A fascinating and unique World War I German Red Cross hospital train photograph album, with an accordion-folded sheet the length of 10 pages, containing the title page, 8-leaf colored blueprint of the layout of the train, and 1-page description of the layout, followed by 11 original photographs, 9 of which show interior views and furnishings of the train, including the hospital cars (Krankenwagen), a hospital car specifically for officers (Offiziers-Krankenwagen), a bandaging car (Verbandswagen), the kitchen (Küche), an administration and pharmacy car (Operations - u. Apothekenwagen), the nurses' dining room (Speisezimmer für Schwestern), a doctor's room (Arztzimmer), and two exterior views, one with the Lloyd factory in the background, and one with the Lloyd liner "Bremen". Some slight browning to mattes some wear along binding, images very fine. Small oblong 4to. Metal brad binding inside a floral cloth-covered album, "Bremer Lazarettzuge" impressed in gold to lower front right corner, appliqued felt Red Cross symbol to upper front left corner, some minor abrasions and edgewear. Bremen, 1915. The name of the original owner, Chief Medical Officer of Auxiliary Hospital Train 23, is written on the inside front cover and was scratched out.
The first hospital train was built during the Crimean War in the 1850s, but it was during World War I that the trains began to be used as mobile medical facilities along the Western Front and other theaters of the war, to treat patients on-board and help convey them to safety back home. They were expensive to outfit, and were financed almost exclusively through donations, including through the sale of postcards featuring images of the trains. This particular train had 38 cars, 26 of which were hospital cars with 10 beds each, making space for 260 patients. A 1916 article in The American Journal of Nursing titled "A German Hospital Train", written by a nurse on-board a train in Bremen, gives more information and context. "We have about 150 hospital trains which are approximately even in equipment and management. Possible changes and improvements are reserved to the physicians in charge and some are, perhaps, fitted out a little richer than the others in accordance with the taste of the donor. The administration is of two different kinds. Some of the trains are taken care of by the Red Cross and carry as attendants members of the association for volunteer nursing, although, of course, they are subject to military authority. Others are military hospital trains, the personnel of which, even the physicians, are at work as part of their military obligation. In these trains no female nurses are arranged for. Only at the special request of the donor, a merchant of Bremen, we had been allowed on our train. The trains of the Red Cross have, on the contrary, nearly always four female nurses. Our train consists of 38 carriages; 26 for wounded, 1 for bandaging, 1 for the apothecary and the administration, 1 for the kitchen, 2 for the supplies, a refrigerator car in the summer, 2 for hot water supply, and then the necessary carriages for the three physicians and the rest of the attendants, composed of 30 military nurses, 6 subaltern sanitary officers, 4 female nurses, and 1 inspector, who is the housewife of the train, and the personnel for the kitchen and for the running of the train....Beds, washing facilities, etc., are arranged just as on a boat, possibly because the North German Lloyd has outfitted the train." (The American Journal of Nursing, Vol. 16, No. 5, Feb. 1916, pp. 397-403) A remarkable and incredibly rare artifact from a vital point in human history.
Book ID: 49072