GEORGI ATANASOVICH - MEDICAL PROFESSOR IN ROMANIA
We have the privilage to present the first university lecturer for Bulgaria. Georgi Atanasovich is born in the town of Svishtov, at the river Danube - 10 March 1821. His primary education Georgi received in town, with the distinguished revivalist and pedagogue Emanuil Vaskidovich. The latter co-edited, with Neophyte Boswelli, six volumes of "The Slavbulgarian syllabus for children" which was published under the auspice of serbian prince Mikhail "Milosh" Obrenovich in 1835. Further, Georgi Atanasovich continued his education in the school of Teophil Cairo - at Andros Island from 1836 to 1843. The next five years are spent in Paris, studying medicine and graduating in year 1848 with a doctorate, namely: "De l'hemoragie uterine dependant du decollement du placenta, consideree dans les derniers temps de la grossesse et pendant le travail de l'accduchement".
Dr. Georgi Atanasovich started a job as a toxicologist in Bucarest - year 1849. During the Crimean War /1853-56/, he excells as a physician in the Russian Army at the battlefields of Romania. Roughly from that time begin, and flow parallel to his medical carrier, another occupation of his and which make him even more well-known - Dr. Atanasovich become member of the Benevolent Society /N.B., founded in 1854 as a Central Bulgarian Trusteeship/. While there are many pages written in bulgarian history regarding the Benevolent Society, we shall give a slight touch by what is written in "Edited by the Bulgarian Academy of Science. Information Bulgaria. Sofia-Oxford, 1985, p. 189":
"... Political liberation of Bulgaria was set as the key goal of the struggle, which, spread throughout the Bulgarian lands and involved the emigration in Romania, Russia, Serbia and the Bulgarian colony in Cinstantinople. Various social and political forces were active in the liberation movement, and their views are recorded in the periodicals and in a number of programme documents of the Revival Period. The Russophiles, among the "haute bourgeoisie" in Romania, Russia, Constantinople and at home were represented by the Benevolent Society and by the Bulgarian Trusteeship in Odessa. These placed their hopes for Bulgarian liberation chiefly in Russia's intervention, either diplomatic or military, once the international situation was right. Heterogeneous in social composition and inconsistent in its political outlook, they objected on principle to all revolutionary methods ..."
At this point, we are not in a position to further elaborate on Dr. Atanasovich's activities as a member of the Benevolent Society. Enough is to say, that, his signature is evident on many of the official documents of the society - else, this is a job to be done by the archivists. Continuing with his political agenda, we shall give an extract from the memmoirs of his relative Petar Neykov, distinguished bulgarian diplomat from the first half of the 20th century. The latter narrates in his book "Yesterday and the day before yesterday ...", published in Sofia - 1959, p.35:
"... My uncle exceled in his efforts, together with other emminent bulgarians in Romania, to establish a cultural center with educational purposes. This organization would later become known as Bulgarian Literary Association ..."
In reality, the long time desired dream to have their own cultural institution was realized on 29 September 1869, when, a statute of the association is voted in Braila. Dr. Atanasovich was an active member of the founding fathers of the association, although, he is not directly elected as a member of the syndic. Neverthless, we find his name in the efforts to make scientific contacts of the newly found asociation with another "Slavic Academies", i.e., the so called "Matitzas" of Serbia, Slovenia, Chroatia, Czekia, etc. It was a time of everlasting enthusiasm, which, finaly led to the accreditation of the Bulgarian Academy of Science in 1911 - an institution with international recognition.
Let us return to the medical activity of Dr. Georgi Atanasovich. It is amazing, how, versatile is his work in the medical field - considering the fact that he was overburdened with political engagements, as well. From 1856, he is appointed professor of pathology in the "Bucarest Medical School". From 1858, member of the Supreme Medical Council of Romania and until year 1879. From 1869, take the position of adjunct professor of obstetrics and gynecology - namely, without department or salary. There are a number of medical articles, which, Dr. Atanasovich published during his Romanian period, viz. "Forensic medical expertise", "Poisoning with arsenic", "On the organization of infant hospital", On the epidemics of dyphteria from 1872", etc and all of them written in Romanian. Naturally, when the Russian-Turk War from 1877-78 is waged, he is among those who join the chief command of the Danubian Army.
The liberation of the country find Dr. Atanasovich a man of high prestige. From July 1879 to November 1879, he is appointed Minister of Education in the government of premier Todor Burmov. Here is what we find written in the "Bulgarian Diary, vol. 1" by Konstantin Yiretchek, on page 22:
... I went in the Ministry of Education, all of it in a single room. There was a minister sitting at a table, much like a turkish pasha, and around him on two other chairs were the clerks. I understood that the minister is someone Dr. G. Atanasovich from Svishtov, formerly professor from the Medical Faculty in Bucarest; he was a middle-aged man with greyish hair, whiskers and moustache, with a small stature but with obviously important behavior and all the time looking sharp eyed. My first impression - this gentleman is not a nice guy. Latter, I understood that he was of pure character, true patriot, a man with a clasical school of education and who has left the sure thing in a medical practice with a carrier as a diplomat - something, which cost him not a few and the loss of his pension ..."
We shall try to give some final touches to the portrait of this great bulgarin. From 1883 to 1885 he was chairman of the Third Medical Council in Bulgaria. Introducing a project for a Sanitary Law - to be later voted in 1888. Adjunct /1881/ and full /1884/ member of the New Bulgarian Literary Society /BLS/. Rewarded medal "St. Alexander III" /1885. Owner of a rich personal library - donated to the BLS. The last years of his life, with ill health, he spent with his family in Bucarest. He dies on 26 February 1892. In memoriam.