Google honours ‘founder of the paralympic movement’ Ludwig Guttmann with a doodle

Google Doodle Honours Ludwig Guttmann, The Man who  Founded Paralympic Movement

Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, depicted on Google Doodle, was a long time advocate for persons with disabilities. He is best known to the disability community as the father of the Paralympic Movement. Born in 1899 as an inspiration to many others, Dr. Guttmann was the first person to organize sports training for those restored to health from war injuries. They called his movement “Paralympics” and his vision led to the defeat of France and establishment of “The Games” in 1960.

Google regarded Sir Ludwig Guttmann, who established the Paralympic development, with a Doodle on his 122nd birth commemoration on Saturday. The delineation was made by Baltimore-based visitor craftsman Ashanti Fortson.

Sir Guttmann even declared the first-ever international Paralympic Games open in 1960. While his research in spinal cord injuries and other aspects of neurology is remembered by the medical fraternity around the world, his valuable contribution towards giving a platform for the disabled community to show what they have got will never be forgotten. 

The Paralympic Games has broken down barriers and brought people together to celebrate the disabled community and the endless possibilities of them performing in the best way possible. 

As the Paralympic Games kick off and reach their midpoint, we’re celebrating the life of the man who forever changed the lives of people with disabilities. Ludwig Guttmann set up the first rehabilitation center for soldiers with spinal cord injuries during World War II. This center evolved into the modern Paralympic movement that aims to use sport as a means to build confidence, strength, and health in people of all abilities. Welcome to our community of athletes, trainers, coaches, and fans.

The doodle “commends the 122nd birthday of Jewish, German-conceived British nervous system specialist Professor Sir Ludwig “Poppa” Guttmann, organizer of the Paralympic development,” the Google Doodle site said.

Guttman was brought into the world on July 3, 1899 in Tost, Germany, which presently goes under Poland. He had to leave Germany in wake of the expanding abuse of Jews during the Nazi principle. Guttman, who was one of the top neurosurgeons of Germany that time, gotten away to England in 1939 with his family.

As the top of the spinal wounds unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1948, he coordinated a bows and arrows rivalry for wheelchair clients, which later came to be known as the “Stir up Mandeville Games”, separating hindrances of inability for sports. It later developed into Paralympic Games.

Early career

Guttmann first encountered a patient with a toe injury in 1917, while he was volunteering at the Accident Hospital in Königshutte. The patient was a coal miner who later died of sepsis. Guttmann started his medical studies in April 1918 at the University of Breslau. He transferred to the University of Freiburg in 1919 and received his Doctorate of Medicine in 1924.

By 1933, Guttmann was working in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) as a neurosurgeon and lecturing at the university. Guttmann learned from the pioneer of neurosurgery Otfrid Foerster at his research institute. Despite having worked successfully as first assistant to Foerster, Guttmann was expelled from his university appointment and his job in 1933 under the Nuremberg Laws and his title changed to “Krankenbehandler” (one who treats the sick).  

With the arrival of the Nazis in power, Jews were banned from practising medicine professionally and he was assigned to work at the Breslau Jewish Hospital, where he became medical director in 1937.Following the violent attacks on Jewish people and properties during Kristallnacht on 9 November 1938, Guttmann ordered his staff to admit any patients without question. The following day he justified his decision on a case-by-case basis with the Gestapo. Out of 64 admissions, 60 patients were saved from arrest and deportation to concentration camps.


Guttmann presenting gold medal to Tony South at the 1968 Summer Paralympics in Tel Aviv

By 1952, more than 130 international competitors had entered the Stoke Mandeville Games. As the annual event continued to grow, the ethos and efforts by all those involved started to impress the organisers of the Olympic Games and members of the international community. At the 1956 Stoke Mandeville Games, Guttmann was awarded the Sir Thomas Fearnley Cup by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for his meritorious achievement in service to the Olympic movement through the social and human value derived from wheelchair sports.

His vision of an international games, the equivalent of the Olympic Games themselves, was realised in 1960 when the International Stoke Mandeville Games were held alongside the official 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Known at the time as the 9th Annual International Stoke Mandeville Games, and organised with the support of the World Federation of Ex-servicemen (an International Working Group on Sport for the Disabled), they are now recognised as the first Paralympic Games. (The term “Paralympic Games” was retroactively applied by the IOC in 1984.)

In 1961, Guttmann founded the British Sports Association for the Disabled, which would later become known as the English Federation of Disability Sport.


As “Neurological Surgeon in charge of the Spinal Injuries Centre at the Ministry of Pensions Hospital, Stoke Mandeville”, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1950 King’s Birthday Honours. On 28 June 1957, he was made an Associate Officer of the Venerable Order of Saint John.

He was promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1960, and he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1966.

On 24 October 2013, a commemorative plaque was unveiled by the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR) at the National Spinal Injuries Centre to honour Guttmann’s life and work. As an active member of the AJR, he had served on the board for over 25 years.On 3 July, 2021, he was honoured by Google with a Google Doodle.

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