Bust unveiled to pioneering Czech surgeon Eduard Albert who lent his name to one of Prague’s famous streets

Eduard Albert, photo: ČTK/Michaela Říhová

This week, Charles University unveiled a bust to one of the most accomplished Czech surgeons - Eduard Albert. Little known today outside his discipline, Albert’s name has nevertheless enshrined itself into Czech history through the various events that took place on Albertov, the street named after him. Today it houses several scientific departments that are helping in the fight against COVID-19.

Eduard Albert was born in the town of Žamberk in Eastern Bohemia in 1841. His passion was surgery and he would become one of the most internationally recognised surgeons of his time.

Albert spent most of his career in Austria, where he taught at the Medical University in Innsbruck and later served as the Chair of Surgery in Vienna, says Charles University Rector Tomáš Zima, who unveiled a bust to Eduard Albert this Tuesday on the 120th anniversary of the surgeon’s death.

Tomáš Zima  (right),  photo: ČTK/Michaela Říhová

“It was while he was [in Vienna] that he published a four volume textbook, which became the main monograph on surgery at the time. He is known for performing some pioneering surgeries during his time, such as nephrectomy - the removal of one of the kidneys.

“Professor Albert is also tightly connected to the Czech lands. For example, he supported the building of the National Theatre, or the publishing of František Palacký’s work on the history of the Czech nation. Albert was also involved in the publishing of an anthology of Czech poems in German, so he was a Renaissance man, who was involved in culture as well as political and social matters.”

While Rektor Zima says that Eduard Albert is still highly regarded in the medical community today, most Czechs today are more aware of “Albertov” street in Prague 2, which was named in honour of the surgeon in the early twentieth century.

The street was the starting point of the funeral procession for student Jan Opletal on November 15, 1939. Opletal was a student at the Faculty of Medicine, who had been shot by the German occupation forces while taking part in an earlier demonstration. Some 4,000 students are believed to have joined the procession. The event angered the Nazis who ordered the closure of Czech universities two days later.

The procession was recreated on November 17, 1989 by thousands of students and members of the wider public. It was the aftermath of this procession that led to the events on Národní třída that day which sparked the Velvet Revolution.

Tomáš Zima,  photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek

Today Albertov remains a centre of learning. The street houses several departments of Charles University and the Czech Technical University, including the First Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Science. Their staff and students are now actively taking part in the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus, says Rektor Tomáš Zima.

“Both schools have staff and students that are actively working in hospitals now. They also have teams which are involved in actively PCR testing for the coronavirus. Last week, these schools, together with our university, opened a sampling centre in Albertov for the public.”