Everyday life and work of Polish doctors of the interwar period : according to the diaries


The purpose of the article is to reveal the image and everyday practice of doctors of state medical institutions in interwar Poland through diaries written by them. Research methods: historical-genetic, historical-comparative, descriptive, historical-typological. The main results: the article highlights the views of Sickness Funds patients on everyday life, profession and its importance. The life paths of doctors, their motives for work, survival strategies in the province and in the capital are clarified. The author’s focus is on everyday professional life, relationships with patients, which generally depicts the status of doctors in the Second Polish Republic. The content of Polish doctors’ activities, their efforts to improve health of population are revealed. Much attention is paid to the analysis of the diaries and the nature of problems and challenges faced by doctors of Sickness Funds. Working conditions of Polish doctors in the interwar period were not easy and the main reason of this was the economic crisis of the 30’s of the 20th century. First of all, the lack of material support, low level of consciousness of the population, patients’ distrust and contempt of patients for doctors, the activities of healers and quacks were also noticeable. At the same time, insufficient salary and limited opportunities often forced doctors to buy the necessary things at their own expense. The psychological atmosphere of the doctor’s work was not easy either and it was often manifested in abusive or dishonest attitude of patients, daily risks, provocations from the local population or their stereotypes about treatment. Constant fatigue, stress and exhaustion accompanied most doctors during this period. The diaries represent a social portrait of a doctor of the interwar period, a new generation of young people, whose professional activity coincided with the years of the independent Polish state, however, it was limited primarily by the challenges of the economic crisis. At the same time, the idea of competition was aimed at PR, advertising and promotion of the Social Insurance Administration of Poland. The main goal was to strengthen the confidence of Poles in the main state institution of social security and encourage the population to pay insurance premiums. The life destinies of the contest participants are also traced. As it turned out, all the doctors whose diaries were published in 1939 were killed during the war. Practical significance: the obtained results can be used in preparation of monographic studies, generalizations, textbooks and manuals on the history of Poland, socio-cultural history of Central and Eastern Europe, biographies. Scientific novelty: for the first time the analysis of diaries and memoirs of Polish doctors are performed, their views and work are studied; attitude to the chosen profession, an attempt to trace the strategies of popularization of the doctor’s profession in interwar Poland are described. Article type: research.

Author Biography

Anna Kotichenko, The Bohdan Khmelnytsky National University of Cherkasy

Ph. D. student in History at the Department of Archeology and Special Branches of Historical Science, Bohdan Khmelnytsky National University of Cherkasy, graduate student at University of Warsaw


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How to Cite
KOTICHENKO, Anna. Everyday life and work of Polish doctors of the interwar period : according to the diaries. Universum Historiae et Archeologiae = The Universe of History and Archeology = Універсум історії та археології ISSN 2664-9950 (Print) ISSN 2707-6385 (Online), [S.l.], v. 4, n. 1, p. 80–88, dec. 2021. ISSN 2707-6385. Available at: <http://uha.dp.ua/index.php/UHA/article/view/120>. Date accessed: 05 june 2023. doi: https://doi.org/10.15421/26210411.
World History