Culture-forming activities of the Cracow Medical Society.

Igor Gościński1, Adam Wiernikowski1, Jarosław Zawiliński1


The Cracow Medical Society (pl. Towarzystwo Lekarskie Krakowskie, TLK), which dates back to 1866, has since 1950, as the branch of the Polish Medical Society, retained full autonomy. It fulfils its statutory tasks, the most important of which are the integration of doctors divided into a number of specialties and who are members of various specialist medical societies: basic sciences, medical diagnostics, medicine, deontology, ethics, history of medicine and culture. It carries out these tasks by organizing and co-organizing conferences, symposia, scientific and training meetings, by taking the floor in deontological and ethical matters, presenting doctors' cultural and artistic achievements, honouring diplomas and medals, maintaining the memory of outstanding doctors, especially those associated with the Jagiellonian University and Cracow, and distinguished for Poland.

Cultural activities

In 1991, the Society regained the Physicians House, which was taken over by the Medical Academy of Nicolaus Copernicus, created in place of the Faculty of Medicine of the Jagiellonian University in 1950 - it was used by it and partly devastated (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. TLK House on Radziwiłłowska 4 street in Cracow (photo by A. Wiernikowski).
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Thanks to the efforts of the rectors (years in term in parentheses): Tadeusz Popiela (1972-81), Ryszard Gryglewski (1981-84), Tadeusz Cichocki (1987-90) and Andrzej Szczeklik (1990-93) the building was restored to its original state. These rectors have been awarded with honorary membership of the Society.

It should be added, that the Cracow Medical Society in 1972 financed the reconstruction of the stained glass window of Stanisław Wyspiański, "Apollo tethered" (Fig. 2), and carried out renovations and constant maintenance of the building with own funds and with the support of the Social Committee for the Restoration of Historical Monuments in Cracow.

Figure 2. A fragment of the staircase of the Medical House with stained glass window by Stanisław Wyspiański "Apollo tethered" (photo by A. Wiernikowski).
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The building is a cultural monument thanks to the interiors designed by the artist Stanisław Wyspiański (the so-called Malinowa, now called the Stanisław Wyspiański Hall and the library), a staircase, stained glass and furniture. The Society cooperates in its tourist promotion with the Marshal's Office of Lesser Poland and the STU Theatre (Fig. 3). The ceremonial meetings were devoted to Wyspiański in 1997 on the 90th anniversary of his death, in 1999 on the 130th anniversary of his birth, and in 2017 on the 110th anniversary of his death.

Figure 3. "Wyspiański in Cracow" tourist brochure.
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After regaining its headquarters, the Society implemented the present directions of activity by organizing traditional weekly "Wednesday" meetings at its own premises: about 32-34 per year, in addition to symposia, conferences, exhibitions, theatre performances, mini concerts and recitals, cooperating with specialist medical societies and cultural organizations. Here we should mention cooperation with the Union of Polish Doctor Writers, with its president ̶ Prof. Waldemar Hładki, who has presented many times as a poet, a bard who sang and played several instruments, as well as the organizer, screenwriter and director of the poetic and musical performance "We Treat with the Word" - a presentation of the poetic work of doctor writers on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Cracow Medical Society.

It should be emphasized that all meetings are open to the public and apart from doctors, may be attended by people interested in a given topic. Since 2003, the chairman of the Society has been Prof. Igor Gościński, who organizes and personally chairs meetings with the team. 12 to 17 meetings a year are devoted to cultural issues. Particularly spectacular are the annual, organized since 1960, solemn meetings at the Collegium Novum Hall of the Jagiellonian University on the occasion of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and the International Holocaust Day, always with the participation of the Rector of the Jagiellonian University, representatives of the Metropolitan Curia, diplomats and very numerous participants. During the last meetings in 2013, 2017, 2018, 2020 - there were live broadcasts, via satellite, of the speech by directors of the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles. In organizing these meetings, TLK cooperates with the authorities of the Jagiellonian University, in particular the Chair of Medical History, the Museum of the Medical Faculty, the Holocaust Research Centre and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. In 2006, the 140th Anniversary of the TLK and the 100th Anniversary of the Medical House were celebrated. In 2011, 145 years were celebrated, and in 2016 - 150 years of the Society's founding. On this occasion, the "Jubilee Book" [1], "Jubilee of the 150th Anniversary (1866-2016)" [2] and "Celebrations of the Jubilee of the 150th Anniversary (1866-2016) of the Cracow Medical Society" [3], with lists of meetings and achievements, including a bibliography of publications and full factual documentation of the Society's activities, were published.

