Albert Louis Philippe Schweitzer
Why to the voice of Schweitzer with such attention listened to people around the globe? Why now, when he is no longer in the world, do people remember him and return to his books? Finally, why in 1953 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?
Einstein once said that high moral qualities are more important for the researcher than talent. Albert Schweitzer - German doctor, philosopher, theologian, musicologist, who founded in 1913 at his own expense in Africa a hospital for lepers, where he worked until the end of his days, was a scientist who equally possessed both. "There is no satisfaction higher than treating people," said this man, one of the most humane people of the 20th century. He gave more than 50 years of life to the treatment of Negroes in the remote jungles of Gabon in Lambarene (West Africa). He devoted dozens of books and hundreds of articles.
Albert Schweitzer was professor of theology at Strasbourg University when he read an article on the plight of Negro sufferers without medical assistance. A small French mission in Gabon appealed in this article with an appeal to young doctors to come to work among the local population. Schweitzer decided to respond to this call. The professor of theology became a medical student of his own university and paid for his studies at the expense of his organ concerts. The doctoral dissertation on musicology of Schweitzer was dedicated to Bach, whose biography he published in 1905.
Learning about the intention of a professor of philosophy, theology and musicology, his friends found him almost crazy. His teacher, the famous French organist Charles-Marie Widor, told him: "Generals do not go into battle with a rifle." Schweizer also went and fought for the
rest of his life for the health of the dispossessed people of the colonial country. His work is an example of the heroism of an ordinary practitioner.
Albert Louis Philippe Schweitzer (Albert Schweitzer) was born on January 14, 1875 in the small town of Kaisersberg, in Upper Alsace. Then the family moved to the village of Gunsbach, in which his childhood passed. In addition to him, the family had five children - four girls and one boy. His parents were French: Father Louis Schweitzer (ca. 1925) - pastor, mother Adel Schweitzer (1841-1916), daughter of the pastor and organist Johann Schillinger, from whom Albert, by his own admission, inherited the ability to play on the organ. At the age of five, his father taught Albert the game on the piano.
After graduating from a rural school in Gьnsbach and a gymnasium in Mьhlhausen, Albert in the autumn of 1893 entered Strasbourg University. Here he diligently studies philosophy, theology, and music. His teachers during the university years were Theobald Ziegler and Wilhelm Windelband - the followers of I. Kant. They had some influence on the formation of the views of the student. Kant, according to Schweitzer, is the greatest thinker. Kant's role in German philosophy, he compared with the role of Bach in German music.
It is not by chance that Schweizer, on the proposal of Ziegler, chose the philosophy of Kant's religion for the topic of his doctoral dissertation on philosophy. However, in his dissertation, the young scientist not only considered the philosophical and religious views of the great
philosopher, but also entered into a dispute with him, proving the inconsistency of the thinker in solving ethical problems. In 1899 Schweitzer's doctoral dissertation "Philosophy of Kant's Religion" was published. This was his first printed work, except for a small pamphlet dedicated to the musical mentor E. Munch.
After defending the thesis, T. Ziegler offers a young philosopher to work as a privat-docent at the philosophy department of the University of Strasbourg, but Schweizer chooses a modest place for a pastor in the church of St. Nicholas in Strasbourg. But the pastor did not work long, in 1902 he became a privat-docent of theology in his native university.
Frequent trips to France bring Schweitzer closer to the Parisian scientific and artistic intelligentsia. In the first years of the twentieth century, he spoke at the Paris Scientific and Art Society with reports on German literature and philosophy (on Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Hauptmann), he closely matched the famous composers and organist-performer, his teacher Sh.M. Vidorom (1844-1937). By 1905 Schweitzer's acquaintance with R. Rolland, which later developed into a deep and faithful friendship, as well as with A. Einstein.
