Hospitalizing a Healthy Man to Save Him from the Holocaust

Stand for Israel  |  September 26, 2023

Ustasa camp guards and Jewish prisoners during Holocaust
(Photo: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

A Croatian physician who saved the life of a Jewish man by inventing false maladies to keep him hospitalized, Dr. Jozo Jagodic hid other Jewish patients to save them from deportation to death camps.

While the Nazis and their evil allies were murdering millions of Jews and others across Europe, there were those who stood for good and stood for the Jewish people, saving many with their selfless actions. One of these was a Croatian doctor named Jozo Jagodic.

A Croatian Jew named Gustav Erenfrajnd took steps to save himself when the Nazis invaded his country in 1941—converting to Christianity and changing his name. These measures, however, didn’t help Gustav, who was set to be sent to his death in the Ustasa death camp.

On the day that Croatian Jews were to be deported to Ustasa, a friend of Gustav’s told him to pretend to be ill. Under Nazi guard, the Jewish man was taken handcuffed to the hospital. There, Dr. Jozo Jagodic diagnosed Gustav with appendicitis, ordering him to undergo immediate surgery. The surgeon informed Dr. Jagodic that the patient was fine, so the kindly doctor began to invent further illnesses.

By creating fake complications, Dr. Jagodic was able to keep Gustav admitted from August 1942 until January 1943—nearly half a year hidden in a hospital! During that time, Gustav—who was hidden in the hospital basement and even in doctors’ homes—noticed a group of Jewish women also being sheltered from the Nazis, Jewish lives also saved by the doctor’s brave actions.

After more than five months, Gustav was able to join a partisan group that fought the Nazis. But it would not have been possible without the heroic actions of Dr. Jozo Jagodic, who was posthumously named Righteous Among the Nations in 2002.