Burghard Breitner

Burghard Breitner as born on 16.6.1884 in Mattsee near Salzburg as the son of the writer Anton Breitner († 28.3.1956), studied in Graz, Kiel and Vienna and received his doctorate in 1908 as a doctor of holistic medicine. After his military service in the garrison hospital in Trieste he was a ship's doctor (North Africa, North America, Scandinavia) and became assistant at the I. Surgical Clinic in Vienna with Prof. v. Eiselsberg. He said himself: "After the first lecture I heard from Eiselsberg, I could no longer resist the desire to become a surgeon. It was not until much later that I realized that it was not the surgical profession that had the deepest attraction for me at that time, but rather the way the sick were presented, the human cleanliness and the strong emphasis on medical ethics that had made the greatest impression on me.
In 1912, during the 1st Balkan War, he worked in hospitals of the Bulgarian headquarters, and in 1914 he was one of the first to be drafted to Russia with a cavalry division, and soon became a prisoner of war. After the end of the war in 1918 he voluntarily stayed in Siberia to help his war comrades. It was not until 1920 that he - called the "Angel of Siberia" - returned to Vienna and to the I. Surgical Clinic with the last prisoner transport.
In 1922 he was awarded the venia legendi and in 1927 he was appointed extraordinary university professor. 

Already in 1928 the American Society for the Study of Goiter invited him to an operation and lecture tour. In 1930 he becomes an honorary member of the Society. In 1929 he became Primarius of the Rudolf Foundation in Vienna, and in 1932 he was appointed to the Board of the Surgical University Clinic in Innsbruck, where he remained until his retirement in 1955. He published over 200 scientific papers from all areas of surgery and numerous books. For example, the teaching of thyroid diseases or the book on sports damages and sports injuries.  His scientific work was crowned by the publication of the famous Breitner's Theory of Surgery, which has been continuously supplemented to this day by his successors in the office, among others. Besides science, one of his main concerns was the Red Cross. He himself trained generations of rescuers and became president of the Austrian Red Cross in 1950. He said himself: "I came to Innsbruck for the first time on the occasion of a training lecture for rescue workers. The impression was extraordinary, the desire to work here was great." But Breitner was not only known as a doctor, but also as an author of plays and dramas, travel books ("View of Japan", "Mormons and Medicine Men"), war memories ("Captured Uninjured"), professional books such as "Medical Ethics", "Revolt against the Biological Law", "The Problem of Bisexuality". His probably most famous book was completed only two years before his death, it was called "Hand an 2 Plows" and is a volume of memoirs that can still be read with extraordinary excitement today.

For the students of the time, Breitner's lectures were an unforgettable source of pleasure. Prof. Blum in Feldkirch, who had been his lecture assistant for two years, put together a delicious series of anecdotes, had drawings made for them and published this book in his own publishing house. The bust of Prof. Breitner in front of the Great Lecture Hall of Surgery commemorates this man of so many talents. The Institute of Contemporary History is currently investigating the past of Prof. Breitner. We will report on the results in due course.