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Biographical entry Beck, Alfred (1912 - 2006)

MRCS 1947; FRCS 1951; MD Prague 1935; DA 1943; LRCP 1947.

28 January 1912
Uhersky Brod, Moravia, Czech Republic
24 October 2006
Orthopaedic surgeon and Trauma surgeon


Alfred Beck was a consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon in Cardiff. He was born in Uhersky Brod, Moravia (now in the Czech Republic), on 28 January 1912. His father, Ignaz, was a wholesale merchant and councillor, from a prominent family in the Jewish community which included rabbis and businessmen. His mother was Rose Fürst. Alfred qualified at King Charles’ University, Prague, in 1935 and, after six months as a house surgeon at Ruzomberok, he completed two and a half years in the Czechoslovakian Army, before becoming a surgical registrar in Benesov, near Prague.

A year later the Germans occupied Czechoslovakia and Alfred secretly crossed the border into Poland, where he joined a volunteer unit. He first went to France and then to England, where he was accepted at St George’s. He then worked as a doctor at Colindale Hospital, and narrowly escaped death in a bombing raid. After the war he found that his parents, two brothers and several other relatives had been killed by the Germans in Aüschwitz.

He specialised in orthopaedic surgery, was for many years a registrar at St Mary Abbott’s Hospital, and then at Cardiff, where for over 20 years he was consultant in charge of the accident unit at St David’s Hospital. After retirement from the NHS he joined an independent medical group in the City of London, where he continued to work until he was 80. He published on stress fractures, devised an instrument for extracting the femoral neck, and a way of measuring disuse atrophy.

A man of exceptional patience and modesty, he was a keen gardener, specialising in cacti. He died on 24 October 2006, and is survived by his wife Martha, whom he married in 1953, and his son Richard. His daughter Linda predeceased him.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2007 334 101].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England