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How A Holocaust Survivor’s Difficult Birth Led To His Career In High-Risk Pregnancies

Dr. Raul Artal Mittelmark stands in his St. Louis University office before retiring in 2014.
St. Louis University

On April 22, 1943, Dr. Raul Artal-Mittelmark was born in a Nazi concentration camp in Transnistria, a region in Eastern Europe. 

“It was a very difficult breech delivery; I came into the world with my feet first,” Artal-Mittelmark said Wednesday on St. Louis on the Air. “Luckily, there was a physician in the camp … who knew what to do. He saved my mother’s and my life.”

After the camp was liberated, his parents returned to their hometown: Czernowitz in Bukovina, which was under Communist rule. After several attempts to flee Communist Russia, the family was able to move to Romania, then the U.S. and, eventually, Israel. 

It was in Israel where Artal-Mittelmark met his wife, and they eventually moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where Artal ended up serving 17 years as chairman of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health at St. Louis University.

“My mother’s difficult labor and delivery experience inspired me to become an obstetrician specialising in high-risk obstetrics, high-risk pregnancies,” he said.

Hear host Sarah Fenske talk with Artal-Mittelmark about his career in medicine as well as the medical ethics lessons to be taken from the Holocaust:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
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