Russian Museum of Military Medicine
The Russian Museum of Military Medicine (Russian: Военно-медицинский музей Министерства обороны Российской Федерации) is situated in the center of Saint Petersburg, Russia, in front of Vitebsky Rail Terminal.
The Museum was founded in 1942. Its initial creation was based on collections from several small specialized Russian museums. Today, the museum holds about 210,000 exhibits relating to the history of Russian and world military medicine.
The exhibits include rare old books, such as the treatise of Ambroise Paré, the famous French surgeon of the 16th century, published in Paris in 1607. There are also some documents pertinent to the State of Russia, e.g. The Arrangement of the Military Service in the Russian Army, which dates from 1706 and is the edict of the Russian Emperor Peter I of Russia. Also, of unique interest in the collection are the works of art. Some of the more noteworthy works of art include a sketch by the famous Russian painter Ilya Repin of The arrival of Nikolai Ivanovich Pirogov to Moscow celebrating the 50th anniversary of his scientific activities in 1881.
This is the last portrait made of the outstanding Russian surgeon during his lifetime. There is also displayed a historical collection of surgical instruments which dates back centuries.
Another important part of the museum is its archives of military medical documents. These archives hold more than 60 million items. Included are the medical charts of all wounded and ill military servicemen beginning with World War II and continuing through all subsequent wars or local military conflicts. Thanks to the archives, the museum archivists were able to collect data directly from one million original documents to support records in the Commemoration Book, which provides a record of the people of Russia who perished during World War II. In addition, the archives contain about 500,000 medical records of foreign citizens from 45 countries. Responding to inquiries from foreign governments, the museum located the documents of more than 100,000 people who were listed in their respective countries as missing in action.
The museum researchers carry out extensive analysis of military medical practices from all wars and other conflicts, both the past to the present, in order to improve the outcomes of medical aid. Although no matter how much improvement is made in medical care, one fact still remains clear: the monster of military destruction always overtakes and surpasses the angel of medicine. Moreover, the history of medicine reveals an even more ominous trend, which is the tendency toward the progressive dehumanization of medicine itself. Two hundred years ago, during the French-Russian wars, military doctors impartially treated both their own soldiers and the soldiers of the enemy. The Russian military doctor, Christophor Oppel, was awarded for his service on the battlefield by both the Emperors Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France at the same time! Now, 200 years later, at the beginning of the 21st century, military doctors participate in interrogation of the enemy with the intention of securing critical information with the aid of medicines. Furthermore, there exist some attempts to scientifically substantiate it, contending that the interests of the nation and government are superior to the interest of an individual (see e.g.). Hence, the implicit and definite civil super-task of the museum is the appeal to societies and governments to promote the use of medicine strictly for the benefit of humanity and not to create any conditions that might promote harm or conflict.
- Budko A.A., Bergman M.D. (Будко А.А., Бергман М.Д. ) The Fundamentals of the Conception of the Military Medicine Museum // The Military Medicine Journal (Voenno-Meditsinski Zhurnal - Военно-медицинский журнал, in Russian), 2007, Vol. 328, No 6 (June 2007), pp. 80 - 84.
- Budko A.A., Ivanova L.D. (Будко А.А., Иванова Л.Д.) The Military Medicine Museum is the Principal Guardian of the Historical Traditions of the Russian Medicine and Its Military Medical Service // Asclepius (Асклепий, in Russian), 2005, Vol. 8, No 1, pp. 46 - 57.
- Bioethics and Armed Conflict: Moral Dilemmas of Medicine and War the 'Book Review' in The New England Journal of Medicine, 2007, Vol. 356, No 13, March 29, pp. 1386-1387