The massive size of the World War and making the necessary sacrifices needed for its operations meant that the state influenced and took control over the economy and society like never before. However there were unintended consequences in every war faring country. At places where the state organization wasn’t as successful or they were secondary regarding the war and did not get enough resources from the government, society had to take a more serious part. Although the most common example of the latter were social services, disability and orphanage issues, but still surprisingly or not, even in the key matters such as Health Care the state failed. In Russia, for example after the first year of the War, the profession had to reorganize medical attendance.
In the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy or even in Germany this wasn’t the case. Although the capacity of medical attendance was observable from the first moment, even if the enthusiasm towards the war partially covered it up with more or less success. Many private hospitals opened from private donations that showed real self-abnegation, even in the absurd cases like the hospitals of the Independence and Working Party. These cases were important though, because the state was unable to ensure enough manpower and financial help in such a short time, so part of the state’s tasks had to be taken over by social organisations, in spite of all the growing forceful state action. The hospital trains typically were such establishments – and not only in the Monarchy.
These moving hospitals helped to carry the injured soldiers from the front, with proper medical assistance on board. According to reports the well-equipped and comfortable trains didn’t ensure better circumstances than a field hospital, especially when the capacity of the staff was not enough to attend all the patients or they did not have enough medicine, bandage, painkillers. Naturally serious operations were improbable and the travel for patients in eight-bed ward coaches became unbearable if only just one of them fought with his pain. But of course, this was still more than nothing and could save many lives.
One of the first private concerns, were the Kasselik Foundation established by Jenő Kasselik, ex-first lieutenant. His father, Ferenc Kasselik, architect, died in 1884 and at that time he paid the most taxes as a civilian in Pest. He urged his son to leave the army. Jenő inherited huge fortune and made significant donations. One of these donations were 13 million (!) crowns, that he donated to his foundation for building apartment houses in 1910 in his last will. He wanted these building to be „asylum for literate people who lost everything out of their own fault.” This „class selfishness” was swept away by the war. On the hospital train all soldiers could seek asylum.
Created by: Gábor Egry
A Kasselik-alapítvány kórházvonata. = Pesti Napló, 1914. november 5.
A Függetlenségi Párt kórháza. = Pesti Napló, 1914. november
Kasselik Jenő emlékművének felavatása