On 28 May 2024, an event dedicated to Ludwik Hirszfeld – the eminent, but forgotten, Polish bacteriologist and immunologist – was held at the PAN Scientific Station in Paris.

The meeting began with a lecture by Professor Bogumiła Szponar from the Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy of the Polish Academy of Sciences, who presented a lecture entitled ‘Research paths and the scientific legacy of Professor Ludwik Hirszfeld’. The Institute, which was founded by Hirszfeld himself just before his death, still continues and builds on the research initiated years ago by this outstanding scientist. Professor Szponar talked not only about Hirszfeld’s most important achievements, but also about what happened later – the work of successive generations of scientists at the Institute.

Another highly anticipated highlight of the evening was the screening of the film Mensch – the first feature-length story about Ludwig Hirszfeld. The film presented the history and achievements of the researcher through previously unpublished archive material, interviews with scientists and re-enactments. The biography of Hirszfeld, his family and the sacrifices they made in the name of science moved the audience in the room.

The screening was followed by a meeting with the director, Paweł Wysoczański, who, in a conversation with representatives of the Polish Institute in Paris (Marzena Moskal and Thomas Merkez), revealed the background to the making of the film, the genesis of the idea, and then answered questions from the audience about the production and details of the Hirszfelds’ lives. Of particular interest to the audience, as well as to the director himself, was the theme of Hirszfeld’s life and work in the Warsaw Ghetto, where, despite the possibility of escape, he decided to stay and support young people and those in need.

The event aroused many emotions, positive but also difficult ones, related to forgotten Poles – scientists and inventors, whom we should bring back to life by telling their story.

The exhibition Ludwik Hirszfeld – Polish researcher of blood types can be visited at the Polish Academy of Sciences Scientific Centre in Paris (74 rue Lauriston) until 30 August 2024, 9:30 am – 1 pm; 2 pm – 4:30 pm.