VINETA BLITSONE and MĀRTIŅŠ VESPERIS
Pauls Stradiņš Museum of the History of Medicine, Riga (Latvia)
Faculty Members of the Department of Medicine at the University of Latvia during World War I
A great many people who would go on to become medical faculty members at the University of Latvia were drafted into the army during World War I. The university was established in 1919, which means that before then most of these people worked either in private practice, hospitals, private clinics or as physicians for various organizations. Some, like Mārtiņš Zīle (1863–1945) and Roberts Krimbergs (1874–1941), taught at other universities, medical institutes or institutions in the Russian Empire. Some were still children or elementary or high school students – Pauls Stradiņš (1896–1958) and Aleksandrs Bieziņš (1897–1975). There have been no major studies of the work of the medical faculty during World War I. Most studies of the medical faculty members have focused on their research and scholarly work as instructors at various universities, institutes or institutions. Medical historian Arnis Vīksna (1942–2018) has written that more than 150 faculty members who had worked at the University of Latvia between 1919 and 1950 were drafted into the army as doctors or medical students. More than 50 individuals, including Ksenija Skulme (1893–1967) and Austra Bebre (1892–1965) were mobilized as nurses. The Pauls Stradiņš Museum of the History of Medicine and several other institutions has memoirs, correspondence and other materials from the faculty members. These offer a look into the work of these people in field hospitals, treatment facilities or refugee hospitals of the Russian military during World War I. Particularly unique and seldom analyzed has been the correspondence of Kārlis Barons (1865–1944) and his family members between 1914 and 1917, when he was a doctor at a military hospital in Grodno. Professor Jēkabs Alksnis (1870–1958) and several other faculty members wrote memoirs about their work during the war.