Christoph Zischek, MD; Erhard Grunwald, MD, PhD; Michael Engelhardt, MD
The First World War, mankind’s first high-technology conflict, resulted in unprecedented mass mortality. Medical services were confronted with overwhelming challenges in treating casualties from mobile warfare, trench warfare, battles on different fronts and infectious diseases. In this article, we give an overview of the organization of the German army medical service using contemporary reports in order to describe surgical and medical developments that originated from the experience. Consulting physicians (beratende arzte), many of whom were internationally known specialists, had a great impact; some of their innovations remain in use today, including the scientific evaluation of contemporary conflicts, the implementation of different echelons of care with a fast movement of patients, and the treatment of penetrating wounds.
Accepted Mar. 26, 2018
Acknowledgements: The authors thank Cpt. (Navy) Volker Hartmann and Lt.-Col. Mirko Urbatschek of the Medical Academy of the German Medical Service for their support and permission to use the authentic photographs from the Wehrgeschichtliche Lehrsammlung and the figure from the kriegssanitätsordnung.
Affiliations: From the Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Bundeswehrkrankenhaus Ulm (Zischek, Engelhardt); and the Institute of Ethics, History und Theory of Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (Grunwald).
Competing interests: None declared.
Contributors: All authors contributed substantially to the conception, writing and revision of this article and approved the final version for publication.
Correspondence to: C. Zischek, Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Bundeswehrkrankenhaus Ulm, Oberer Eselsberg 40, 89081 Ulm, Germany, christophZischek@bundeswehr.org