Hall 3 - BOARD 6

AT THE HEIGHT OF THE EPIDEMICS

(December 1914 - May 1915)

After the defeat in the Battle of Kolubara, Austro-Hungarian troops were forced to retreat from the territory of Serbia and to defend their borders. Their plans to launch a new offensive in January could not be realized since other frontlines were open as the Russia launched an offensive in the Carpathians and Italy entered the war.

Serbia's previous military victories came at a high cost. From 1 July 1914 to October 1915, 707,343 men were recruited - 40% of the total male population, far more than any other warring country. Only during the first year of the war 210 officers, 8,074 non-commissioned officers and 15, 375 soldiers were rendered hors de combat and an enormous number of civilians was killed.

At the very end of 1914, the problems became several times more serious by emergence of infectious diseases, especially typhus. Suffering consequences of the epidemics 35,000 soldiers and 100,000 civilians died. Of 534 doctors, as Serbia had then, about 150 perished. Thanks to great efforts, with the wholehearted help of foreign medical missions, the epidemics was suppressed by the end of spring 1915.

The main focus of the typhus epidemics was Valjevo. With the retreat of the Austro-Hungarian army from Valjevo on 9 December 1914, the town was in very poor hygienic conditions - there were about 4,000 Austro-Hungarian wounded soldiers left, and soon new wounded and sick, both Serbian soldiers and prisoners of war, were coming from field hospitals. In such a situation typhus epidemics erupted, spreading further across Serbia. With great dedication of the Serbian Medical Corps, and more than precious help from the citizens of Valjevo, the mission of allied and neutral countries, and captured Austro-Hungarian doctors and nurses, the epidemics was supressed by the end of May 1915. At the height of the epidemics more than a hundred people (even over one hundred and fifty) died in Valjevo only. The mortality reached 70 percent of the total number of the patients at times. It was estimated that more than 3,500 soldiers, 4,000 civilians and around 2,000 Austro-Hungarian prisoners died during the epidemics in Valjevo.

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