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10 - 13 May 2022
News Overview 1/30/18
History of O&P

History of O&P

Orthopaedic technology in Germany after 1945 – a 60-year-retrospective of orthopaedic craft and guild history

After the German surrender, the Allied Control Authority, set up by the victorious powers, dissolved all state organisations and associations – including the Reich Guild Association for Surgical Truss-Makers and Orthopaedic Technicians (Reichsfachverband der Orthopädiemechaniker und Bandagisten), which had been in existence since 1923. A Germany that was now massively destroyed and divided into occupied zones needed a new beginning on all levels of its political and social structure. On 28 April, while fighting still continued between the German Forces and the Red Army, Russian Colonel-General Berzarin was appointed City Commandant of Berlin. On his orders, all public treatment and care centres, such as hospitals and sanatoria were to start work again immediately.

New start for orthopaedic technology

In the summer of 1945, it fell to Cologne-born Hugo Storz to relaunch a Working Group for the orthopaedic and surgical truss-making trades (Arbeitsgemeinschaft des Orthopädie-Chirurgie und Bandagisten-Handwerks). Both the existing and newly founded orthopaedic workshops tried to remedy the lack of materials in a huge variety of different ways. So, for example, they got hold of aluminium sheet from the remaining stores in military manufacturing plants and materials for trusses were supplied by the patients.

A time of inventiveness

Creative ideas were what was needed to produce the requisite treatment materials in these conditions. And there are, now, only a few hand-made knee components that bear witness to this period of inventiveness. The Habermann family, in Munich, for example, made a knee component with a control mechanism made from standard 15mm chipboard. The Krauth family in Hamburg-Wandsbek used beech and oak to produce a physiological joint structure. So, there are a number of individual, specific objects relating to prosthetic treatments in the ‘History of O&P’ that demonstrate the technical developments over the past 60 years. From seating orthoses to production-line prostheses, from forged splints to lightweight construction techniques – the portfolio of products is wide and varied.

Experience the trades of yesteryear

A look at the phases of development of our time shows which stimuli came from the skilled trades and how many masterly achievements were created, whilst their makers remain mostly unknown.

The ‘History of O&P’ is being organised by Klaus Dittmer, who also exhibits in, amongst other places, the German Museum (Deutsches Museum) in Munich and in the German Museum of Hygiene (Hygiene-Museum) in Dresden. At OTWorld in 2014, he received the Heine-Hessing Medal from the German Association of Orthopaedic Technology for his commitment to the profession. The orthopaedic aids and documents of former times will be displayed on all four days of the event, in Exhibition Hall 3.