Dr. Eduard Konrad Zirm - 1863 bis 1944
A Ophtalmologist's journey

Dr. Eduard Konrad Zirm
Painting, Family property

Eduard 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.
He 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:


Luise Zirm
His very beloved mother


“I 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”

After 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:

“My desire and aspiration was to follow surgery. Billroth was my role model.

Second Eye Clinic in Vienna. Dr. Zirm is in the first row, third from the right. -- Family photograph.

In 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.

The 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.

During 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.

As 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.

The family villa, designed by the gifted Doctor in Olomouc
Family Foto

The Gardener Dr. Zirm with his son Eduard, daughter in law Rosemarie and rich harvest. Family Foto

Further 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.

Before 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.

The 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.

Often 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.

Among his many descendants one son and four grandchildren have become physicians:
His oldest son, Dr. Dr. Konrad Zirm, MD.

His 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

His grandson, Prim. Dr. Bernd Zirm leads the Provincial Hospital in Bad Radkersburg.

His grandson Martin Terplan, MD

His grandson Peter Terplan, MD

Sein Urenkel Mischka Terplan, MD

Some of the descendants of Dr. Zirm, Graz, fall 1949. Family photograph.

The Family tomb in Graz

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Wir danken dem »OBSERVER« - Österreichs vollständigstem Medienbeobachter für die Unterstützung