Gumpert, Martin

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GUMPERT, MARTIN (1897–1955), German author and physician. The son of a medical practitioner, Gumpert was born in Berlin and, after serving in the German Army Medical Corps during World War i, he began his medical studies at the university of Berlin, specializing in venereal and skin diseases. In 1927, he became the head of a Berlin clinic for the treatment of these complaints and the director of a center for the study of deformities, on which he published a manual, Die gesamte Kosmetik (1931). Between 1933 and 1936, when the Nazis forced him out of medical practice, Gumpert began to write the first of a series of works that were to make him famous: a biography of Samuel Hahnemann, the originator of homeopathy (1934); and Das Leben fuer die Idee (1935; Trail-Blazers of Science, 1936), portraits of outstanding scientists. Gumpert emigrated to New York in 1936, resumed his career as a dermatologist and became an American citizen in 1942. He soon moved to a new specialization, geriatrics, strongly maintaining that society was frittering away millions of useful lives through compulsory retirement at the age of 65. Gumpert rapidly achieved medical distinction, heading the geriatric clinic in New York's Jewish Memorial Hospital from 1951 and gaining many professional honors. Two medical works in English advocating a new approach to the treatment of the aged were You Are Younger Than You Think (1944) and The Anatomy of Happiness (1951).

In his youth, Gumpert had written two collections of lyrics, Verkettung (1916) and Heimkehr des Herzens (1921). Other literary works in German written after his move to the U.S. include Berichte aus der Fremde (1937), poems; Dunant: Der Roman des Roten Kreuzes (1938; Dunant: The Story of the Red Cross, 1938); Hoelle im Paradies (1939), an autobiography; and a novel, Der Geburtstag (1948). He also contributed a short article on his friend and fellow exile, Thomas *Mann, The Stature of Thomas Mann (1946). From 1952 until his death, Gumpert edited a New York medical journal, Lifetime Living.


Science Illustrated (June 1946), 637–40; New Yorker (June 10 and 17, 1950); Current Biography (1951), 250–1; New York Times (April 19, 1955). add. bibliography: J. Ittner, "'Merkwürdig unjüdisch' – Identitaet und Antisemitismus in Martin Gumberts Autobiographien," in: Exil, 19:1 (1999), 5–22; D. Rosenberg, Martin GumpertArzt und Schriftsteller (2000).

[Rudolf Kayser]