Medical Biography of Isak Samokovlija: The Famous Bosnian-Herzegovinian Writer

Husref Tahirović


The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the biographical, professional, and health-educational works of Dr. Isak Samakovlija, who was better known as a writer than a doctor in the country where he was born. He was born in 1889 in Goražde, the easternmost province in the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, into a modest Jewish merchant family. He attended high school in Sarajevo and completed his studies in medicine in Vienna in 1917. During the First World War, he served twice in the Austro-Hungarian army. After the end of the First World War in 1918, he completed a medical internship at the National Hospital in Sarajevo. He began his service as a doctor, first in Goražde and then in Fojnica and Sarajevo. After the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia in May 1941, he was dismissed from his duties in the service without the right to pension or support, and without the right to appeal. In the Independent State of Croatia, he was twice mobilized into the Home Guard and was manager of the clinic in the Alipašin Most refugee camp. After World War II, he was the head of the Health Education Department of the Ministry of Public Health of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. Together with a group of enthusiastic doctors, he founded and edited the first Bosnian medical journal Život i Zdravlje (Life and Health). In that journal, Dr. Samokovlija published 29 articles of health and educational content. In 1949, Dr. Samokovlija left the Ministry of Public Health and continued to edit the literature and art journal Brazda, but he still had a private practice until the end of his life. He died in Sarajevo on January 15, 1955. He was buried with the highest state honors at the Jewish cemetery in Sarajevo.

Conclusion. Isak Samakovlija (1889-1955) was one of the first medical doctors born in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He made a significant contribution to the improvement of people’s health after the First and Second World Wars in the places where he worked. His special contribution are his articles on health education.


Doctors and Writers; Isak Samokovlija; Sarajevo; Bosnia and Herzegovina

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