The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

1876-1952, On the 120th anniversary of his birth
Wrote About Patients Who Suffered From Hunger in 1933

*From the Editorial Board.


Mykola Strazhesko is worthy of good memory and gratefulness since in hard times he did not waive high moral principle, though it risked his neck.


Almost nobody knows to-day that in the middle of 1933 he published an article in Ukrainian journal Vrachebnoe delo (Medical practice): On the Problem of Pathogenesis of Oedemata.


It seemed to be a purely academic text but, when analyzing the causes of oedemata, he wrote about the patients who suffered from hunger oedemata because of starvation.


It was notices in the conclusion that the patients recovered under normal nourishment. In other words, such patients, if think over the hint, are to be treated in the public arena, rather than in hospitals.


That was a manful and noble deed of a scientist and, by the way, he was the only who openly said about starvation in the period of artificial famine in Ukraine and its total ignoring.


Academician Mykola Strazhesko
Article By Volodymyr Bobrov
AGAPIT 5-6, 1996
The Ukrainian Historical and Medical Journal
National Museum of Medicine of Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine


M.D.Strazhesko has gone down in the history of the world medicine as a giant of scientific thought and as an outstanding clinicist.

The future academician was born in Odessa on October 30, 1876 in the family of Dmytro Yegorovych Strazhesko, a lawer. Having successfully finished the Odessa gymnasium (1894) he entered medical faculty of the Kyiv University.

Upon graduating from the University he was admitted as the intern at the Department of Internal Pathology headed by Professor V.P.Obraztsov, one of the founders of the Kyiv school of therapeutists. In 1901 Strazhesko left for a mission abroad (Paris, Berlin, Munchen) and on his return he was sent, on the initiative of V.P.Obraztsov, to Peterbourg to I.P.Pavlov`s laboratory, and 2 years later he defended theses for the doctor`s degree in digestion physiology.

From the very beginning of his doctor`s activity Strazhesko was mostly interested in the heart diseases, especially in the patients with the gravest run of this pathology, which was most often diagnosed on the operation table. His exclusive power of observation and purposefulness which was approved by V.P.Obraztsov soon gave its results.

These were the results of their mutual observations and profound analysis that were the theme of Prof. V.P.Obraztsov and his assistant professor M.D.Strazhesko report at the 1st Congress of Russian Therapeutists "On Symptomatology and Diagnosis of Thrombosis of Coronary Arteries of the Heart" in December 1909, which was published in the Congress Transactions and then in foreign publications.

Though the report of the researchers was not discussed at the congress, their work became known all over the world. That was an example of clinical thought and innovatory to the problem decision.

The deserve of the scientists consisted not only in the fact that they were the first ones to make the life-time diagnosis of coronary thrombosis but mainly in representation of a vivid clinical picture of this disease that was first in the world literature. That permitted all the practical physicians to perform the life-time diagnosis of this disease. Thus, already in the early 19th century this classical work became a foundation of the further development of the teaching on myocardial infarction.

In his final speech at the 1st Congress of Russian Therapeutists, Prof. V.N.Syrotinin, a pupil of S.P.Botkin, noted that the participants of the Congress were present at the birth of a new school of therapeutist, the leading part in it belonged to the scientists from Kyiv.

To summarize the achievements of the world therapy, K.Lian, the French clinicist, noted that the beginning of the 20th century was marked by a new stage in the development of visceral medicine which had opened a new era in the study of the myocardial infarction and, V.P.Obraztsov and M.D.Strazhesko were the pioneers in the decision of this problem.

Such was a quick raise of the authority of a young physician already at the end of the first decade of his activity.

But the priorities of Strazhesko in the diagnosis of the heart and vessels diseases are not exhausted by this.

In 1908, in his work On the Heart Melody the Edems-Stokes Disease Strazhesko (first in the world literature) described a sharp increase of the tone I under this pathology and explained in detail the mechanism of its formation. From that point it became conventional to call this acoustic phenomenon the canon sound of Strazhesko.

In 1911 Strazhesko explained for the first time the formation mechanism of additional systolic sound under aortic incompetence.

M.D.Strazhesko has made an outstanding contribution to the theory of reumatism. Being the main speaker from his country at International fora, contrary to the Schottmuller unitary theory, Strazhesko has shown that reumatism is a polyethyological disease, being a monopathogenetic one and that it develops in allergized organism.

In his work "Strophantin as the Heart Drug" Strazhesko, basing on his personal experiments and clinical observations, first gave an exhaustive explanation of pharmacodynamics of this drug, established its indications and contra-indications as well as admissible doses.

At last, it should be noticed that M.D.Strazhesko was the first to make the lifetime diagnosis of thrombosis of the right branch of the portal vein. Classification of blood circulation insufficiency, developed by Mykola Dmytrovych and V.Kh.Vasylenko, that was approved by the 12th Congress of therapeutists in 1935, became significant event in cardiology.

It is natural that Srtazhesko decided not only the problems of cardiology. The methods of physical research of the organs of abdominal cavity developed and put into practice by V.P.Obraztsov and M.D.Strazhesko is known all over the world; he was also engaged in the problems of hematology, allergy, gerontology, tuberculosis, etc.

After entering the international scene M.D.Strazhesko`s authority incessantly increased. In 1910 he was elected Professor of the Department of Pathology and Therapy of Women's Medical Cources, in 1917 he headed the Department of Propedeutic Therapy and then the Department of Faculty Therapy of Kyiv Medical Institute.

