History of Medicine


An Open Access Journal

Polish physicians in Harbin (the first half of the 20th century)

Pavel E. Ratmanov1, Slawomir Lotysz2, Jerzy Czajewski3
1 Far Eastern State Medical University
35 Muravyeva-Amurskogo St., Khabarovsk, 680000, Russia
2 Institute for the History of Science, Polish Academy of Sciences
72 Nowy Swiat St., pok. 9, 00-330 Warsaw, Poland 
3 Polish Harbiners Club
37 Hrubieszowska St., 71-047 Szczecin, Poland
The analysis of the activities of Polish physicians in Harbin in the first half of the 20th century was carried out. The study is based on a wide range of Russian and Polish sources and literature. The first Polish physicians came to Manchuria after the beginning of the Chinese Eastern Railway (CER) construction in 1897. They were both full-time railway doctors, were sent from the European part of Russia to fight the epidemics and then were mobilized to the Russo-Japanese war. In the conditions of national and religious tolerance created in the zone of the CER, the Polish colony of Harbin created a secular cultural and educational organization called “Gospoda Polska” in 1907. Polish doctors played a leading role in the medical-sanitary service of the CER in the prerevolutionary period. They held its key positions: F.A. Jasieński was the chief doctor, and T.I. Nowkuński was the senior doctor of the Central Hospital of the CER. After the revival of an independent Polish state in 1918, a branch of the Polish Red Cross was established in Harbin to provide medical assistance to refugees who became Polish citizens. Doctor T.I. Nowkuński became its chairman. The Polish Red Cross in Harbin organized a free outpatient clinic and a bacteriological laboratory. In 1921–1925, a significant number of the Poles left Harbin for Poland, among whom there were many doctors. Despite the creation of a strong Polish national community (with their schools, churches, etc.), Polish doctors in Manchuria did not separate themselves from other doctors from the Russian Empire. Polish doctors did not create their own medical society in Harbin. They actually headed the leading medical society of Harbin, the Medical Society of the CER Central Hospital. There were no exclusively Polish medical facilities in Harbin in the 1920s; therefore, Polish doctors engaged in medical practice in Manchuria together with their Russian colleagues. After the establishment of the puppet state of Manchukuo in 1932, the flow of Poles from China intensified. Most of the Polish citizens left Harbin after the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Keywords: history of medicine, Polish community, Manchuria, doctors, Red Cross, Gospoda Polska, Chinese Eastern Railway


From 2021

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