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George Klein: 1925–2016

  1. Klaus Rajewskya,1
  1. aImmune Regulation and Cancer, Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, 13125 Berlin, Germany

George Klein, famous cancer biologist and acclaimed writer on matters of science, human responsibility, and the human condition, decorated by innumerable awards, honorary doctorates and other honors, elected member of this Academy and many other learned societies, including the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and Member of the Nobel Assembly of Karolinska Institute from 1957 to 1993, died on December 10, 2016 at the age of 91. He will be dearly missed by pupils, colleagues, readers, and friends throughout the world, many of whom he stayed connected with until the very end of his life. In a unique way, this included people from not only diverse fields of science, but also philosophers, historians, and artists. Klein leaves behind his wife Eva (nee Fischer), herself a distinguished biologist and scientific partner from the beginning. They had a son and two daughters.

George Klein. Image courtesy of Stefan Imreh (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm).

Klein was born in 1925 into an assimilated Jewish family in the Hungarian-speaking part of present Eastern Slovakia, where he grew up in a well-educated and cultured environment. He moved with his mother and step-father to Budapest at the age of five. The outbreak of World War II and the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944 led to defining experiences in Klein’s life. Working as an assistant secretary at the Jewish Council in Budapest, he learned, in April 1944, of the Vrba–Wetzler Report, which was secretly communicated to the Jewish Council after Rudolf Vrba’s and Alfred Wetzler’s escape from Auschwitz and represented a firsthand account of the fate of deported Jews. Met by disbelief among his relatives and friends, the report made Klein, after having been arrested and pressed into forced labor, ultimately escape from the train station where the deportation wagons were waiting. …

?1Email: klaus.rajewsky{at}mdc-berlin.de.

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