NYMC Faculty Publications

"We Do Not Want Him Because He Is a Jew": The Montreal Interns' Strike of 1934

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Annals of Internal Medicine

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Radiation Medicine


Speeches by modern-day White supremacists often include such statements as "Jews will not replace us." In 1934, the French-speaking medical interns of Montreal's Roman Catholic hospitals went on strike because, they alleged, a Jew "replaced" a Roman Catholic French Canadian. Anti-Semitic social and economic boycotts and educational quotas were in existence in Canada from the 19th through the mid-20th century. There were particularly strong anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic feelings in the first half of the 20th century in Quebec, along with anti-Semitic pro-fascist political parties. In 1934, Montreal's Hôpital Notre-Dame (HND), a teaching hospital of the Université de Montréal (UM) medical school, was unable to hire a full complement of medical interns from among the newly graduated French-speaking Roman Catholic medical students. The hospital hired a French-speaking Jewish graduate of UM, Samuel Rabinovitch. The prospective interns at HND submitted a petition demanding that Rabinovitch be fired, stating, "We do not want him because he is a Jew." On 14 and 15 June 1934, HND's interns went on strike to prevent Rabinovitch from taking up his duties. The strike spread to multiple hospitals in Montreal. A Jewish urology trainee at the Hôtel Dieu hospital, Abram Stilman, was also targeted. Rabinovitch resigned in order to bring the strike to an end. The strike buttressed the case in the first half of the 20th century for American and Canadian Jewish hospitals and medical schools to ensure the education of Jewish physicians, reminds us of the origins of the slogans of modern White supremacists, and reinforces the historical basis of efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in medical education.