Wartime Nursing and Medicine
– Fri 24 May, 16:00 – 17:30

#1 Presenter: Gunilla Svensmark
The Danish Museum of Nursing History

Danish Nursing and Nurses during the German Occupation 1940-1945 (30 min.)
During WWII Denmark was occupied by Germany 1940-1945. Although Denmark did not suffer the same deprivations as other countries, rationing of most commodities was severe. Till now, it has not been documented how Danish hospitals coped without linen, soap, fuel etc.

To secure the memories of nurses still alive for posterity, the museum 2016-2017 therefore performed 50 interviews with nurses who had worked as nurses and student nurses 1940-1945. Initially, focus was strictly on everyday life: how to cope without proper linen, soap, fuel anddecent food. The intention was to leave out the more dramatic events, as it was assumedthat they were already documented. The findings about daily hospital routines were rich and detailed with tales of poor hygiene, scabies, and ingenious substitutes for textiles, soap and decent food.

However, it soon proved impossible to curb the nurses’ need to talk about dramatic events such as hiding members of the resistance, Gestapo raids and acting as couriers for theresistance, and there
were unexpectedly many reports about hospitals being a common residence for the resistance.

It is well known that hospitals in Copenhagen were central for rescuing Jews and members of the resistance to neutral Sweden, but the interviews indicate, that most hospitals all over the country acted as refuge for the resistance. Only one interviewee defined herself as a member of a resistance group, the rest did not perceive themselves as such, they just happened to find themselves in a central position at a very special time.

#2 Presenter: Jan Knudtzon Sommerfelt-Pettersen
– Surgeon Rear Admiral (r), Specialist in Public Health, MD
– Special Advisor, Center for Maritime and Diving Med., Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen
– Former Surgeon General, Norwegian Armed Forces Joint Medical Service

Tuberculosis in the Royal Norwegian Navy during The Second World War (30 min.)
Tuberculosis became a great problem in the Royal Norwegian Navy during the first years of the Second World War – when it operated in allied services mainly from Great Britain – with the highest incidence (9.6 per 1 000) during the first half of 1943.

Main reasons were insufficient medical examination of recruits, crowded living conditions on board (favoured the contagion) and the physical and psychological pressure during sea operations, which may have reduced the immune defence.

Preventive measures in terms of tuberculin testing, chest X-rays of the positives, vaccination of the negatives, environment investigation when disease was discovered, and isolation of those infected, gave control from the second half of 1943 and onwards. Also treatment, repatriation and the incidence of tuberculosis in the Navy before and after the war is discussed.

The tuberculosis situation became so favourable that routine chest X-ray of the recruits was discontinued.