Marcel Junod bigraphy, stories - Swiss physician

Marcel Junod : biography

May 14, 1904 - June 16, 1961
Marcel Junod Warrior without Weapons

Childhood and education

Marcel Junod as an intern in Mulhouse(© Benoit Junod, Switzerland)

Marcel Junod was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland as the fifth of seven children, to Richard Samuel Junod (1868–1919) and Jeanne Marguerite Bonnet (1866–1952). His father was a pastor for the Independent Protestant Church of Neuchâtel, first working in mining villages in Belgium and later in poor communities near Neuchâtel and La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland; the latter being where Junod spent most of his childhood. After the death of his father, his family returned to his mother's home of Geneva. A legal rule of the time allowed Junod and his two younger sisters to obtain Genevan citizenship. In order to earn a living, his mother and aunt opened a boarding house.

Junod completed his initial education in 1923 with a baccalaureate diploma from Geneva's Collège Calvin, the same school that Red Cross founder Henry Dunant had attended. As a student, he volunteered in charity work and directed the Relief Movement for Russian Children in Geneva. Due to generous financial support from his uncle Henri-Alexandre Junod he was able to follow his aspirations and study medicine in Geneva and Strasbourg, obtaining his MD in 1929. He opted for special training in the field of surgery and interned at hospitals in Geneva and Mulhouse, France (1931–1935). He completed his training in Mulhouse in 1935, and began work as the head of the Mulhouse hospital's surgical clinic.

His life after the Second World War

His deployment in Japan and other surrounding Asian countries lasted until April 1946 when he was able to return to Switzerland, having missed the birth of his son Benoit in October 1945. After he returned, he wrote the book Le Troisième Combattant, entitled in English, Warrior Without Weapons. It describes, in very personal language, his experiences during his various ICRC deployments. Other editions were published in German, in Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Japanese and Serbo-Croatian]. An Italian translation of the book appeared in 2006, nearly 60 years later. It has been reprinted several times by the International Committee of the Red Cross in English, French and Spanish. The book is sometimes called the "bedside volume of all young ICRC delegates."

Thus it is our task to form a third front above and cutting across the two belligerent fronts, a third front which is directed against neither of them, but which works for the benefit of both. The combatants of this third front are interested only in the suffering of the defenceless human being, irrespective of his nationality, his convictions or his past. They fight wherever they can against all inhumanity, against every degradation of the human personality, against all injustice directed against defenceless human beings. It is for these fighters that Dr. Junod has coined the expression 'the third combatant'.
(Dr. Marcel Junod: Warriors without Weapons. From the foreword by Max Huber, former ICRC President)

From January 1948 until April 1949, Junod was active as a representative of the UN children's help organization, UNICEF, in China, after being invited for that position by then UNICEF director Maurice Pate. However, due to an illness that made it difficult to stand for long periods of time, he had to cut off his deployment. He also had to turn down a mission for the World Health Organization (WHO) and was forced to give up his career as a surgeon. He decided to become a specialist in anesthesiology, which would allow him to work sitting down. The need for additional training and education led him to Paris and London, and in 1951 he returned to Geneva and opened a new practice. For the first time since his time at the hospital in Mulhouse, he began regular work once again as a doctor. In 1953, he convinced the management of the Cantonal Hospital of Geneva to open an anesthesiology department, of which he later became the director. He was also able to finally devote himself to medical research, which he presented in numerous journals and at conferences.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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