Eitinger, Leo S.

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EITINGER, LEO S. (1912–1996), psychiatrist and pioneer researcher in psychotraumatology. Born in Lomnice, Czechoslovakia, and graduating from medical school in 1937, Eitinger fled from the Nazis in 1939 and came to Norway as a refugee with a Nansen passport. He was given permission to work as a resident in psychiatry in Norway until the Nazi occupation of Norway in 1940. In 1942 he was deported to Auschwitz together with the Norwegian Jews and was one of the very few to survive. After the war he returned to Norway, where he specialized in psychiatry. Eitinger wrote his doctoral thesis on "Psykiatriske undersøkelser blant flyktninger i Norge" ("Psychiatric Examination among Refugees in Norway," 1958). In 1954 Eitinger was awarded the King's Gold Medal for his study of the influence of military life on young Norwegian men's mental health. He is regarded as one of the founders of victimology, the study of the effects of aggression upon the victim. After spending a year in Israel (1961–62) examining survivors of concentration camps, he published Concentration Camp Survivors in Norway and Israel (1964). This work, together with "Mortality and Morbidity after Excessive Stress" (1973), were his greatest achievements. He described a "concentration camp syndrome" comprising anxiety and depression in the survivors. He ascribed this to physical trauma. Eitinger, professor of psychiatry at Oslo University, was president of the Norwegian Psychiatric Association from 1963 to 1967. In 1966 he became head of the University Psychiatric Clinic. As professor emeritus, Leo Eitinger continued his research and writing uninterruptedly. He was awarded the World Veterans Federation's Prize in 1995 for his unrelenting work for war veterans. He was also appointed Commander of the Royal Norwegian St. Olav Order, an award given to him by the king of Norway for his great contribution to medical science. He and his wife, Lisl Eitinger, devoted their lives to the promotion of human rights and the fight against injustice and racism. In this spirit they established the University of Oslo's Human Rights Award, the Lisl and Leo Eitinger Prize.


L. Weisaeth, Echoes of the Holocaust, 5 (July 1997).

[Inger-Lise Grusd /

Lynn Claire Feinberg (2nd ed.)]