El gran europeo Georg Friedrich Nicolai: médico y pacifista, Berlín, Alemania, 1874 –Santiago, Chile, 1964
Georg Friedrich Nicolai (1874-1964) was a German physician and physiologist whose pacifism during the First World War led him in 1914 to cosign with W. J. Foerster, A. Einstein and O. Bueck a “Manifesto to the Europeans” against the entry of Germany into the war and the invasion of Belgium. As a result of this appeal and his strong pacifism, Nicolai lost his positions as cardiologist to the German royal family, professor at the University of Berlin and chief of laboratory at the Charité hospital also in Berlin, and was sent as a garrison physician in Graundenz, in today’s Poland. There he began to write his book, The Biology of War. It managed to avoid censorship and was published in Leipzig in 1916. He was court-martialed in Danzig in 1916 but escaped to Denmark.
Nicolai was reinstated to his faculty positions by the Weimar republic after the war but was subsequently forced to emigrate from Germany to South America by the pressure of right wing student groups who accused him of being a deserter and a traitor. From 1922 to 1932 Nicolai lived in Argentina, and from 1932 until his death in 1964, in Chile. In this later country Nicolai was professor in the University of Chile and interacted with members of the Chilean intelligentsia, including the poets Vicente Huidobro, Gonzalo Rojas and Pablo Neruda. Through his friendship with Chilean psychiatrist Agustin Tellez, Nicolai influenced the development of phenomenological psychiatric school in Chile. The Chilean novelist Fernando Alegría compared him favorably with Robert J. Oppenheimer and Linus Pauling.