About Schweizer we started talking. About him writes R. Rolland. Organ concerts, with which Schweizer acts, attract attention and cause admiration of the public in various European countries. Schweitzer was a brilliant organist-virtuoso, the greatest master of his time. Stefan Zweig, who once came to Gьnsbach to talk with Schweitzer and listen to Bach's music in his performance, wrote later that when he listened to Schweitzer, he forgot about the flow of time, forgot about where he was, and when he came to himself , understood that he was crying. And it was at this time when recognition, security, fame came to the young scientist and musician so quickly that he unexpectedly refused to continue his brilliant career and in 1905 entered the medical faculty of Strasbourg University. How much time was needed to study at the age of 30, the following words of Schweitzer say: "In theology and music, I was, I might say, at home, for there were many pastors and organists in my family, and I grew up in an environment where the presence of both was felt. But medicine! It was a completely new world for me, I was not ready for it ... How many times, after returning from frenzied studies at the medical faculty, I fled to Wilhelmkirch to Ernst Munich, in order that some hour given to music (oh omnipotent Bach!) , restored my balance and peace of mind. "
So, Professor Schweitzer sits down again for the student bench. For 6 years course after course with inherent tenacity, he overcame the secrets of healing. He studied with equal zeal therapies and gynecology, dentistry and pharmacy, knowing that in tropical Africa he will not have consultants and advisers - everything will have to be decided by himself. The professor paid special attention to surgery. It was a colossal work. Often he had to sleep for three or four hours a day. After reading the lectures for students, he hastened to listen to lectures at the medical faculty, and then stayed up late at night in the anatomical theater.
Albert Schweitzer passed the last exams on December 17, 1911, and in the spring of 1912 he went to Paris to specialize in tropical medicine. But that's bad luck. When it was time to get a doctor's diploma, unexpected and seemingly insurmountable difficulties appeared: according to the law, the professor was not supposed to be a student. On this occasion, there is a curious correspondence between the leadership of Strasbourg University and the Minister of Education of Kaiser Germany. As an exception, the university authorities are allowed to give Schweizer not a diploma, but a certificate of graduation from the medical faculty. Dr. Schweitzer's doctoral dissertation on medicine "Psychiatric evaluation of the personality of Jesus" was published in Tьbingen in 1913. And already on March 21 of the same year, together with his wife Helena-Marianna, Albert Schweitzer departs on the steamship "Europe" in the then French Equatorial Africa (now the Republic of Gabon).
Helena, before the marriage of Breslau (1879-1957), is the daughter of a historian of the Middle Ages, Professor of Strasbourg University Harry Breslau. Initially Helena Breslau prepared herself for pedagogical activity and early started teaching at a school for girls. After a long stay in Italy, where she traveled with her parents (her father worked there in the archives), she decides to leave her pedagogical work, devote herself to the study of painting and sculpture and is engaged in the history of arts in Strasbourg. But it does not last long. In the autumn of 1902 she went to England, where she worked as a teacher in the workers' suburbs. After that, at the invitation of
friends, she goes to Russia, lives in Poltava and studies Russian there. Returning to Strasbourg, she enters medical courses and, at the end of her time, devotes herself to cares for orphans and single mothers. In 1907, a house for single mothers with children was opened on the outskirts of Strasbourg, and a young girl began to work there, not fearing the condemnation of a society in whose eyes such women were considered as fallen.
In 1902, Helena first heard the game Schweitzer on the organ - he performs the chant of Bach in the church, where she at this time comes with the children. Soon Helena and Albert met. The music brought them closer. "Music has always been our best friend," she later recalled. The commonality of views on life as a duty to people increasingly brings Albert and Helen closer together. Their meetings are becoming more frequent. Helena was the first to whom Schweitzer announced his decision to study medicine, in order to then go to Africa. Communication with Helen undoubtedly strengthened the determination with which Albert preferred the doctor's work to everything else. At the same time, all this time she actively helped her future husband in his literary works and reading proofs. They were married on July 18, 1912, less than a year before the trip to Lambaren. Helena received a medical education: she graduated from the nurses' courses.
Albert Schweitzer's mother did not want to agree with his decision. The steadfast spirit of the Schillingers did not soften. The will that carried her son to Africa deprived him of his mother's blessing. He had never seen her again. Adel Schweitzer died on July 3, 1916 as a result of an accident near Gьnsbach: during the war she was put to death by a German cavalryman.
