Hall 7 - BOARD 18

FOREIGN MISSIONS 3

Dutch mission

DUTCH MEDICAL MISSION to Valjevo region was led by Dr. Arius van Tienhoven (1886-1965), who hold the position of the chief surgeon in the Valjevo Military Hospital from November 1914 to April 1915, noting that the mortality in the Valjevo Hospital was 90%.

His team comprised three Dutch ladies: assistant and head nurse De Groote and nurses Van der Maden and Westerhoff and orderlies Henken and Das. They came to Serbia in August 1914.

Dr Tienhoven, by order of the commander of the Drina Division, was a member of the Commission, which identified the crimes against civilians committed by the Austro-Hungarian army, namely the massacres carried out in the Valjevo region, especially in Zavlaka.

There were victims of typhus among the members of the Dutch Mission. Those who succumbed to the disease were orderly Das and nurses Van der Maden and Westerhoff, while a nurse de Groote did not fall ill. His closest aide, orderly A.F.Henken also contracted the disease and died on his return, at home, in the Netherlands. Dr. Tienhoven also fell ill but was cured by famous physician Dr. Selimir Đorđevic. Then, at the end of February 1915, he left Valjevo and returned to the Netherlands. Soon, next year, once again he provided expert assistance to our exhausted army in Durrës, on the islands of Corfu and Vido. His memories of the tragic days spent with the Serbian people, were published in the illustrated diary The Horrors of War in Serbia - a diary of a war surgeon, published in French in 1918.

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Swiss mission

When it comes to the work of foreign doctors on combating the epidemics in Valjevo, the arrival of Prof. Dr. Ludwig Hirszfeld (1884-1957), a Jew from Warsaw, assistant professor of bacteriology at the Medical School in Zurich, was of the utmost importance for bacteriological work. In February 1915, he arrived in Valjevo, at the Hospital of the 5th Infantry Regiment. At that time the French Medical Commission was working in Valjevo, under the direction of well-known researcher and expert on typhus, Konsep.

The arrival of Hirszfeld meant a breakthrough in bacteriological work and he is rightly considered the founder of bacteriology and the first bacteriology lecturer in Serbia. The condition he found in the Hospital in Valjevo was described in his book: The Story of One Life.

Prof. Hirszfeld was assisted by Major Dr Aleksandar Savić and Dr. Klocmana, a physician and chemists who managed to isolate the germ of typhoid. That was the first typhoid vaccine grown in Europe. His wife, Dr. Hana, arrived in Valjevo soon. After the occupation they retreated to Corfu where he established a bacteriological laboratory at the Medical Corps Department of the Supreme Command; then he discovered: pentavalent vaccine against cholera, typhus and paratyphoid A, B and C, and he isolated previously unknown strain of typhoid which is today called Salmonella hirsyfeldi. In May 1917, in Thessaloniki, Serbian Crown Prince Alexander Hospital was open, where Dr. Hirszfeld and Dr. Stajić together educated Serbian bacteriological staff. On return to Serbia, the Hirszfelds became the members of the Serbian Medical Society, and Ludwig was appointed the first Head of the Bacteriological Department of the Military Hospital in Belgrade. They left Yugoslavia in 1919 and returned to Switzerland.

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