David Klebanov

David Klebanov

Born: November 1, 1907

Volkovysk, Poland

Born in the town of Volkovysk when it was part of Russia, David was the son of middle-class Jewish parents. When the family's life was disrupted by World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917, they moved to Borisov and Kiev before finally settling in the Polish city of Bialystok. After completing secondary school in 1925, David studied medicine at Stefan Bathory University in Vilna.

1933-39: After medical school I served one year in the Polish army. Then I practiced obstetrics at a beautiful hospital in a small Polish town. When war broke out on September 1, 1939, I was called up for service and was captured by the Germans on September 3. The Germans had me treat wounded Polish prisoners. After a month, I was allowed to return as a civilian to Bialystok, which by then was occupied by the Soviets.

1940-44: I joined my fiancee in Kovno. On June 22, 1941, the day after our wedding, the Germans invaded. Deported to Riga, I treated the ghetto's few survivors as best I could with no medicine. Secretly, I tried to contain a typhoid epidemic--the Germans would have sooner killed typhoid patients. My SS commandant valued me because I knew how to perform abortions--on women he had slept with. Meanwhile, I tried to save other women by terminating their pregnancies; the Nazis killed pregnant women and newborn children.

After the war, David worked in a hospital treating concentration camp survivors and later specialized in the effects of hunger and severe emotional stress on women.