Biographies/Sidney Leon Vogel

Tags: Medic Murcia Hospital Doctor Jewish American Medical Bureau Captain Mataro Hospital WWII Veteran

Researcher: Kayla Tsui, Stuyvesant '23

Dr. Sidney Leon Vogel was born on April 28th, 1904. His father, Heinrick Vogel, was also a physician. Vogel’s parents were Jewish immigrants from Germany that immigrated to America, where Vogel would eventually be born in New York City. Vogel lived on 329 W. 85th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Like his father, Vogel took an interest in medicine. Dr. Sidney Leon Vogel received a medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1927. As part of his medical career, Vogel underwent an internship at the Manhattan State Hospital, which was a psychiatric hospital for patients with mental health or behavioral conditions. He continued to practice general medicine in the 1930s in New York City. Through his medical work, as well as meeting other medical colleagues who shared progressive views about the Spanish Republic, Vogel supported the Medical Bureau of the Friends of the Spanish Democracy, which was a humanitarian group affiliated with the Lincoln Battalion. Groups such as the American Medical Bureau to Save Spanish Democracy recruited medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, and ambulance drivers to offer medical assistance to wounded soldiers fighting for the Spanish Republic. Unlike those that supported America’s non-interventionist policy during the war, organizations such as the American Medical Bureau wanted to become involved in the Spanish Civil War, recruiting health workers to go to Spain and treat patients fighting for the Republic.

On May 29, 1937, Dr. Sidney Leon Vogel volunteered to treat patients in Spain, having the title of captain when going to Murica. Vogel was the director of the Caso Roja hospital, where he supervised the hospital and continued to practice surgery. As Francisco Franco’s Nationalist army advanced their influence on Spain, Vogel was then transferred to Santa Coloma and Matarós. Vogel aided in the evacuation of the Catalan zone and had to leave the Caso Rojo hospital during the evacuation. Medical professionals such as Vogel had to make decisions on which hospitals patients should go to depending on the severity of their wounds. The Front Hospital was for patients with the most severe injuries. They needed emergency procedures such as amputation, and often had to be quickly transferred to other hospitals to make room for more urgent patients that also needed emergency procedures. With limited supplies and stretchers, emergency workers such as ambulance drivers had to quickly transport patients to different hospitals with the threat of potential bombing.

As the war continued, Vogel was then transferred to work at other hospitals, such as those in Mataró or near Barcelona. When the International Brigades withdrew from fighting in October 1938, medical workers such as Vogel continued to stay in Spain to oversee the wounded being transferred out of Spain. On August 4th, 1938, Vogal was appointed the Director of the Mataro Hospital. During his time in Spain, Vogel wrote about the blood transfusion system, admiring the efficiency and precision of the Spanish staff in treating patients. He believed the efficiency of the blood transfusion system during the war was a testament to how important organization is in utilizing war medicine to save lives. A few months before the Spanish Civil War ended, Vogel left Spain to go to Paris in January, 1939, where he then went back to New York. He returned to the United States boarding the Ile de France on February 21, 1939.

Even after the events of the Spanish Civil War, Dr. Vogel continued to volunteer as a medical professional to help the US Army. After the events of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Dr. Sidney Leon Vogel volunteered to serve in the US Army’s North African and Italian campaigns. He was one of the few medical staff with psychiatric experience, such as having worked in the Manhattan State Hospital for psychiatric patients years prior. Thus, Vogel was often assigned victims that were suffering from shellshock or post-traumatic stress disorder. After World War II, Vogel was able to retrain as a psychiatrist under the GI bill, which allowed veterans to pursue higher education. Vogel continued to research group therapy and alcoholism, publishing several articles in the 1950s about researching group psychotherapy with people struggling with alcoholism. Vogue continued to practice psychiatry in New York City until his death on April 1st, 1986.


Ink, Social. “Vogel, Sidney Leon, Dr.” The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, 26 Dec. 2022,

Vogel, Sidney. “War Medicine: Spain, 1936–1939.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 98, no. 12, Dec. 2008, pp. 2146–2149, Accessed 10 Jan. 2021.

Vogel, S. “An Interpretation of Medical and Psychiatric Approaches in the Treatment of Alcoholism.” Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, vol. 14, no. 4, 1 Dec. 1953, pp. 620–631, Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.