Academician O.O.Bogomolets who was related with Strazhesko by the many-years creative concord noticed that Strazhesko had created a clinical school of pathophysiological trend which was recognized by not only home medicine but also abroad.

Besides official reports and publications, the school was created in the process of clinical lectures, scientific researches in the process of patients examination. Clinical rounds of M.D.Strazhesko were always the event for the staff and a holiday for patients. That was the school of clinical thinking.

Philosophic conception of M.D.Strazhesko is stated in one of his last publications "From the Dusk to Light" (1950) where he reviewed the creative path of his school. He showed that the crisis of visceral medicine of that time was connected with obsolete morphological ideas of R.Virchow`s cellular pathology and old microbiology which played a progressive role at their time.

In Strazhesko`s opinion new complex methods of clinics unification with the experiment were necessary to find a way out of the crisis. Strazhesko kept to such progressive pathophysiological trend during all his scientific-practical activity and so taught his pupils.

So, it is no coincidence that O.O.Bogomolets invited M.Strazhesko to head a clinical department of just organized Institute of Physiology of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in 1931. But the most important period in activity M.D.Strazhesko's in the development of the Kyiv therapeutic school is connected with Ukrainian Scientific-Research Institute of Clinical Medicine.

The achievements of21 Ukrainian therapeutists as well as the needs of practical health protection required creation of a specialized scientific centre of clinical-therapeutic profile in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Scientific-Research Institute of Clinical Medicine, founded on the initiative of M.D.Strazhesko in March 1936, became such a centre. This multipurpose scientific establishment was a precursor of the contemporary Scientific Research Centre of Cardiology, that is named after its founder.

Creation of the Institute became a logical continuation, an important stage in the development of the Kyiv school of therapeutists, M.D.Strazhesko was appointed the first director of the Institute.

Strazhesko`s activities were not bounded by the limits of the Institute and Departments. Together with his pupils Strazhesko carried out the work directed to raising the level of the therapeutic aid at the regional level as well. For this purpose an agreement was made in 1940 between the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Clinical Medicine, the department of Faculty Therapy of the First Kyiv Medical Institute and Kyiv and Chernigiv Regional Department of Health Protection.

That was the agreement about the collaboration (patronage), according to which the workers of the Institute and the Department had to go to the districts of these regions for consultations on the basis of the city and country hospitals. Despite of being very much busy, M.D.Strazhesko often joined the trips of his colleagues.

The Institute activity was created by the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Strazhesko with a group of his pupils was evacuated to the city of Ufa, where he headed the Department of Therapy of the Bashkirian Medical Institute. At the time Strazhesko and his assistants successfully solved the problems of the wound sepsis. On the initiative of Mykola Dmytrovych such outstranding scientists as O.O.Bogomolets, M.N.Burdenko, et al., were attracted to this problem.

After Kyiv liberation for the fascist occupants Strazhesko came home and was absorbed in the work of the Institute of Clinical Medicine. According to the program developed by the Academician, reumatology, blood circulation insufficiency, hypertonic disease, functional diagnosis, treatment of surgical diseases of viscera, pregnance pathology under the internal diseases became the principal trends of the Institute activity.

With development of cardiology and growth of this problem significance in Ukraine the Institute, correspondingly, changed its scientific trend and in August 1977 it was re-organized into the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Cardiology. Cardiologycal Centre which performed scientific and organizational-methodical management of cardiological service in Ukraine was created on the basis of the Institute.

The Institute continues developing traditions of M.D.Strazhesko`s school and the Institute workers have met its 60th anniversary with readiness to fulfill the set tasks in the improvement and development of cardiological aid to the population of Ukraine.

Mykola Dmytrovych was a well-educated man and did not approve professional narrow-mindedness. He knew well literature, classical music and arts; he was familiar with most outstanding figures of the national culture. Strazhesko was on friendly terms with Mykhailo Kotsyubynsky, a well-known Ukrainian writer, Maxim Rylsky, a poet; people`s artists Maria Zankovetska and Terentiy Yura, poet Pavlo Tychyna, leading actors of the Moscow Art Academic Theater (MHAT) and others were his friends and patients.

The pictures by Repin, Surikov, Polenov, Aivazovsky were in his home study. He was familiar with artist Viktor Vasnetsov who took part in painting St.Volodymyr`s Cathedral and with landscape painter Mykola Dubovsky.

M.D.Strazhesko set a brilliant example of efficiency and punctuality and trained his pupils in the same way. he had no respect to immodesty both in life and science.

Mykola Dmytrovych stated that for a true scientist `there is no more happiness than to be devoted to service of intellect and virtue`. The whole his life was a bright example of service to people.

The activity of M.D.Strazhesko was highly recognized by the State. From the service record of 1912 it becomes known that court councellor, doctor of medicine Mykola Dmytrovych Strazhesko was the bearer of the orders of St. Anna of the 3rd stage, St. Stanislav of the 2nd and 3rd stages and a bronze medal in memory of the 300th anniversary of Romanov`s family.

In Soviet times he was elected Academician of three academies (Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union, Academy of Medical of the USSR), he was given a title of a Hero of Socialist Labour, decorated with the orders and medals.

Strazhesko always was and remains the national pride of Ukraine*. Hundreds of young specialists who reinforce medical potential of our country are brought up on the example of his activities, on traditions of his school.
The Ukrainian Historical and Medical Journal AGAPIT
National Museum of Medicine of Ukraine
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