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Chirurg. 2007 Mar;78(3):265-8, 270-2.

[On the centennial of Ernst von Bergmann's death].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Operatives Zentrum, Bundeswehrkrankenhaus, Scharnhorststrasse 13 , 10115 Berlin.


"dear aunt lina. i do not know any big letters yet, but i want to thank you in small letters for the beautiful pens. say hello to grandpa and to everybody. yours truly, ernst." These are the first surviving written words of Ernst von Bergmann. Between them and his last words about his suspected colon cancer on 25 March 1907 ("I diagnosed this 5 years ago, and now it has come to pass.") lie many years in a vigorous life characterised by untiring activity and creativity, self-discipline, and care for patients and his family. They were years of enormous success in surgery and private happiness but also of professional setbacks and tragic family loss. Ernst von Bergmann became a leading German surgeon not only because of his surgical and scientific achievements, particularly in the fields of asepsis and war surgery, but also due to his exemplary character, reliability, engaging personality, and commitment to medical training in various medical societies. Of these, the German Society of Surgery is most indebted to him. After assuming a chair in surgery in 1882, he continued to play a leading role in this society, not least as its five-time president from 1888 to 1890 and in 1896 and 1900. A worthy successor to Bernhard von Langenbeck, he was a full professor at the Berlin University Hospital for 25 years. He also taught at the Medical and Surgical Academy for the Military after being appointed there by Emperor Wilhelm I on 16 November 1882. This position was important to him and corresponded to his patriotic views.

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