The Society maintains the memory of outstanding and distinguished doctors as well as other people distinguished for Polish medicine. Special meetings and/or publications were devoted to professors such as: Julian Aleksandrowicz (1908-1988), Marian Barczyński (1930-2006), Józef Bogusz (1904-1993), Jan Donat Bromowicz (1917-1983), Eugeniusz Brzezicki (1890-1974), Zbigniew Chłap (born 1927), Józef Dietl (1804-1878), Zbigniew Garnuszewski (1917-1998), Marian Gieszczykiewicz (1889-1942), Stanisław Grochmal (1911-1995), priest Michał Heller, Stanisław Hornung (1902-1967), Stanisława Jancyszyn-Spettowa (1902-1994), Kazimierz Janicki (1931-2001), Henryk Jordan (1842-1907), Józef Kałuża (1929-2003), Jerzy Kaulbersz (1891-1988), Antoni Kępiński (1918-1972), Antoni Józef Kocemba (1930-2008), Adam Kunicki (1903-1989), Jan Karol Kostrzewski (1915-2005), Józef Karol Kostrzewski (1883-1959), Józef Kuśmiderski (1928-1998), Stanisław Maziarski (1873-1956), Kornel Michejda (1887-1960), Jan Mikulicz-Radecki (1850-1905), Jan Miodoński (1902-1963), Gabriel Narutowicz (1865-1922), Julian Ignacy Nowak (1865-1946), Józef Oetinger (1818-1895), Jan Oszacki (1915-1982), Jan Władysław Piltz (1870-1930), Maciej Wit Rzepecki (1909-1989), Ludwik Sippel (1904-1981), Janina Sokołowska Pituchowa (1915-2011), Marek Hieronim Sych (1923-1997), Leon Tochowicz (1897-1965); docents Jan Wojciech Głowacki (1929-2009), Jerzy Jedliński (1925-2004), Oskar Liszka (1915-1966) and Jadwiga Miklaszewska (1912-1991) and doctors Teodor Birula-Białynicki (1886-1956), Marian Czepko (1922-2006), Józef Garbień (1896-1954), Jerzy Jamski (1943-2007), Jerzy Mroczka (1934-2004), Jan Zygmunt Robl (1886-1962), Zbigniew Wincentowicz (1926-2008) and Joanna Horzelowa née Wurfel (1925-2007) and friar-physician Ludwik Perzyna (1742-1800).

Honouring the merits of Prof. Jan Piltz, creator of the Cracow Neurological and Psychiatric Clinic, builder of the Clinic's facilities and author of the four-language album "Neurological and Psychiatric Clinic of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. Cracow 1929 ”, a reprint with an introduction by Igor Gościński describing the professor operating in Poland and Switzerland (4). TLK also struck a medal, funded by Prof. Ryszard Chrzanowski, designed by Prof. Karol Badyna (Fig. 4).

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Figure 4. Medal of Jan W. Piltz designed by Prof. Karol Badyna.
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We should also mention the living, outstanding honorary members of the Cracow Medical Society: Henryk Gaertner [85-, 90-, 95th birthday (Fig. 5)], Zdzisław Gajda (85 years-old), Maria Rybakowa (90 years-old), Igor Gościński (85 years-old), Zbigniew Chłap (90 years-old), to whom jubilee meetings were devoted and honoured with diplomas and medals. Also, the Society's medals, apart from the mentioned Jan Piltz, resemble well-deserved profiles of doctors, social activists and patriots: Dr Alexander Kremer, (1813-1880), Prof. Julian Nowak (1865-1940), Prof. Józef Bogusz (1904-1993), Prof. Marek Hieronim Sych (1923-1997) and Prof. Stanisław Grochmal (1911-1995).

