Berthold Grünfeld

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Berthold Grünfeld

Berthold Grünfeld (b. 22 January 1932 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia; d. 20 August 2007 in Oslo, Norway) was a Jewish psychiatrist, sexologist, and professor of social medicine at the University of Oslo.[1]

Grünfeld's work and activism were prominent in the liberalisation of the abortion law in Norway in 1978.


Grünfeld was born in Bratislava in what was then Czechoslovakia. In 1939, when he was seven, he was sent with a Nansen passport to Norway via Berlin by train together with 34 other Jewish children, accompanied by representatives of Nansenhjelpen and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

Once in Norway, Grünfeld was first placed at the Jewish children's home in Oslo, then lived as a foster child with a Jewish family in Trondheim before returning to the orphanage. During the occupation of Norway, Grünfeld avoided capture and deportation by fleeing with members of the Norwegian Resistance in 1942 to neutral Sweden, where he stayed until the war ended. He returned to the children's home in 1946. The Jewish community funded his education.

Berthold Grünfeld earned his medical degree in 1960, when he also met his future wife Gunhild. He was awarded his doctorate in medicine in 1973 based on a dissertation on abortion. In 1993, he was made professor of social medicine at the University of Oslo.

Grünfeld was noted for his academic contributions within sexology, on the issues of abortion and euthanasia, and within forensic psychology. In addition to his advocacy and teaching, he acted as an expert witness in criminal cases, and as a consultant on human relations and sexology for Oslo Helseråd. His dissertation influenced the reform of abortion laws in Norway.


Grünfeld and his wife had three children and six grandchildren. In 2005, his daughter Nina Grünfeld made a film, Origin Unknown, about her efforts to research her father's background and heritage.