Koreff, David Ferdinand

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KOREFF, DAVID FERDINAND (1783–1851), German author and physician. Koreff was the son of a physician in Breslau and became known for his use of unorthodox medical techniques (mesmerism) and the treatment of mental cases. He cured scores of patients after other physicians had abandoned hope of their recovery.

He was a member of the Nordsternbund, a circle of young romantic poets (Varnhagen v. Ense, A. v. Chamisso, W. Neumann, L. Robert) in Berlin and displayed considerable literary ability, translating Hippocrates, Plautus, and Tibullus, and composing several original romantic poems. In Prussia his friends were Rahel Levin (*Varnhagen), L.Tieck, J.E. Hitzig, E.T.A. Hoffmann, F. de la Motte Fouqué, and H. v. Pueckler-Muskau. From 1807 to 1811 he lived in Paris and combined the practice of medicine with a literary career. His patients included the family of Emperor Napoleon and a number of diplomats. In 1814 he served as a physician in the Prussian army and participated in the last battle against Napoleon for which he received the decoration "Eisernes Kreuz." After being appointed after 1815 as physician in ordinary of the Prussian king, Frederick William iii, and the Prussian chancellor, Prince von Hardenberg, he received a full professorship at Berlin, but as a Jew he had no right to occupy such a post and the chancellor immediately ensured that he underwent baptism in the Lutheran Church (Aug. 13, 1816, in Meissen). His main literary work was Lyrische Gedichte (1815). He also wrote the text for Aucassin und Nicolette, an opera performed in Berlin in 1822, and was instrumental in founding the University of Bonn in 1818. In 1822, after the death of Hardenberg, he moved to Paris again, where he resumed his practice of medicine. Koreff 's circle in the French capital included the painter Delacroix, the philosopher Victor Cousin, and such writers as Stendhal, Mérimée, Musset, Hugo, and Dumas; he also befriended Heine (whom he treated) and Meyerbeer. As an intermediary between the leading French and German literary groups, Koreff was a personality of considerable significance.


M. Martin, Le docteur Koreff (1920); F. von Oppeln-Bronikowski, David Ferdinand Koreff (Ger., 1928). add. bibliography: Aus dem Nachlaß v. Varnhagen's v. Ense (1871), 1–58; G. Jaeckel, Die Charité (1986), 186–95; Lexikon deutsch-juedischer Autoren, vol. 14 (2006).

[Sol Liptzin /

Archiv Bibliographia Judaica (2nd ed.)]

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