The Schweitzer couple arrived on the 16th of April to the place of their new work in Lambarene. Initially, Dr. Schweitzer began to take patients and make bandages and open-air operations. When the storm broke out, he had to hurry everything to the veranda. "The reception of patients in the sun was very exhausting,"
Against sleeping sickness, yaws, scabies and many other diseases, the natives were completely powerless and did not try to do anything, but simply threw the sick to the mercy of fate. The patient usually lay in the farthest and dirty corner of the hut. When the agony came, the natives carried the dying man into the forest and threw him there, so as not to hear screaming and yelling. They tied the mental patients to a tree somewhere far away from the village, and the lepers were simply driven out into the forest, where they were eaten by wild beasts. There is no way to tell even a small part of the contagious diseases that Dr. Schweitzer treated with a risk to his life. Without going into details, we state that with the arrival of Schweitzer, much has changed for the better.
"My work is greatly hampered by the fact that I can keep only a few medicines in the chicken coop," Schweitzer says. "Almost for every patient, I have to go through the yard to my office to hang out or prepare the necessary medicine there, which is very tiring and takes a lot of time from me. When will the barracks of corrugated iron be finally ready, where will my hospital be located? Will it be possible to complete it before the long rainy season? And what should I do if he is not ready by that time? In the hot season, there is no way to work in the henhouse. "
The Schweitzer family lived like in prison. Lambarene lacked not only a place to work, but also air for breathing. There was an unbearable stuffiness. The coop was surrounded by a 30-meter high tropical forest through which the breeze, no matter how hard it tried, could not get through. The sun here is the most formidable enemy, sunny blows with grave consequences happened more often than anything else. The wife of one missionary absentmindedly walked several meters in the heat with her head uncovered and immediately went blind: she had a severe fever, accompanied by formidable symptoms. One of the white workers who worked in the factory stayed to rest after dinner, and the sun's rays were small, the size of a thaler, holes in the roof to cause a severe fever with delirium. Undressing was unthinkable and for another reason - flies of tsetse flew around the clouds, carriers of sleeping sickness. In addition, the grass was swarming with a variety of snakes.
"I was hoping that I would not have to do serious operations until a barrack was built, but my hopes were not justified," Schweitzer said. - On August 15, I had to operate on a patient with an injured hernia. Anesthesia was given by my wife. Everything went better than you might have expected. Most of all I was shocked by the trust with which this negro lay down on the operating table. Of course, asepsis was far from perfect, but there was no choice. "
With the construction of the barracks, Schweitzer's wife had more opportunity to participate in the healing process, the chicken coop had barely enough space for one person. In addition to farming, which in Africa is fraught with many difficulties, she had to manage the washing and subsequent boiling of soiled and infectious bandages, then participate in operations as an anesthesiologist. Once there was a boy among the patients who did not want to enter the operating room, so great was his horror before the doctor. For one and a half years he suffered from a purulent osteoma of the lower leg with the size of a hand. The smell of pus was so disgusting that it was impossible to endure. The boy was emaciated to the last degree and looked like a skeleton. As it turned out, he was sure that the doctor was going to kill him and eat it. The unfortunate little boy knew about cannibalism not from children's fairy tales, among the natives, it was not finally taken out at that time.
The whole horror of Equatorial Africa lies in the fact that there does not grow and never grew fruit plants or fruit trees. Banana bushes, cassava, yam (dioscorea), sweet potatoes and oil palm trees did not grow here from the beginning, but were brought here by the Portuguese from the West Indies. This has brought invaluable benefits to Africa. In areas where these useful plants have not yet penetrated or where they did not properly take root, there was a constant hunger during Schweitzer's stay there. This forced parents to sell children to areas lying downstream. Dr. Schweitzer had patients who belonged to the number of "earthlings". Hunger forced the natives to eat the land, and this habit was preserved in them even when they stopped starving.
There is no way to talk about all the difficulties that the Schweitzer couple had to experience. The climate of Equatorial Africa was disastrous for Helena's health. As a result, about half of her married life she spent in Europe and only a short time came several times to Lambaren. She spent the last year and a half there. Nonhuman loads caused Helena's shaky health. This forced the couple together with her daughter Ren, who was born on January 14, 1919, to go on May 22, 1957 to Europe. Severely ill, Helena returns to the family house in Koenigsfeld (Black Forest, Switzerland). Ten days later she died in a hospital in Zurich. Her ashes were transported and buried in Lambara