Marek Edelman – Memories of the doctors in the clinic (121/179)

There was someone, I don’t remember who, Villard, he was his teacher, too, medicine was different then. When Rutkowski met with Jakubowski on their ward rounds, they would recite poetry in French, Russian, Polish etc, but the best one of them was Loluś Zylberblat who spoke in every language and knew Pushkin by heart, Apollinaire by heart, everything, so we had good company. Company is a very important thing. Jakubowski was a communist. The junior doctor would come to him and say, ‘Excuse me but what are the four points of…?’ I forget what, in the WKP(b), there are some sort of four points in that booklet. He said, ‘I don’t know, but Stalin had a patch on his back and I used to treat him then’, he had a patch on his greatcoat, so it was this class of person. Then, when they were making arrests, there was this boy with us who came from the Vilnius branch of the AK, he’d jumped from a train and so after one year… he’d worked previously with his father’s pupil because his father was a professor. But the secret police came along and gave the order that he should be fired. Jakubowski met him in the street and said, ‘Zbyszek, what are you doing?’ So he said, ‘They’ve kicked me out.’ ‘So come and join me.’ He came, after two or three days the secret police took him away and locked him up in the slammer because, of course, they were dealing with a mighty reactionary, so Jakubowski probably went to see Moczar and they let him out, he came back and everything was quiet but he wasn’t the nicest of boys. Later on, he became a professor and so on, so his head obviously wasn’t that bad. These were highbrow communists who cared about science in Poland. Rutkowski wrote all his handbooks in a coffee shop on the corner of Tragutt Street and Piotrkowska Street. He’d go there at nine to write his handbooks on surgery, and a band would come and play the drums for him. Meanwhile, his patient would be anaesthetised. His junior surgeon would drive over: ‘The patient is asleep, that’s enough now, professor’, and he’d go. That’s what it was like then. That’s it. The clinic was like that.

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