Figure 5. Chronicle of the 90th Anniversary of Professor Henryk Gaertner.
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TLK promotes the work of members: literary, artistic, as well as publications devoted to great Poles and history. For example: poetry, prose and painting of Janina Bergander, poetry of Marcin Gołąb, photography and poetry of Wojciech Traczewski (1947-2005), graphic exhibition - portraits of famous doctors by Tomasz Wiatr (Fig. 7), graphics and poetry of Ryszard Żaba, poetry of Stanisław Wilkoń (1923-2012), Aniela Agata's book "MS - Taste of Love", Zdzisław Gajda "On Kopernika Street in particular, and about almost everything in general" and "Cracow Historical Guide for Medics, or Medical Cracow in Historical Aspects" and under his editorship "Anthology of Poetry on Copernicus Street in Cracow," Joanna Torowska "Park. dr Henryk Jordan ", Eugeniusz Czubak "In pursuit of destiny. From Cracow to Bytom. Memories of a doctor ", Marianna Florkowska "The joy of giving. Hanna Chrzanowska in Memoirs, Letters, Anecdotes", Henryk Gaertner's "Albert Schweizer - Life, Thoughts and Work ", poetry of Waldemar Hładki "On the Road", Krzysztof Kmieć "Physicians Ex Librae", Zdzisław Marek "Memoirs of a forensic doctor" and "Medical error", Jadwiga Miklaszewska "Gropingly. (Notes from the daughter of Aesculapius)", Paweł Mikułowski "Mortals - Immortals. Diseases and Graves of Great Composers", Barbara Morawska-Nowak "On Dr. Danuta Sadkowska", Krystyna Rożnowska "Heal the World. On Julian Aleksandrowicz", Zdzisław Jan Ryn "Doctor on Rapa Nui", Zdzisław J. Ryn and Stanisław Kłodziński "Rhythm of Death", poetry of Anna Pituch-Noworolska, Leon Żuławski "The Limestone Oblivion or the Galician Massacre in 1846 by poem and other works". The interests and passions of doctors: travel, photography and history were also presented. These were presented by, among others: Andrzej Bielecki and Jerzy Jurkiewicz from Warsaw, Ryszard Chrzanowski and Ryszard Karbowski (1925-2012) from Switzerland, Andrzej Urbanik, Zdzisław Gajda, Zdzisław J. Ryn, Aleksander B. Skotnicki from Cracow, A series of meetings titled "Blessed/Saint John Paul II and Cracow's doctors" is devoted to various moral aspects of the teaching and activities of the Pope, who by his behaviour and teaching influenced the attitudes of doctors and the sick. Also, the annual symposia 'Pain and Suffering', which TLK is a co-organizer, are devoted to various aspects of somatic and spiritual pain - suffering that affects people in different life situations.

The history of NSZZ "Solidarność" Health Service in Cracow [5], the current state and history of solidary assistance of World Physicians (Medecins du Monde) during the martial law in Poland were presented with the participation of former activists, all associated with domestic and foreign activities of Prof. Zbigniew Chłap - president of the Association "Lekarze Nadziei".

Special meetings were devoted to the 400th Anniversary of the service of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God (Bonifratri) Hospital in Cracow, the 90th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hospital Józef Babiński in Cracow and the Hospital of the Jewish Community in Cracow, and the conference on the occasion of the 650th Anniversary of the Jagiellonian University. Members of the TLK Management Board delivered lectures during: historical sessions organized by the Częstochowa Medical Society, meetings of the Polish Medical Society branch in Śrem and the First Congress of Polish Scientific Societies in Warsaw, as well as in the Czech Republic (Třinec, Karviná) and Ukraine (Lviv).

