Otfrid Foerster, the great neurologist and neurosurgeon from Breslau (Wrocław): his influence on early neurosurgeons and legacy to present-day neurosurgery

Natalia PiotrowskaDepartment of Neurosurgery, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany

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Peter A. WinklerDepartment of Neurosurgery, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany

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 M.D., Ph.D.
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✓ As a result of the turbulences of World War II, Wrocław, Poland (formerly Breslau, Germany) lost its internationally acknowledged position in the field of neurosurgery, which it once had thanks to Otfrid Foerster. This innovative German doctor and scientist made a considerable contribution to the development of neurological and neurosurgical research worldwide. He also made Breslau a renowned center for scientific study, luring researchers from around the world. His achievements influenced many neurosurgeons during his lifetime, above all those from the US and England, including, for example, such well-known men as Fulton, Bucy, Bailey, and Penfield (who worked with Foerster in Breslau for quite a long time). Together Foerster and Penfield searched for the causes of epilepsy and the surgical methods to treat it. For young American neurosurgeons it was a very significant step in their careers to be able to train in Breslau under the guidance of Otfrid Foerster. In 1937 the British Association of Neurological Surgeons visited Breslau and awarded him with the honor of “Member Emeritus,” which could be seen as the culmination of Foerster's career.

In this paper the authors give an overview of Foerster's work and evaluate its significance. They also elucidate the difficult historical background during fascism in Germany using the sources of the Polish National Archives. Dr. Foerster's remaining traces in today's Wrocl/aw are meticulously reported.

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