Eduard Konrad Zirm
Painting, Family property
Konrad Zirm was born in Vienna on March 18, 1863. Because of his
father’s early death, his mother, Luise, was the steady,
caring and sacrificing constant in his early years. She hid the
difficulties from her children, Konrad and Adele, as best she
could. Nevertheless, as soon as Eduard was old enough, he supported
his mother and sister financially to the best of his abilities.
It was to become one of his great pleasures to be able to care
for his mother and sister.
attended the Schottengymnasiums,
which was also attended by Nobel prize winner Prof. Dr. Konrad
Lorenz. After graduation, his career to surgery was not immediately
preordained. The young man was more interested in becoming a sculptor
or a writer.
But then he chose medicine after all and he studied at the Medical
School of the University of Vienna. For two years he worked as
a demonstrator at the Anatomical Institute. This gave him the
knowledge of anatomy and a broad understanding. The young doctor
was attracted to surgery, but he did not know exactly where he
wanted to go.
He met his friend, Haidenthaller in the courtyard of the General
Hospital who mentioned that he wanted to go to the Eye Clinic
of Prof. Stellwag as an assistant doctor. But the friend never
followed through, as Dr. Eduard Konrad Zirm wrote in his memoirs:
Eduard Konrad Zirm wrote in his memoirs:
His very beloved mother
was always a person of quick decision, and I still am today. So
the next day I went to the Eye Clinic and stayed there”
his graduation from medical school he became an eye doctor at
the Second Eye Clinic in Vienna, as the first assistant to Prof.
Stellwag. His teacher, Prof. Theodor Billroth was one of his greatest
supporters. Dr. Zirm wrote:
desire and aspiration was to follow surgery. Billroth was my role
Eye Clinic in Vienna. Dr. Zirm is in the first row, third from
the right. -- Family photograph.
1892, the not yet 30year old was offered a position in Olomouc,
in Moravia. As usual in his life, he did not hesitate and went
to the Province, even though he was tempted by the idea of emigration
to the United States, like some of his colleagues.
He found that the situation and preliminary conditions were bad,
as one can imagine. No one dreamed that in only a few years he
would bring about a revolutionary turn of events at this place.
It had been twenty years since the School of Surgery had closed
its doors in this city on the Morava River. It used to be part
of the Emperor Franz University. The hospital was still under
the residence of the canon, where later the Elisabethinum was
to be built. Dr. Emilian Mick, the then Chief of the Internal
Medicine Department recognized the striving of the young colleague
and put it through that already in 1894 all ophthalmology cases
were transferred to him.
But Dr. Eduard Konrad Zirm found that the dark and unsanitary
rooms were not the proper place to save patients’ eyesight.
He found a better place in the Poorhouse of Olomouc. As a consequence
of his encouraging results it was decided to include his eye clinic
in the plans for the new District hospital on the Tafelberg.
On July 4 Eduard Konrad Zirm did not celebrate American independence,
but the decision by the Moravian government to build his eye clinic
with 120 beds.
The number of beds was soon increased to 156 and for many years
Olomouc was the most modern eye clinic in the German speaking
part of Europe.
Viennese doctor was very popular at that time, since he provided
free treatment for patients with little or no money. At that time
health insurance had not yet been established.
his years in Olomouc, between 1894 and 1928, Dr. Zirm performed
7866 eye cataract surgeries. He had only a small staff at his
disposal for this. He also performed many corneal transplants
(Keratoplastic) and further developed his methodology. Keratoplastic
means corneal transplant, where the no longer transparent cornea
is made transparent.
a balance to his stressful surgery, which he performed ambidextrously
with both hands, depending on the position of the patient, he
relaxed by gardening and beekeeping.
family villa, designed by the gifted Doctor in Olomouc
Gardener Dr. Zirm with his son Eduard, daughter in law Rosemarie
and rich harvest.
hobbies of the talented physician were playing the violin for
his own enjoyment or accompanied with his wife and children or
writing poetry, stories or his book.
he completed all his scientific and clinical research he was forced
to retire after 34 years of work. At that time Moravia had become
a part of Czechoslovakia.
discoverer died on March 5, 1944 in Olomouc. After the war his
remains were transferred to Graz, Austria, where his two sons,
Dr. Dr. Konrad Zirm and Dr. Eduard Zirm lived. He was unable to
remain in the crypt he had built as his last resting place for
his ashes in his beloved garden. Instead he rests next to his
beloved wife Irene at the cemetery of St. Peter.
the pioneer work of many doctors is not recognized until decades
later. Such was also the case for the surgical method of Dr. Zirm.
It was applied and further developed abroad. After the October
revolution in Russia, there was a need to catch up in ophthalmology.
Vladimir Petrovitvh Filatow performed many corneal transplants
even while Dr. Zirm was still alive.
his many descendants one son and four grandchildren have become
His oldest son, Dr. Dr. Konrad Zirm, MD.
grandson, Univ.-Prof. Dr.
Mathias Zirm follows in his grandfather’s footsteps
and enriches the world of medicine through his outstanding work.
In November 2001 he received in the Oratorium of the Austrian
National Library the Medal of Honor for Science and Art of the
Austrian Albert Schweitzer Society.
This well known institution honored the eye surgeon for his life’s
work, which is rounded out through his social effort – ORBIS-Project,
in which he conducted countless free training classes and provided
support in China.More can be found at www.zirm.net
grandson, Prim. Dr. Bernd Zirm leads the Provincial
Hospital in Bad Radkersburg.
grandson Martin Terplan, MD
grandson Peter Terplan, MD
Urenkel Mischka Terplan, MD
Some of the descendants of Dr. Zirm, Graz, fall
1949. Family photograph.
Family tomb in Graz