi salute. He likewise refused to hang Nazi banners in his lab.


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Behind the Aegis Jun 2021 OP
LifeLongDemocratic Jun 2021 #1
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