The active TLK branch in Proszowice, led by Dr Wojciech Skucha, twice organized trips to the abbey in Hebdów and to the Museum of St. Albert in Igołomia. Numerous meetings were graced with solo performances by artists, mini concerts and recitals. The Latin American Ensemble Kantu, the Lviv cabaret Tyligentne Batiary and Teatr Stygmator also performed.

Figure 6. Cracoviae Merenti medal.
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Figure 7. Exhibition of drawings by Dr Tomasz Wiatr.
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All these TLK activities were possible thanks to extensive cooperation with the authorities of the Jagiellonian University and other Cracow universities, the Physicians Chamber in Cracow, and many specialist medical societies and organizations. As presented, this activity reveals the wide non-medical activity of doctors, shows their different image and promotes the cultural activity of medics among the public. In recognition of this and other social activities the bronze "Medal Cracoviae Merenti", was presented to the Cracow Medical Society on June 21, 2017 during the 76th Solemn Session of the Capital Council of the Royal City of Cracow. This highest decoration medal was established in 1998 and the exclusive number awarded to TLK is 30 (Fig. 6). The laudation was given by Prof. Jacek Majchrowski - the President of the City of Cracow, who said, among others "The Cracow Medical Society has permanently entered the history of Poland - Polish medicine - and the history of Cracow. ... In fact, the phenomenon of the Society is that it has never been a purely professional organization. It's character - from the very beginning - was shaped by art lovers, experts on history, outstanding humanists and social activists, people of great passion. Doctor Henryk Jordan organized the first educational park for children on our continent, at the request of Alfred Obaliński, the first ambulance station in Poland was opened, professor Maria Rybakowa contributed, among others, to developing contacts with Polish doctors in the east, Professor Zdzisław Jan Ryn became famous as a diplomat, an excellent Andes researcher and propagator of the work of Ignacy Domeyko. Prof. Igor Gościński (current head of the Society) has contributed greatly to Polish culture and strengthening the remembrance of the times of the occupation, and only a dozen or so months ago Prof. Aleksander Skotnicki received the prestigious Musiał award for social activity in the spirit of Christian-Jewish dialogue" [7].

The contents of the article were also presented during the II Congress of Scientific Societies in Poznań, 15.09.2018.


[1] Gościński I, Skotnicki AB. Towarzystwo Lekarskie Krakowskie. Księga Jubileuszowa, Kraków 2006.
[2] Wiernikowski A. TLK. Jubileusz 150-lecia (1866-2016), Kraków 2016.
[3] Gościński I, Wiernikowski A, Zawiliński J. Obchody Jubileuszu 150-lecia Towarzystwa Lekarskiego Krakowskiego (1866-2016). TLK, Kraków 2017.
[4] Gościński I, Chrzanowski R, Wiernikowski A, Zawiliński J. Dr Jan Władysław Piltz (1879-1930). Twórca Kliniki Neurologiczno-Psychiatrycznej Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego w Krakowie w 100-lecie powstania. TLK, Kraków 2015.
[5] Gościński I, Wiernikowski A, Jochymek-Krause B. Kronika Jubileuszu 90-lecia Profesora Henryka Gaertnera. TLK, Kraków 2013.
[6] NSZZ ”Solidarność” Krakowskiej Służby Zdrowia w latach 1980-1989. Kraków, 13 grudnia 2006.
[7] Wiernikowski A. Brązowy Medal Cracoviae Merenti dla Towarzystwa Lekarskiego Krakowskiego. Alma Mater 2017; 196:74-75.

Conflict of interest: none declared.

Authors’ affiliations:
1 Cracow Medical Society – Towarzystwo Lekarskie Krakowskie, Cracow, Poland.

Corresponding author:
Dr Adam Wiernikowski
Sekretarz Towarzystwa Lekarskiego Krakowskiego
ul. Radziwiłłowska 4
31-026 Cracow, Poland
e-mail: adamwier@mp.pl

To cite this article: Gościński I, Wiernikowski A, Zawiliński J. Culture-forming activities of the Cracow Medical Society. World J Med Images Videos Cases 2020; 6:e25-33.

Submitted for publication: 15 April 2020
Accepted for publication: 15 June 2020
Published on: 3 July 2020

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